How it started
Sir Arnold Lunn along with a group of British skiers founded the Kandahar ski club on the 20th January 1924 in Murren’s Palace Hotel, Switzerland. The main purpose of the club was to raise the profile of Downhill and Slalom ski racing internationally as a sport.
(Photo Credit: TVB St. Anton am Arlberg)
The name choice
The club took its name from one of the oldest downhill races, the Roberts of Kandahar. This race had a cup donated by Field Marshal Lord Roberts of Kandahar, commander and Victoria Cross winner of the British army, after winning the great 1880 battle in Afghanistan. The Kandahar "K" would become iconic in the ski racing world after ski cartoonist Alan d’Egville suggested the simple but effective logo.
Impact on ski racing
In 1930, the world governing body of skiing, FIS, gave Downhill and Slalom official recognition, which was mainly down to the Kandahar members’ efforts. The first World Alpine Skiing Championships were staged in Murren, Switzerland by British organisers. Sir Arnold Lunn also set up the Arlberg-Kandahar (AK) races, which later inspired the many famous World Cup Downhill courses we see today on the circuit. Garmisch, St Anton, Sestriere and Chamonix courses all still have the Kandahar name.
In its history the club has had royalty, Olympic/Paralympic medalists and influential personalities come through the ranks. Swiss World Cup skier Daniel Yule skied for Kandahar in his junior ski days and ranked 11th in the slalom rankings last season on the World Cup. Blaise Giezendanner, also a previous member of Kandahar, is relatively new on the World Cup circuit. The Frenchman finished 23rd in the Super G World Cup standings last year.
Britain’s number one Alpine skier Dave Ryding also trained with Kandahar. Ryding showed his world class pedigree when he won the Europa Cup Slalom title in 2013. In 2017, Ryding had another spectacular season with a second place in the Kitzbuhel World Cup Slalom. He ended the season eighth overall in World Cup Slalom.
(Photo Credit: Redbull Content Pool)
Other names to mention are Paralympic gold medallists Kelly Gallacher and Charlotte Evans, World Telemark Championship bronze medalist Jasmin Taylor, World Cup Skier Crosser Liz Stevenson and former British Alpine Olympian Ed Drake.
The Kandahar club still prides itself with producing children racers. The 2017 summer camp held in Norway was a huge success and had a stellar coaching staff on hand, with USA’s World Cup Slalom skier Robby Kelly joining the team as a special guest.
Coach Dan Poth gave his view on the group: Elliott Bennett and Callum Ross in the U16 boys are skiing fast this year. In the U14 boys, Aidan Urquhart, Dominic Shakleton, Ben Sherriff, Fraser Baggaley, Ben Tweedy and Seb Vanger were impressive on summer camp.
“The U16 girls are making great improvements and look to make a strong first year FIS team. U14 girls include the duo of Petra Tweedy and Grace Bennett who are chasing down the older girls and are skiing really well.
“The U12/10 age groups are packed with loads of talented skiers including Harry Duncan, Finn Sherriff, Oliver Sadler and Isabel Sadler. For the first time in a while Kandahar has strength across all the age groups!”
The future looks bright for the Kandahar ski team!
Coach’s insight by Dan Poth
Kandahar has a big hardworking team striving to a common goal, which is developing all racers that come through the door. The full-time coaching team this season includes Dan Poth, Sam Liddell, Eilidh McLeod and Ash Breese under the management of Matt Shepherd.
Part time coaches include Russ Bennett, TJ Baldwin, Amanda Pirie, Mark De Rosenwerth, Mike Barker, Charlie Gould, Gav Carruthers, Jake Richardson, Justin Mesut, Mick Jordan, Nikki Jordan and Matt Thompson.
Dan Poth explained the ethos of the Kandahar team: “Personally, I see Kandahar as a club for anyone! The atmosphere on all the camps is always fun; which means that progression in the athlete’s skiing ability and life skills off the hill is inevitable. There is a real team atmosphere that spreads across all the age groups”
The 2017 summer camp was a real hit and Poth was full of praise after the experience: “The summer camp in Fonna, Norway was amazing. Once again we had to battle with the elements of wind and rain, but it was 100% worth it when we were rewarded with the blue-bird days!
“We saw massive improvements from a lot of the team due to the fact we were able to ski until 3-4pm almost every day, which is not heard of anywhere else in Europe. We are looked after really well in Fonna with the guys building us Super G tracks and jumps, Ski Cross tracks and also rollers, which were great to train Slalom on.”
On the future of the team, Poth is really enthusiastic: “I see Kandahar in the next few seasons winning club trophies again at National Championships and getting regular podiums across all the age groups! The growth of the club has been massive and there is more and more talent coming up.
“The objective is to become the number one UK competitive snowsports club and I think we are on the right track. There is still lots of hard work to do, but the team that Matt Shepherd has built I think can do it. None of what has happened already would be possible without him. I can speak on behalf of the coaching staff, parents and athletes that we are seriously grateful for all the hard work Matt puts in behind the scenes! Exciting times are ahead!
Wellsnowsports are proud supporters of the Kandahar ski team. Both teams have worked together in the last season and will continue to work closely in the future. From personalised STOK gloves to Croc skis and Briko the team have been repping the Wellsnowsports products on the mountains.