Major General Jez Bennett CBE
On behalf of the United Kingdom Armed Forces Winter Sports Association (UKAFWSA), welcome to the 2020 Championships, our 68th season of Inter-Services Winter Sports Competition. It is a great privilege to be asked to act as President and I look forward to combining the role with my continued service directing the Inter-Service Snow Sports Championship. Luckily therefore I will be supported by even stronger team this year! And I really look forward to experiencing the excitement across all of our snow and ice events this season.
Every year I am inspired by the efforts of the team involved in bringing our events to life, whether in Meribel, Ruhpolding and St Moritz or later in the season at the Koenigsee Ice Champs. Equally, the determination, grit and energy of the athletes is extraordinary and should leave us all humbled. Their commitment starts long before we gather in the Alps and will continue through to international events well into the summer months. Indeed this year has already started on a high following ‘off-season’ success in the Australian Defence Force Championships in September and on international ice tracks throughout the summer. We are well set for another exciting season of competition across all the disciplines.
2020 marks the start of a new decade with much uncertainty on the international stage, an Integrated Review across a number of departments and doubtless another year of high operational tempo for all the Service Commands; Service people will have commitments aplenty. So it is remarkable that they and their chains of command find the time and energy to generate the necessary commitment to attain the heights of these events. In doing so, however, they highlight the remarkable loyalty, resilience and will to win that is the hallmark of the UK’s Armed Forces. And it for reasons such as this that the UKAFWSA continues to enjoy the patronage of Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex. HRH is unable to join us in Meribel this year but wishes us well in our endeavours.
For those who are reading this in Meribel, I would like to welcome you to the Snow Sports Championships whether you are competing or supporting. I wish the competitors the best of conditions and good fortune for our senior military and sponsor guests I hope you have a wonderful time riding or skiing (with fixed or free heel!) and between supporting the competitions which your direct efforts have been so essential to delivering. We owe our sponsors especially a huge vote of thanks for enabling us to run the Championships at the highest standard here in Meribel.
Please do take time to introduce yourselves to the competitors on and off the slopes – you will quickly realise (or remind yourselves) just how much this competition means to these remarkable men and women.
Finally, good luck to everyone involved in all Service Winter Sports this year and to all our supporters – thank you. I look forward to meeting you all.