Skeleton brings out the competitive spirit amongst Soldier On attendees

Adaptive Winter Sports Sgt. 1st Class Clifton Robinson, Fort Benning Warrior Transition Unit lies in the face-down position on the skeleton sled during one of his two runs. (Photo credit: Lee M. Packnett, Warrior Care and Transition)

By John M. Rosenberg, Warrior Care and Transition


WHISTLER, Canada – Day seven of the Allied Winter Sports Camp got the competitive juices flowing. Who would end the day with the fastest time and speed amongst the 32 wounded, ill, and injured service members here at the Whistler Sliding Centre in the Whistler Olympic Park? Canadian Defence Forces’ Andre Crocker posted speeds of 101.3 and 99.9 on runs one and two taking top honors amongst the group.

Skeleton is one of the ‘ice sports’ on the Winter Olympic Games program. It requires individuals to ride a small sled down a frozen track while lying face down and forward facing. The skeleton has no steering or breaking mechanism and the participants steer by movements of the body and travel at speeds up to 130 km/hr (80 mph).

The venue manager lit the flame for the competition by telling the participants who came in under or at the required weight for participation that the females will have better times than their male counterparts and the trash and smack sparks began to fly.

30 participants, 26 male riders and four females took to the track with each thinking that they would finish with the best time and speed with one of the female riders being Royal Canadian Air Force Major (retired) Angela Koskie.

“The rush of speeding around a frozen track was “both insanely terrifying and a total blast” at the same time,” said Angela after almost topping the 100 km/hr on her second run of 98.3 km/hr. “Feeling the speed of the sled picking up with every twist and turn, with my face just inches from the ice track was an adrenaline rush that had me laughing out loud the whole way down.” Seeing my fellow “Soldier On” comrades enjoying the same amazing experience made this a day that I will never forget,” Angie said while looking at several videos of her run.

Koskie is a Canadian veteran with 23 years of Regular Force (active duty) service. She began her military career as an Air Traffic Controller and then went on to become a Legal Officer in the Judge Advocate General Branch.

The smack talk settled down after the first run when some of the male participants began stripping away layers of clothing to give them less weight and more speed. Several male participants reach the 100 km/hr mark on the first run which quelled the boasting as the venue manager was proven wrong…or perhaps he had given the males a reason to work harder to beat their female comrades.

“The rush of speeding around a frozen track was “both insanely terrifying and a total blast” at the same time,” said Angela after almost topping the 100 km/hr on her second run of 98.3 km/hr. “Feeling the speed of the sled picking up with every twist and turn, with my face just inches from the ice track was an adrenaline rush that had me laughing out loud the whole way down.” Seeing my fellow “Soldier On” comrades enjoying the same amazing experience made this a day that I will never forget,” Angie said while looking at several videos of her run.

This is Angela’s first time participating in the winter camp and she says that the “Soldier On” camp has renewed her love for winter sports, helped in her recovery and given her the chance to make lasting friendships with Soldiers and veterans from all walks of life.