Memorial Ski Race on Mt Mangart

On 4 June 2011, the Slovenian Organisation of Mountain Soldiers and the Municipality of Bovec successfully organised the first giant slalom race in memory of the competition held by the American 10th Mountain Division on 3 June 1945 under Mt Mangart.

The giant slalom competition on the Mangart Saddle was first staged 66 years ago. Then the competitors were members of the 10th Mountain Division, who, at the end of World War II, were involved in operations along the emerging Yugoslav-Italian border. This time, in 2011, the competitors of the race were teams from the USA, Italy and Slovenia, and from the International Federation of Mountain Soldiers (IFMS). Once more, Mangart lived up to its reputation as a mountain which unifies peoples.

The honorary speaker at the opening of the memorial race, Minister of Defence Dr. Ljubica Jelušič, stressed the importance of friendship and alliance among nations. She thanked Brigadier Janez Kavar, President of the Slovenian Organisation of Mountain Soldiers, for reviving this legendary event, and for his work in the field of military mountaineering.

The audience was also addressed by Mayor of the Bovec Municipality, Mr Daniel Krivec, and by US Ambassador to the Republic of Slovenia, Mr Joseph A. Mussomeli. Mayor Krivec, among other things, drew attention to the history of Bovec, which is full of military events. US Ambassador emphasised the good cooperation between the Slovenian and American soldiers.

The ceremony was also attended by Chief of General Staff of the Slovenian Armed Forces, Major General Alojz Šteiner, and Commandant of the Doctrine, Development, Education and Training Command, Brigadier Bojan Pograjc, who is also Secretary General of the IFMS.

Brigadier Bojan Pograjc was also the leader of the IFMS team, and the other two members were Retired Colonel Manfred Benkel and Lieutenant Colonel Boštjan Blaznik.

The IFMS team competed among 19 teams, each of them consisting of three members. The teams came from Italy, members of the US Embassy to the Republic of Slovenia, descendants of the 1945-race competitors, members of Mountain Units of the Slovenian Armed Forces, the Police, the Mountain Rescue Service, veterans of the Slovenian War of Independence, young skiers from Bovec, and from the Slovenian Organisation of Mountain Soldiers. The IFMS team claimed an excellent fourth position. The winner was the Bovec Mountain Rescue Service team.

The participation of the joint IFMS team received a wide response among the public and was the best possible promotion of our international organisation.