Young talent—a valuable prize!

“Youth is our perspective. Since as they well understand, that ski poles are not simple sticks,” said Leki Cup sponsor Arūnas Milkus.

—Marius Grinbergas, sportas.info; Translation by Jenn Virškus for kalnuereliai.com
Rokas Zaveckas nearing the finish line. Photo by Stefanas Milčevičius

In Ignalina, where the Žalgiris Winter Games alpine ski race was held, Milkus joked that he was born too early, and was unable to get such prices as a young athlete.

The Žalgiriada is a traditional workers’ sports festival for participants over 21 years of age. In order not to exclude young skiers, the Lithuanian Ski Federation traditionally organized events for younger athletes. These races are usually sponsored by equipment distributors, so that the talented medal and diploma winners also receive an impressive array of useful prizes.

This time youth at Lithuanian winter sports center in Ignalina competed in the Leki Cup. There was no less intrigue and competition here than in the Žalgiriada—the boys race attracted the best young alpine skiers.

In the giant slalom and slalom races (15-years and older), Rokas Zaveckas—who had just returned last week from the first Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck—was unbeatable. His results were the best overall, including among the Žalgiriada participants. Among the younger boys Radvilas Janulionis was the fastest in both events. In the girls’ race, Ieva Januškevičiūtė won two gold medals.

“We want young people to demonstrate the new technologies and inventions, so people know what modern ski poles and gloves are. Our generation uses old ski poles, like sticks. And Leki ski poles and gloves protect the user in critical moments,” said Arūnas Milkus, the representative of Leki in Lithuania, when asked why he decided to sponsor the youth competition.

Leki holds the most patents and is the most innovative manufacturer of ski and hiking poles. Revolutionary innovation, product functionality and ease of use is why this German company is one of the world’s market leaders, setting the standard for Nordic walking, hiking, and ski equipment design and technology.

“The interest in Leki products in Lithuania is growing rapidly. This season it is two times greater than in the past,” said Milkus.

In Lithuania, Leki is usually associated with Nordic walking. “We sell the most of this kind of poles because Nordic walking is possible in all seasons. People may even associate us with this too much, because they believe that we only distribute equipment for leisure activities,” observed Mikus.

Leki mainly works with alpine skiers in Lithuania. But they also have an agreement with the cross-country skiers, and with the biathletes. “We want to work together with all winter sports. And we want to show that the poles and gloves are essential. Aerodynamics is not only effected by a good ski. All athletes know, that without poles, they won’t finish,” argued Milkus.

In the Leki Cup last weekend at Ignalina, winners received not only backpacks, towels, hats, or Leki gift certificated to buy them, but also a special German washing detergent for traveling. “This is a very useful thing. Athletes in training camps or at competitions must be able to wash their clothes, and it’s very invonvenient to carry a powder,” said Lithuanian Alpine Ski Federation president Paulius Augūnas.

Leki Lithuanian representatives will accompany the athletes to competitions abroad, where they will get to know the latest equipment and train on international courses.

 

Leki Cup results
Giant Slalom

Boys 1997 and younger: 1. Radvilas Janulionis, 2. Matas Janulionis, 3. Vėjas Strelčiūnas.

Boys 1996-1992: 1. Rokas Zaveckas, 2. Aivaras Tumas, 3. Vytautas Sakalis.

Girls: 1. Ieva Januškevičiūtė, 2.  Urtė Januškevičiūtė, 3. Atėnė Banelytė.

Slalom

Boys 1997 and younger: 1. R. Janulionis, 2. M. Janulionis, 3. V. Strelčiūnas.

Boys 1996-1992: 1. R.Zaveckas, 2. Karolis Janulionis, 3. A. Tumas.

Girls: 1. I. Januškevičiūtė, 2. U. Januškevičiūtė, 3. A. Banelytė.