My first year as Chairman of United Kingdom Armed Forces and Army Nordic skiing has been rewarding and challenging in equal measure. Last year, I reported that I wished to continue to maintain the pace of progress in developing the sport and I’m happy to confirm that the last season has taken us from strength to strength. We saw extremely challenging and difficult racing conditions, particularly due to the less than ideal snow conditions, but both athlete and official alike stood up to the challenge and delivered some impressive performances.
As I write this, the World Cup Biathlon season has already opened and several British Army athletes, who have been training throughout the summer, have raced their first races of the season representing GBR. Part of this number are newly qualified for the National team after selection races took place in Norway in late November. It cannot be underestimated the time, effort and dedication these individuals have shown in making the standard to represent their country, and we congratulate them for their success. But the hard work isn’t over yet and we wish all the national athletes the very best of luck in this season’s races, especially those sporting their GBR suits for the first time.
In 2017 we look forward to holding Exercise RUCKSACK in its Platinum anniversary year as we celebrate 70 years of National Biathlon and Cross Country Skiing. Ruhpolding, Bavaria will serve as the familiar and much-loved backdrop as we make every effort to set the quality and challenge bar even higher than ever before. Last year saw record numbers of athletes qualifying for and competing at the exercise, and we expect this coming competition to follow that trend. As is becoming the norm we will see military racers from all three Services competing alongside civilian athletes as they take on the test of the Chiemgau arena. We look forward to ever-stronger female participation, and also to hosting participants from Germany and Australia. Taking place from 28 Jan to 9 Feb 17 the 70th RUCKSACK is set to be one to remember.