IevaJ heads to the World Cup!

If not prevented by the weather, soon-to-be Olympian Ieva Januškevičiūtė will open a new chapter in Lithuanian alpine skiing history this weekend in Slovenia

By Marius Grinbergas, sportas.info
Ieva, second from left, with her Kronplatz teammates in Slovenia
Ieva, second from left, with her Kronplatz teammates in Slovenia

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.

A ticket to Sochi is an incentive to work even harder

“I’ve reached an intermediate goal,” said Ieva Januškevičiūtė, the first female alpine skier in Lithuania’s history to participate in the Olympic Games.

—Marius Grinbergas, sportas.info; Translated by Jennifer Virškus for The Lithuania Tribune
 
Ieva last winter at the World Alpine Ski Championships in Schladming, Austria.
Ieva last winter at the World Alpine Ski Championships in Schladming, Austria.
 

The Lithuanian delegation to the Sochi Olympics will reach a new record—on Feb. 7, at least nine athletes will represent Lithuania in the Winter Olympics, although only a month ago only five had a guaranteed ticket.

Now it’s clear that the honor of Lithuania will be defended at the 2014 Winter Olympics by two cross country skiers, two biathletes, two alpine skiers, ice dancers Isabella Tobias and Deividas Stagniūnas, and speed skating and short-track skater Agnė Sereikaitė.

One of the most recent to jump on the Olympic train was Ieva Januškevičiūtė. The 19-year-old from Vilnius secured her ticket to Sochi on Nov. 30 at a competition in Italy. The Lithuanian champion has so far only qualified for the slalom race, but she expects to qualify for the giant slalom as well.

The Lithuanian alpine skiers place on the Olympic team was secured when she scored her fifth International Ski Federation (FIS) result under 140 points. The points are calculated by time behind the race leader—the smaller the difference, the lower the points.

Januškevičiūtė’s fifth result under 140 was at an Italian national junior slalom race on Nov. 30 where she scored 118.95 points. The next day she improved on that result with a 116.28. In addition, at a race in Sweden last week, she took 39th place with a score of 103.77 points.

“The feeling to become an Olympian—it’s perfect. I’m very happy, but I have not achieved a high emotional breakthrough, only an intermediate goal. There is no need to think about it too much because there are a lot of things going on. I need to focus on the next race, training, and not to forget that it’s the process that is the most interesting, not just achieving goals,” said Januškevičiūtė, who said that before Christmas she will participate in several more competitions in Sweden to try and meet the giant slalom Olympic qualifying criteria.
Continue reading “A ticket to Sochi is an incentive to work even harder”

After a storm on the race course, a quiet Christmas

Eleven starts in 15 days. After such a race series in Sweden, Rokas Zaveckas set under the Christmas tree a spectacular Christmas gift—an Olympic qualification.

—Marius Grinbergas, sportas.info
Rokas training in Argentina
Rokas training in Argentina

For the past half year, 17-year-old Rokas Zaveckas has been like a guest in his own house. From a camp at the end of June on an Austrian glacier, the road to the Sochi Olympics took the skier from Vilnius to South America for two months. There he participated in an International Ski Federation (FIS)-sponsored training camp in the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia, and also started 11 races in Argentina and Chile.

Upon his return to Europe, the skier spent just a couple of weeks in his birthplace before leaving again. This time, a month of training in the Alps. In the three weeks before Christmas, Zaveckas was absorbed in a race marathon in Sweden, where he reached his most important career goal—Olympic slalom and giant slalom qualification standards.

Continue reading “After a storm on the race course, a quiet Christmas”

Road to Sochi: An Olympic blog

Ieva Januškevičiūtė: On her start down a small hill in Lazdijai, a taste for traveling places that don’t include warm beaches, her studies, the Christmas spirit, and the darkness of Sweden.

—From sportas.info

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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.

Continue reading “Road to Sochi: An Olympic blog”

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.

Continue reading “A Mountain Eagle from Liepkalnis forgoes university for the Olympics”

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.
Continue reading “New challenges after Lithuanian championships”

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.

Continue reading “A young alpine skier dreams of the Olympics”

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.

Continue reading “Pre-race training marathon”

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.

Continue reading “Alpine Skier Reaches Symbolic Goal”

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”