Lithuanian alpine skiers are training intensively in the Alps for the season’s most important competitions—Lithuanian and World Championships, and other international races.
A week in the Alps, a few days at home, and back to the mountains. That’s the kind of rhythm Lithuania’s alpine skiers are living this year, moving between training camps.
Lithuanian national team members Karolis Janulionis and Aivaras Tumas were training in Kaprun, Austria, with coach Audrius Santackas and other Ski Club Snow Bees members Oct. 27 – Nov. 5. At the same time, in Hintertux, another Austrian glacier, Anžela and Vytautas Aleksandravičius were working with the young members of their club, Alpiu Aidas—it was the club’s second camp in Austria this fall. On Friday, Lithuanian team members will be on their way back to Kaprun to participate in the European Ski Federation’s fall camp.
The most important races this season for Lithuania’s skiers will be the country’s national championships in Italy Jan. 12 – 19, the European Youth Olympic Festival in Romania in February, and the World Alpine Ski Championships in Solden, Austria, held also at the beginning of February. There will also be several junior/senior and children’s International Ski Federation (FIS) races.
“The camp [in Kaprun] was very useful. Perhaps the weather could have been a bit better. On the days when it was clear, it was very windy, and several days it snowed. We skied not only on training courses, but also in the powder—it snowed so much that even with special techniques it was impossible to keep the courses clean. On the last day, there was even avalanche danger,” said Santackas.
The camp, led by experienced national team skiers Janulionis and Tumas, was also attended by Snow Bees members Justas and Paula Tolpežninkas and Atėnė Banelytė.
“Everyone is improving. We focused on Giant Slalom—speed, technique, and gate training. We trained Slalom only a couple of days,” said Santackas. “Aivaras Tumas has made a huge quantum leap compared to last year. As many expected last year, Aivaras attended FIS camp, but has finally revealed his true potential. And now he has finally made a breakthrough. Karolis has been fully devoted to sailing over the summer, but he is also very close to his top ski form.”
According to Santackas, the younger skiers benefited greatly from training with the national team members. The Lithuanians also gained experience from watching how the athletes of other countries train. “It is very useful even for me, to watch how the other athletes train. To be together, to see what exercises they practice, to observe what kind of technical innovations they are using. There are many beneficial things.”
The Lithuanian course was set according to the German team’s of the same age group. “The track was identical. Aivaras managed several times to overtake the German skiers that started at the same time by two gates,” said Santackas happily.
Tomorrow, Tumas and Janulionis will leave for the ESF camp. Skiers from Belarus, Georgia, Liechtenstein, Russia, and Switzerland will also participate in the camp led by top Austrian coaches.
In December, national team members will go to Schladming, Austria to train on the same slope as the World Championships, which will be held in February. Lithuania will be represented by Janulionis, Tumas, and Ieva Januškevičiūtė, who is participating in this season’s FIS camp along with other talented skiers from many different countries.
Last season Rokas Zaveckas had the most success in international competition and is slated to compete in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, but he suffered a knee injury in this season’s first FIS camp. It is not clear if he will be able to participate in the World Championships.
Lithuanian women’s champion Eglė Augustaitytė and Kasparas Gudžius will also start FIS children’s competitions this season. Domas Augustaitis and Vilius Aleksandravičius will attend EYOF with coaches Santackas and Anžela Aleksandravičienė.
Aleksandravičius, Augustaitis, and Augustaitytė—one of the most talented Lithuanian skiers—along with 8-year-old Oskaras Karlavičius returned this week from Hintertux. Alpiu Aidas club members trained together with members of the Latvian club Ziempols. “It was very useful to ski with the Latvians, because their level is still so far ahead of ours. We shot a lot of video, compared techniques, and worked on the course,” said coach Aleksandravičienė.
Just like the camp in Kaprun, Alpiu Aidas skiers in Hintertux focused on Giant Slalom. “We set long courses—about 30 gates. Every day the children’s development could be seen,” said Aleksandravičienė happily. Of course, this camp also saw harsh weather, with cold temperatures and excessive snow.
Aleksandravičienė was especially pleased with Karlavičiaus’ first real training in the mountains. “We are raising a good athlete. He evolves fast. I want to see more children like him join our club. Of course, it is necessary for parents not only to desire to enroll their kids in skiing, but also have the financial possibility to do so. And that the kids want it, too. Karlavičiaus has these options and the desire. I hope that Oskar will compete successfully this season.”
Alpiu Aidas plans to have one more camp before the New Year, but they are not sure where, possibly in the Ukraine, Slovakia, of if there will be enough snow, in Latvia.
Zaibas club member Kasparas Gudžius also trained with the Latvians in Austria. The Lithuanian club also focused on Giant Slalom with its Latvian partner Panthera. Athletes spent seven hours per day on the mountain, working on technique on a 40-gate course. Already for the third time at the camp, Panthera coach Sandra Melderė was please with Gudžius’s improving technique and speed.
Santackas and Aleksandravičenė hope that the results of this season’s Lithuanian championships, which will be held in the Italian resort of Kronplace, will be particularly intriguing. The Lithuanian Ski Federation plans to use the same slope where the Europa Cup is normally held. “This will be a very high-level course. It will reveal true mastery,” said Alekdsandravičienė.
Santackas confirmed this statement. “If the weather will allow, the Lithuanian championship course will be great. It will then become apparent who has done their homework, prepared both physically and technically. We will see the real situation. If FIS camp members won’t be training too far away, Ieva Januškevičiūtė will also attend.”
Kronplace is one of Italy’s most famous Alpine resorts, where Italian skiing stars Manfred Mölgg, Manuela Mölgg, Alexander Ploner, and Christof Innerhofer regularly train. The Lithuanian Championships traditionally has activities not only for ski racers, but also for ski enthusiasts. The more experienced skiers will be able to test their skills on the FIS-approved course where the national championship Giant Slalom and Slalom races will be held, and the traditional ski enthusiasts’s race will be held on an easier slope.