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Mar 16 2022

Multinational Staff earn Ski Qualification in Bulgaria

SNOWMASTER 22 delivered ski foundation courses to thirty students from nine NATO nations over two weeks in Bansko, Bulgaria, in early February. Following the short notice change of both location and dates, the pan headquarters effort to deliver the expedition was greatly appreciated by all who attended and provided a fantastic opportunity to visit a lesser-known region offering excellent skiing for all abilities.

Originally planned to take place in Val Thorens, France, SNOWMASTER 22 didn't survive COVID contact, as with many ARRC events over the past two years. Therefore, the decision was made in early January to change both the expedition dates and location. Following some very hasty planning, the expedition was able to proceed to a lesser known, albeit well established, skiing location located three hours drive from the country's capital, Sofia_nato4

Over the course of the two weeks and thanks to the superb efforts of the instructors, SNOWMASTER 22 provided three courses: Ski Foundation One, Ski Foundation Two and Ski Foundation Three.

Aimed towards novices and beginners, the SF1 course taught the basics of alpine skiing to those with no prior or minimal experience. Led by Lt Col Mark Earnshaw and Maj Scott Coles, students were provided with tailored tuition to help them progress from snow ploughs to parallel turns along with the fundamental aspects of alpine skiing. Over the course of the expedition six students were awarded the SF1 qualification, several of which had no prior skiing experience, a testament to the high standard of instruction provided and the determined efforts of the students.

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For those with prior skiing experience the SF2 course delivered by WO2 Matthew Fitton sought to improve an individual's general skiing ability, primarily on piste, or ski run on compacted snow, however there were also multiple opportunities to gain and develop off-piste skiing experience over both weeks thanks to a generous helping of fresh snow. The SF2 course also introduced ski touring, with students donning their skins before enjoying an off-piste cross-country tour with ample opportunities to practise their kick turns. In total, twelve SF2 qualifications were awarded throughout the expedition.

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For experienced skiers, especially those with aspirations to become ski instructors, the SF3 course focussed primarily on ski touring and off-piste skiing in what was a demanding although enjoyable experience for all students. Delivered by Capt Graeme Taylor alongside local ski guides, the course visited several locations across the spectacular Pirin mountain range, including an overnight hut stay. Twelve SF3 qualifications were awarded, two of which enabled instructors to refresh their prior qualifications.

Bansko boasts 75km of uninterrupted ski runs, fantastic snow conditions and a unique combination of a modern ski resort and a historic town whilst offering outstanding value for money. 

Blagodarya ti Bŭlgariya!

Story by Allied Rapid Reaction Corps Public Affairs Office

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