This weekend, Ieva Januškevičiūtė will be the first Lithuanian woman to start an Alpine World Cup ski race. The race will take place in Kranska Gora where the 19-year-old will race the giant slalom on Saturday and the slalom on Sunday.
Arriving in Slovenia with her Italian team, Kronplatz Racing Center, Januškevičiūtė did her excitement ahead of such an exceptional start. “You need at least one really serious race before the Olympics,” said the athlete who made her debut at the last World Championships.
Although, the weather in Kranska Gora has deteriorated in recent days. “Today there was already 70cm of snow, and it continued to snow heavily,” said the Olympian.
For the Vilnius resident, this will be her last rehearsal before the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, which start on Feb. 7. Januškevičiūtė will be the first female Lithuanian athlete to participate in the alpine compensations. She will ski in the slalom and giant slalom events. Seventeen-year-old Rokas Zaveckas will compete in men’s alpine skiing.
Until now, only two Lithuanian athletes have competed in the World Cup: 1998 Nagano Olympian Linas Vaitkus and Vitalijus Rumiancevas, who took part in the 2006 Torino and 2010 Vancouver games. The best result came from Linas Vaitkus, who was 34th in a SG in 1997 in the USA. Rumancievas started two GS races, but did not reach the second run in either.
Ieva Januškevičiūtė will be the first Lithuanian athlete to participate in the Olympic women’s alpine skiing events. This is the 19-year-old athlete’s blog entry, “The Road to Sochi.”
Everything started like this… When I was six or seven years old, my dad started to teach me how to ski on the hill behind the Lazdijai swimming pool. Later we went several times per year to ski in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Of course, we also skied at Liepkalnis.
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.
“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.
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.
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 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. Continue reading “For the favorites, bad weather was not a problem”
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 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.
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.
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.
Kalnų Ereliai veteran and member of the Lithuanian National Ski Team Laura Pamerneckytė of Vilnius is in Austria this week for the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games. The 16-year-old is one of just six athletes on the Lithuanian team (two alpine skiers, two cross-country skiers, and two biathletes). In Innsbruck, she will compete in the Slalom and Giant Slalom competitions. On the eve of her first race, she took a few minutes to catch up with kalnuereliai.com and provide some insight into her experiences at the YOG for our English-speaking fans.
Kalnų Ereliai: What does the experience of participating in YOG mean to you? Laura Pamerneckytė: It means a lot to me, because I was sent here to represent my country. I think all the Lithuanians here are nice and friendly, so other athletes have a good opinion about us. It just feels so great to be a part of YOG.
KE: What is your first impression of the race hill, and what is your plan for the GS/SL races? LP: The hill is really good. Hopefully the snow and weather will be fine too. My plan is simply to finish. I’ll try as hard as I can, but there are a lot of strong girls I just can’t compete with. The most important thing is to participate not to win.
KE: What has been the best part of YOG so far? LP: The best part was opening ceremony! It was a bright and colorful show. It was really interesting despite how cold it was outside. Also in YOG, I have met some really interesting people and made many new friends.
KE: And lastly, what is Yogger? We’ve been hearing a lot about it. LP: Hmm … Yogger is like a flash drive but with some special functions. Whatever activities you participate in—drumming, listening to a lesson about how to prepare for competition, or how to be a chef—you collect points. When you have enough points you can get prizes like sunglasses or a water-bottle. Rokas [Zaveckas] and I both already got [a water-bottle], and we need only one or two more points to get awesome headphones!
Aciu Laura! Sounds like you’re having a great time. Good luck to you, Rokas, and the rest of the Lithuanian team!