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hutsul ski competition  19.04.2018 How Hutsuls competed in the biathlon hundred years ago

In the distant 30s of last century, in February, a traditional all-Polish competition-marches of military patrols (modern-Biathletes) called “Hutsul way of the Legions’ Second Brigade” are held in the Carpathian region.

In addition to political and ideological components, popularization of winter sports and tourism in the Carpathians was one of the tasks by organizing such events.

The Second Brigade of the Polish Legions was a part of a military unit of the Austro-Hungarian army organized after the First World War. Legionaries gained their glory during the heroic battles with Russian parts in 1914-1915 in the Carpathian highlands. That is why the Second Brigade was called later “Carpathian”.

The first patrols’ ski march on legionaries’ fighting roads took place in the late winter of 1934 on the initiative of Vice Minister of Military Affairs Tadeusz Kasprytskyy. Competitors had three days to go along the road Rafailiv – Yablunytsa – Vorokhta. Marshal Josef Pilsudski became an honorary patron and founder of the challenge prize (after his death the march took place under the patronage of Marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły). The commander of the 11th Infantry Division Kazimierz Lukoski headed the Committee for Organization and Holding of Competitions.

The first competitions caused great agiotage in the province. The local Carpathian railway had difficulties with transportation of tourists and all those who wished to see mass ski battles. All surrounding mountain resorts could not accommodate guests arriving on vacation, therefore many tourists stayed in private Hutsul houses, foreseeingly prepared in advance for such occasions.

Success in 1934 and the march “Hutsul way of the Legions’ Second Brigade” had legs in the following ski rallies in 1935-1939. To ensure greater mass and relatively equal conditions for participants, organizers divided athletes into subgroups («military” and “civilian») and increased a number of team and individual prizes and awards.