The UK Armed Forces Winter Sports Association (UKAFWSA) is grateful to receive funding from Team Army/Team Ethos; all sponsorship received by the UKAFWSA allows tri service athletes to compete in the various snow and ice disciplines across the winter season. These events include the Nordic Championships held in Ruhpolding, Bavaria; the Cresta Inter-Services in St Moritz; the Ice Sports Championships (Bobsleigh, Skeleton and Luge) in Igls, Austria; and the biggest tri-service event, the Inter Services Ski and Snowsports Championships (ISSSC) held in Meribel, France, where 120 Alpine skiers, Snowboarders and Telemarkers contend.

All of the winter athletes work hard to gain places to represent their single Service at the Inter-Service Championships – starting at their unit or service competition they have been coached and mentored to challenge themselves and push themselves to overcome fear or endurance barriers. They then need to request permission to attend the next competition – in an era where the Armed Forces are lean and funding is scarce, the athletes often trade off regimental duties back in the UK! Each year the various Inter Service championships will see new athletes who have shown enthusiasm, commitment and ambition to compete at a higher level. Athletes are then be chosen to represent the UK Armed Forces and their country at international competitions – for instance, a team of tri-Service Alpine skiers and snowboarders attend the two Brits Championships every March, and two Royal Marines have represented Great Britain at Bobsleigh in 2014.

Of note is the rapid progression of the Armed Forces Para Snowsport Team who have benefited from joining the various championships; the Alpine team have been regular competitors at ISSSC Meribel – in fact, three Alpine Racers (Brett Wilde (RN), Gary Smith (RAF) and Jen Kehoe (Army)) are guiding Para skiers at the Winter Olympics later in February 2018 in PyeongChang. There are also two hopefuls, Owen Pick and Swifty attending as snowboard competitors with the national squad at the Winter Games. Most impressive is the rapid maturation of the Nordic Biathlon squad, the first seen on the circuit for some 20 years.

Sponsorship and funding such as that provided by Team Army/Team Ethos has allowed the organisers of each winter event to plan and host races of the highest quality, where athletes can race safely and challenge themselves; the spirit to fight and win is truly seen with bags of grit and determination shown on the snow and ice, the moral fibre required of every member of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and Royal Air Force.

Report sent in by Lieutenant Commander Nicola Cullen, Director Media, UK Armed Forces Winter Sports Association. For further information visit the UKAFWSA website.

Images MOD/Crown Copyright 2018 

The Inter-Services Snow Sports Championships (ISSSC) is the culminating event of the UK Armed Forces Alpine Skiing, Telemark and Snowboard season and is held each year as soon as possible after the completion of the three single services’ events. It is a team and individual event including both men’s and women’s competition. The ISSSC also provides the opportunity to host sponsors of the UK Armed Forces Winter Sports Association (UKAFWSA).
The ISSSC provides the opportunity for the pursuit of alpine winter sports at the highest service level, and is open to all personnel on regular and reserve engagement with HM Forces. Selection for the 2018 UK Armed Forces Teams will be based on the competitors’ performance at the ISSSC.