15th CAF winter sports competition: “The harder the conditions, the bigger benefit for the Special Forces“

The victory ceremony held in the Barracks “Staff Brigadier Ante Šaškor“ in Delnice on 22 February 2018 concluded the 15th Croatian Armed Forces' winter sports competition, which took place from 19 – 22 February 2018.

 The victory ceremony held in the Barracks “Staff Brigadier Ante Šaškor“ in Delnice on 22 February 2018 concluded the 15th Croatian Armed Forces’ winter sports competition, which took place from 19 – 22 February 2018, coinciding with the Winter Olympics although less known  but not inferior in terms of the efforts and the winner spirit. The 15th championships took place in the Year of the Readiness and Activity of the Croatian Soldier, (declared by the Defence Minister Damir Krstičević) . It was another opportunity – in addition to the Sporting Day – for the members of the Croatian Armed Forces to demonstrate stamina and endurance and to promote the development of sport among the ranks.  The Croatian Armed Forces’ winter sports competition was organised by the Special Forces Command, with the support from the Croatian Ski Federation, the Gorski kotar Sports Centre, the Platak Ski Resort, the Rijeka Ski Club, the Delnice Ski Club and the Mountain Rescue Service.. The 2017 competition draw a record number of participants from all services and branches of the Croatian Armed Forces. The competition ran in two disciplines (giant slalom and military patrol) in four categories;females, veterans and two senior categories. It kicked off on 19 February; the organisers and the competitors defied the hard conditions (impaired accessibility due to heavy snowfall around Delnice and low visibility. In the words of the Commander of the Special Forces Command, Brig, Gen. Perica Turalija: We are soldiers; we cannot permit bad  conditions impair our performance; the harder the conditions, the bigger benefit for us; we can better prepare for such contingency“. The giant slalom at Platak on 21 February was won by a member of the Honorary Battalion  . 1st Lt. Kristina Kojundžić and by Brig. Gen. Perica Turalija in the veterans category; the winner of the senior category was a member  of the Special Forces Command and of the junior seniors a member of the Support Command, Sgt. Marin Protulipac. The team competition in military patrol took place on 22 February;; four 4-member teams competed in a combined shooting- cross-country skiing. The best overall score was  of the Special Forces Command team, the 1st runner-up was the Military Police Regiment and the 2nd runner-up another team of the Special Forces Command. The rules of military patrol are stricter compared to biathlon. The competitors ran 1.7 km, wearing white camouflage pattern uniforsm and carrying the 5.56x 45 mm automatic rifles, defying the cold and the snow. In the shooting part the competitors shot from the supine position at five targets and received extra penalty minutes for poorer shots. The winning team was the one with the best overall time score (including the penalty minutes). The speed and  shot accuracy are complemented with team spirit. The fastest, the most precise and the most cohesive was the team 1 – the Special Forces Command, who closely followed the instructions from its 1 st Lieutenant. At the closing ceremony the Commander of the Special Forces Command  Brigadier General Perica Turalija, as Envoy of the Chief of the General Staff of the General Staff, stressed that the competition took place in the year dedicated to physical fitness and activity of the Croatian soldiers and in addition to being a sport event, demonstrated their wintertime operating capabilities.  Brig. Gen. Turalija congratulated the competitors and commended their physical fitness. “The scores are as expected as the Special Forces Command is the unit that conducts activities in  such conditions; we strongly praise the participation of the members of other units of the Croatian Armed Forces, which aim to develop the cold-weather and mountain warfare capabilities. I hope others will follow your example“. Military patrol was a competing discipline of the 1924 Winter Olympics held  in Chamonix (FRA); it saw the partiicpation of (4-member) teams from Finland, France, Italy, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Switzerland.. The competitors were active duty members (with one member obligatorily in the rank of 1st Lieutenant); wearing uniforms and shooting with Army weapons. The race was run in two parts, and the course  was  30 km long. The winners were the Swiss, followed by the Finns and the French competitors. At the later Olympic games (the 1928 Winter Olympics , St. Moritz, the 1936 Winter Olympics, Garmisch-Partenkirchen  and the 1948 W Olympics, St. Moritz) )military patrol was a demonstration sport. It was superseded by biathlon, introduced at the 1960 Winter Olympics, held  in Squaw Valley.