News story

New disabled ski team unveiled

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Combined Services Disabled Ski Team 2013/14 squad has been announced and includes a skier tipped for paralympic glory.

Officer Cadet Oliver Thorn is a member of the Combined Services Disabled Ski Team [Picture: Senior Aircraftman Dek Traylor, Crown copyright]
Officer Cadet Oliver Thorn

The new squad is determined to build on the success of last season, which saw them achieve excellent results in the world championships and world cup and continental cup competitions.

This season will see the squad train in America, Canada and Austria, together with a gruelling winter of training and racing on the slopes of Europe.

They will race against their able-bodied comrades in Army events in January and against the best of all 3 services in the inter services championships in February. The team will then race in international events for the rest of the season.

Sergeant Mick Brennan
Sergeant Mick Brennan has been tipped for a place in the British Winter Paralympics team [Picture: Senior Aircraftman Dek Traylor, Crown copyright]

One member of the squad, retired Army Sergeant Mick Brennan, formerly of the Royal Signals, is in the running for the British team in next year’s Winter Paralympic Games.

Sergeant Brennan, who was injured on operations in Iraq, described how there is no room for complacency in his bid to join Team GB:

The package from the team in terms of support, equipment and coaching advice has been fantastic.

I am now competing against the best in the world and winning medals, but I am determined to secure my seat on the plane to Sochi and compete in the next Paralympics.

Fusilier Andy Barlow
Fusilier Andy Barlow, an Army sailing instructor in Portsmouth, in training for the new season [Picture: Senior Aircraftman Dek Traylor, Crown copyright]

The next Winter Paralympics will be hosted by Russia in Sochi in March 2014 and, although still some way off, paralympic qualification is a realistic goal for Sergeant Brennan.

Also showing great promise is Fusilier Andy Barlow, who is currently an Army sailing instructor. Fusilier Barlow spoke of his aims for the skiing season:

I really enjoy competing against my able-bodied colleagues and I am delighted to have been selected to lead the disabled ski team in the Army races this season.

I also intend to compete in the European international circuit because I want to use it as part of my build-up for the Paralympics in 2018. I’ve definitely got the bug.

Sergeant Darren Stephens
Sergeant Darren Stephens is a member of the Combined Services Disabled Ski Team [Picture: Senior Aircraftman Dek Traylor, Crown copyright]

Lieutenant Colonel Mike Quaile, Deputy Chairman of the Combined Services Disabled Ski Team, said:

The aim for the team is to provide an opportunity for disabled servicemen and women to race competitively at a level commensurate with their capabilities.

Many struggle initially to adjust to their new life and their disability, together with leaving the services and starting a new career. It’s brilliant to be able to give them this opportunity.

They enjoy it and get a lot out of it. It gives them confidence and reminds them they’re still able to compete with the rest of society.

Members of the Combined Services Disabled Ski Team
Members of the Combined Services Disabled Ski Team in front of a new van leased to them by Ford free for the year [Picture: Senior Aircraftman Dek Traylor, Crown copyright]
Published 17 October 2013