What is the Army Winter Sports Association?
Throughout the winter months the army conducts several sports, challenges and exercises under the care of the Army Winter Sports Association (AWSA), which consists of eight main disciplines, Alpine, Bob-sleigh, Cresta, Luge, Nordic, Snowboard, Skeleton and Telemark. The AWSA was created to give soldiers the opportunity to take part in a broad range of winter sport challenges; it also helps to develop a soldier’s military and technical skills whilst on ice or in snowy conditions.
The AWSA was originally formed as the Army Ski Association in 1947 by Field Marshal Montgomery, "Monty" wanted to provide serving members with a chance to break up routine operations and training after the post-war years. This was achieved by providing alternative methods to help develop the military’s ability to work in harsher conditions.
The 8 Disciplines
Alpine – Skiing is the oldest of the army’s winter sports. Over 1000 people take part in the Alpine Ski races every year across 14 different race championships, such as the Spartan Hike, Pipedown and The Lion’s Challenge.
Competitive Alpine Skiing is carried out in the following 5 categories:
Super Giant Slalom
Bobsleigh – the army has been represented in all the British Bobsleigh Olympic Teams since 1972 and it is the only winter sport that the army has won Olympic medals in to date.
Cresta – is a head first downhill run on a toboggan where the rider uses rakes on their boots to help turn and break. Some riders have been known to reach up to 80mph completing record runs in 41.27 seconds!
Skeleton – similar to the Cresta in that the rider goes head first downhill, the main difference being there isn’t a breaking system in place and steering is controlled entirely by the rider’s body weight. Tracks range in length from 1 to 1.5 km with speeds up to 135km/hr.
Luge – is a small one or two man sled that is ridden feet first, flexing the calves and shoulders to steer. Luger entrants compete against the clock being timed to thousandth of a second, making it one of the most precisely timed sports in the world.
There are four main luge disciplines:
(Olympic discipline starting in 2014)
Nordic – encompasses the separate international winter sports disciplines of cross country skiing (XC skiing) and biathlon (XC skiing and rifle shooting) as well as the Military Patrol Race.
Snowboard – since its inception as a recognised winter sport, snowboarding has developed several styles each with its own established techniques and equipment. The most commonly known styles today are: free ride, freestyle and free-carve/race.
Telemark – derived from an earlier form of skiing where the skier has cable bindings that allow the heel to rise during turns. This gives the skier the ability to be more flexible, one ski tends to lead with the front leg bent and the rear ski trailing with a raised heel, allowing greater control and a more graceful feel and look.
Towergate and Army Winter Sports Association
Towergate have been a sponsor of Team Army, who supports the AWSA, since 2011. We are a headline sponsor of Army Winter Sports and provide cover for teams heading out to the Alps for Team Army expeditions. In addition we sponsor, Army Mountaineering, Army Cycling and Army Triathlon. Whilst also sponsoring the Army Football Challenge cup and providing secondary sponsorship of the Army Sailing Association.
"AWSA hugely value Towergate's sponsorship support, without which much of what we do on behalf of our soldiers would not be possible. Competitive sport has always played a significant role in fostering winning qualities in our soldiers. The qualities that we most admire and try to develop in our soldiers are all present in Winter Sports: physical fitness and environmental flexibility, determination and resolve, leadership, teamwork, decision making under pressure and sheer physical courage. Winter Sports excel at bringing out the best in our men and women and directly contributes to improved operational effectiveness when the British Army finds itself overseas or helping to provide security at home."
-Lt Col James Scott, AWSA Trustee and Sponsorship Secretary
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Photo credit ‘All image Crown copyright 2016 - AWSA’.