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British Olympic hopes are shot down by armed forces


Lantern Swinger
Just posted this on the arrse site, however as it has a tri-service slant, I thought I'd pop it on here too.

British hopes are shot down by armed forces
By Mihir Bose
(Filed: 09/02/2006)

Could the armed forces be responsible for what looks like being another disappointing Winter Olympics for the British? The British Olympic Association will be happy if we get one medal, whatever the colour.

The amateur past has left a legacy, according to Gian Franco Kasper, the Swiss president of the International Ski Federation. He said: "The British created bobsleigh, skeleton, alpine skiing, curling. They used to spend months and months of winter time in the Alps and just played sports among themselves. By putting two luges together they created bobsleigh.

"In the old days the Army, Navy and the Royal Air Force had their camps, and there all the officers went. In St Moritz we had one hotel all winter long just for the British forces. They did skeleton, bobsleigh and ski races; they were there for three months. There they had the British championships in bobsleigh and everything. Out of those came British medal winners - they won the two-man bob gold in the 1964 Innsbruck Olympics.

"In St Moritz I remember seeing a few British soldiers all winter long. They were sent by the Army to do the sports. Now there is none. We still have the British championships, the Anglo-Swiss ski race, but without the officers."

Kasper, born in St Moritz, says the change came when winter sports became professional. "In the old days you could be an amateur right up to the 1980s. Once professionalism came they remained soldiers and were not professional sportsmen. The old system suited the British amateur mentality."

It did not help, says Kasper, that in the 1980s the British began to find the expense prohibitive. "In Switzerland the hotel costs and living became very expensive for the British people. They did not have the money."

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