Both Al, Jon Morgan andÂ Olly have been competing for Britain recently at the ski mountaineering world championships in Cuneo, Italy at the start of March. The international racing scene is currently dominated by professional athletes from the alpine nations – principally France, Italy and Switzerland who between them shared most of the medal places. With athletes from over 40 nations taking part, the boys made a good show for themselves with top quarter and top third finishes in their respective races (Jonny finishing 29th in the vertical race and Al 26th in the team race).
Drama stuck the individual race however, when two spectators ignored requests from officials to stay away from a steep slope overlooking the first climb and promptly set off an avalanche which swept across the course, hitting several competitors in the junior race. All of the races were immediately stopped as rescue teams, officials and competitors went to the aid of those caught (everyone has to carry avalanche safety equipment whilst racing) and quickly resolved the situation. Thirteen people were checked out by medical staff and found to be suffering from shock, cuts and bruises but no one was seriously hurt.
This was a serious incident, caused by two individuals ignoring professional advice about avalanche conditions and the organising commitee are to be congratulated for a stirling job in responding so quickly and effectively. Race safety is always the prime consideration, and the organisers had already delayed the start in order to modify the course due to unforecast high winds on the morning of the race. To see the GB results and race pictures click here.