A BURNLEY soldier has been honing his military skills in the freezing environment of the snow-capped French Alps.
Craftsman Matthew Donnelly (23), of the Germany-based 1 Army Air Corps, was one of 300 soldiers to compete in the Army skiing contest Exercise Pipedown in the French Alpine town of Les Contamines de Montjoie.
The former St Theodore’s pupil took part in the Nordic (cross country) event after learning how to ski as part of an Army skiing course.
Matthew, who joined the Forces in 2006, said: “I first started Alpine skiing in 2009 during an Army course.
“I switched to Nordic at the last minute mainly because of the fitness benefits.
“I had been injured for eight months after I tore my ligaments in my left foot during a PT session.
“I did four weeks in a Norway training camp every day, then again in Austria for a week. I can feel my fitness returning. I am 90% of how I was before my injury.
“It’s good doing it, I enjoy doing it but it is hard and you are glad when you finish a race.
“It’s the perfect rehabilitation to get back up to full fitness. I don’t mind doing Alpine or Nordic, but I prefer snowboarding.”
Exercise Pipedown is part of the British Army’s programme of winter sports, and provides an opportunity to hone important skills while offering the opportunity for novices and experts alike to ski under international competition rules.
Matthew was happy with the experience he gained from the event, adding: “You need to have that mentality in your head that you can do this.
“I would like to go to Afghanistan if I can. I have been posted with the Light Dragoon Guards. I hope to get a chance with them.”