Updated: Mar 22, 2022
“With a break from Winter Sports due to that which shall not be mentioned it was a breath of fresh alpine air to get a full team from 3 PWRR deployed on Ex FB36.”
The team was a good representation from the Battalion inclusive of the Kohima Band. The lead up to deployment was foreshadowed by numerous obstacles and if it wasn’t for the strong support of the Bn HQ and our affiliations it would have been impossible to deploy.
On the 3 Dec 21 the team did deploy and with a relatively easy journey we entered the Savoie region of France and with that came a huge snowstorm. The first challenge met by the team was getting up the hill, no mean feat. Especially for those members of the team that have only ever encountered a small amount of snow it certainly was an experience. However, once completed the team swiftly moved into their large 8 person apartment, got issued skis and completed the initial arrivals brief. Then it was ready for the exercise to commence in earnest.
So why does the Army fund Winter Sports and Alpine Skiing? This is a question we get asked a lot. This season we brought two novices and two returning novices from the previous years, if it was not for this opportunity these soldiers (and myself) would never have been introduced to what is seen as an elite sport. Furthermore, as the team soon discovered when racing and you are dressed in a lycra skintight suit with minimal padding. You’re stood in the start gate of a race. This could be the Downhill where your skis are taller than you and you’re expected to exceed the national speed limit. Or you could be in the slalom race having just watched the previous two competitors crash out on the icy steep section, one is being casevaced off the mountain. You know it is your turn next. You need to trust in the skis you have prepared yourself. Trust in the lessons over the weeks. Ultimately it is Courage, Selfless Commitment and guts that will get you out of that gate and down the mountain as fast as you can. It is this fear that is the seller for alpine skiing, the exposure to the elements and link this together you have a soldier who may need to step out of the Patrol Base for the first time and will need to rely on their training, their section and their equipment.
There are many overarching aims of the exercise, living and operating in a foreign country with French nuances. Living together in small confined spaces and maintaining teamwork in addition to cooking for each other and the odd dietary requirement. Not to mention the work life balance and getting to experience one of the best ski resorts in Europe. The infantry have been fortunate enough to have been hosted by Val d’Isere for over 30 years and have such built a strong reputation there. To the extent that when the team races it races on the same pistes as the World Cup Ski Racers – perhaps not to the same standard.
In the end 3 PWRR collected a respectable amount of awards:
Bronze – Reserve Combination
Bronze – Capt Soord-Gurney (Veteran Combination)
Gold – Musn Macey (Female Combination)
Silver – Pte
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