A Mountain Eagle from Liepkalnis forgoes university for the Olympics

Isabella Tobias shed tears of joy this week in Lithuania, but she is not the only winter sports athlete to fulfill her Olympic dream. Alpine skier Ieva Januškevičiutė for a long time didn’t believe that one day she would become an Olympian. However, when the opportunity presented itself, the 19-year-old decided to put aside her university studies, and grab the bull by the horns.

Mindaugas Augustaitis for delfi.lt.
 
Januškevičiutė on course in Latvia
Januškevičiutė on course in Latvia
 

The early story

“When I was little, I dreamt about the Olympics, but only very superficially. It seemed that it simply wasn’t realistic. But now I am very happy to think that my childhood dream will become a reality,” said Januškevičiūtė. Hers is the latest name to be added to the Lithuanian Olympic team list to travel to Sochi next year. She has been working toward an Olympic birth for two seasons. In order to qualify, Januškevičiūtė had to score five results under 140 FIS (International Ski Federation) points. Penalty points are applied according to the difference in time from the race leader.

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Januškevičiutė (right) with teammate Laura Pamerneckytė at an early Kalnu Ereliai training camp in Austria

The Lithuanian has already earned the right to start the slalom competition in Sochi, but she does not intend to be satisfied with that. Until the end of the Olympic selection period for alpine skiing January 20, Januškevičiutė will take part in competitions held in Sweden, Italy, and Slovakia in order to qualify for the Olympic giant slalom event.

According to the Lithuanian skier, earning the right to test her skills against alpine skiing stars like Lindsey Vonn, Tina Maze, and Maria Hoefl-Riesch, will be a double victory because so far no female Lithuanian skier has managed to qualify for the Olympic games. And even more so, because the Vilnius resident spent her childhood not on the slopes of the Alps, but making turns on Liepkalnis ski hill, where it only takes a few seconds to ski from the top to the bottom.

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New challenges after Lithuanian championships

On the second day of competition at the Lithuanian Alpine Skiing Championships in Italy, participants had to contend not only with their competitors, but also with the dangers of the course

—Marius Grinbergas, sportas.info. Translation by Jenn Virškus for kalnuereliai.com

After the awards all the medal winners gathered for a picture
After the awards all the medal winners gathered for a picture

 

The same leaders

The giant slalom competition of the Lithuanian Alpine Skiing Championships were held at the Italian resort of Kronplatz on Thursday where 17-year-old Aivaras Tumas confessed that to win the overall gold medal took not only his skill on the course, but also a lot of luck.

After the first run, Tumas was behind Karolis Janulionis, the 21-year-old winner of the slalom the day before, by .35 seconds. But in the second run, Janulionis skied out of the course—although he did finish—and lost the win.

“I had hoped to be first. Of course, my success was due to Karolis’s crash and I skied both runs calmly,” said Tumas. It is his first Lithuanian overall championship title.
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For the favorites, bad weather was not a problem

Tough winter conditions for the Lithuanian Alpine Ski Championship slalom meant that not all competitors made it to the finish line

—Marius Grinbergas, sportas.info. Translation by Jenn Virškus for kalnuereliai.com

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On course, Ieva Januškevičiūtė. More pics available on the original article’s site.

I came, I saw, I conquered. That’s how the Lithuanian Alpine Ski Championship slalom competition, which took place in the Italian resort of Kronplatz, can be titled for Ieva Januškevičiūtė. The 17-year-old arrived in Kronplatz only on the eve of the race, but no one could equal her in the overall results for the women and she ranked third among all championship participants. Only the men’s pre-race favorites, Karolis Janulionis and Aivaras Tumas, had a clear advantage over her.
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A young alpine skier dreams of the Olympics

Training at International Ski Federation (FIS) camps has helped Ieva Januškevičiūtė to achieve a career-best result

—Marius Grinbergas, sportas.infoTranslation by Jenn Virškus for kalnuereliai.com

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Ieva Januškevičiūtė was in a good mood during the winter holidays. The 18-year-old recently achieved the best FIS result of any female Lithuanian alpine skier at competitions in Italy. During FIS races held at the mountain resort of Speikboden, the Lithuanian took 19th place in the Slalom, with a result of 104.7 FIS points—points are calculated by time lost to the winning skier, the smaller the difference, the lower the score. No female Lithuanian alpine skier has ever achieved such a low result.

Up until that race, Januškevičiūtė’s best FIS result was 134.03. It was achieved in Slalom races last February held in the Czech republic.

Januškevičiūtė’s two runs in Speikboden had a combined time of 1:31.00. The winning time of 20-year-old Austrian Valentina Fankauser was 1:20.39. Forty-nine skiers started the race, only 23 finished.

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Pre-race training marathon

Lithuanian alpine skiers are training intensively in the Alps for the season’s most important competitions—Lithuanian and World Championships, and other international races.

—Marius Grinbergas, sportas.infoTranslation by Jenn Virškus for kalnuereliai.com

Lithuanian alpine skiers in Austria

 

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.

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Alpine Skier Reaches Symbolic Goal

Just last year, Rokas Zaveckas was starting in children’s races; this year, he has achieved a result that has been previously accomplished only by our country’s two Olympic participants.

—Marius Grinbergas, sportas.info. Translation by Jenn Virškus for kalnuereliai.com

Rokas Zaveckas and Vitalij Rumiancev in Sweden. Photo by Giedrius Zaveckas.

The 15-year-old from Vilnius moved beyond what winter sports people-in-the-know recognize as an important milestone—to get a result in a race under 100 FIS points. The lower the points, the better the result.

Last week, during four slalom races in Sweden, Rokas finished with a double-digit result three times. He is the third Lithuanian alpine skier to break this symbolic level—and the youngest in history. Previously it was achieved by our country’s representative to the 1998 Olympics Games in Nagano, Japan, Lithunian-American Linas Vaitkus, and Vitalij Rumiancev who competed in the 2006 Games in Torino, and the 2010 Games in Vancouver. Rumiancev was 20 by the time he achieved his first sub-100 result.

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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.

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From Innsbruck—with experience and excitement

After the Youth Olympic Games, Rokas Zaveckas will continue to compete in international ski races, while Laura Pamerneckyte will return to Lithuania and have to forget about sport until the summer.

—Marius Grinbergas, sportas.info; Translation by Jenn Virškus for kalnuereliai.com

 

L. Pamerneckytė and R. Zaveckas with Yoggl, the Youth Olympics Games' mascot.
Remembering more than just the race

Lithuanian alpine skiers brought back not only their experience and many gifts, but a lot of excitement from the first Youth Winter Olympic Games held in Innsbruck, Austria.

“I’ve never participated in such an event, and probably never will again. I was most impressed by the fact that it was not only about sports, there was also a cultural aspect. It was unexpected, and most memorable,” said 16-year-old Laura Pamerneckytė.

That was echoed by 15-year-old Rokas Zaveckas, “I spent two very interesting weeks in Innsbruck. I liked both the competition and the cultural program. Continue reading “From Innsbruck—with experience and excitement”