To the Youth Olympic Games—After Exams!

Kalnu Ereliai team member and candidate to the Sochi Olympics, Aivaras Tumas will serve as a Young Ambassador during the 2016 Youth Olympic Games in Lillehapper, Norway.
Kalnu Ereliai team member and candidate to the Sochi Olympics, Aivaras Tumas will serve as a Young Ambassador during the 2016 Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. Photo: LTOK.LT

After once dreaming of making it to the Olympic games and narrowly missing a birth in the Sochi Olympics, Aivaras Tumas has finally made it to the Olympics—just not as an athlete.

Lithuania’s 10-athlete team for the Youth Olympic Games to be held February 12 – 21 in Lillehammer, Norway, will have a perfect guide: former alpine ski racer Aivaras Tumas. Once upon a time he dreamed of making it to the Olympics and competing in the Sochi games with Rokas Zaveckas. Now Aivaras will finally get a chance to take part, just not as an athlete, but as one of the event’s Young Ambassadors.

Though the professional athlete gave up his career for serious studies in England, he briefly returned to Lithuania and dropped by the Lithuanian National Olympic Committee (LTOK). Aivaras spoke about sports, and what awaits the young Olympians in Lillehammer.

What was your goal in professional alpine skiing, and why did you finally give up the sport?

I started skiing when I was seven years old, and I started to really participate in races when I joined the Kalnu Ereliai Ski Team. Coach Jennifer Virškus from the USA paid special attention to Rokas Zaveckas and I. I was competing for a place at the Sochi Olympics with Rokas; he was stronger, and later I had to give up sports in order to go to university in England. Currently, I’m studying computer engineering at the University of Manchester; I’m in my second year.

How did you learn about the opportunity to be a Young Ambassador at the Lillehammer games?

The LTOK discussed various possible candidates and invited me to participate, not only because I was a candidate for the Olympic team, but also because I took part in two European Youth Olympic Winter Festivals. At first, I didn’t think I’d be able to go because of my studies. Later after discussing it with my father, I decided to accept the offer.

Aivaras checks out the Lillehammer ski jump during a Young Ambassador orientation meeting in Lillehammer, October 2015. Photo: Aivaras Tumas.
Aivaras checks out the Lillehammer ski jump during a Young Ambassador orientation meeting in Lillehammer, October 2015. Photo: Aivaras Tumas.
What was your impression of the Young Ambassador meeting in Lillehammer?

The Ambassadors are all young and very warm people who have just completed their professional sports career. They are real leaders, some of them have even participated in the Olympic Games. It was very interesting to meet these kinds of people. I didn’t expect such a warm welcome, they all accepted me very warmly, and they were all interested in what type of country Lithuania is.

What will your roll be in these games?

The athletes don’t only race, they get so much more—they’re able to learn how to be leaders and to act as a team. I will have to help the Lithuanian team, to inform them of what and where things are happening. If the Lithuanian athletes have questions, they will always be able to ask me.

I’ll also have to come up with a variety of activities to introduce the athletes to. I have some good friends from Turkey and together we’re planning to organize relay races, hopefully, we’ll be joined by athletes from other countries—the Russians, Austrians, Estonians.

Is it not disappointing that you’re not able to compete yourself?

No, because now I’m intensely focused on my studies, and competitions require a lot of time and energy. The Ambassador’s role is ideal for me because I can see all the events since I’m no longer an athlete I can relax more, and see the whole operation from the inside.

Do you have any suggestions for other young people who would like to become Young Ambassadors at the Olympic Games?

You need to have reached significant achievements in sports. Although I did not participate in the Olympics, I was an Olympic team candidate and I participated in the Olympic Festivals, so I should be able to reach a similar level. It’s important to be fluent in English. You also need to be a social person, warm and friendly, with good communication skills, and relate well to other people.

Aivaras surrounded by other Young Ambassadors during a curling match in Lillehammer, October 2015.
Aivaras surrounded by other Young Ambassadors during a curling match in Lillehammer, October 2015.

The Lillehammer Young Ambassador will leave immediately after his exams. He’ll live in the Olympic Village along with the other team members.

The 10 Lithuanian representatives to the second Youth Olympic Winter Games include biathletes Nadiežda Derendiajeva, Vitalija Kutkauskaitė, Linas Banys; cross-country skier Rokas Vaitkus; alpine skiers Andrejus Drukarovas ir Eglė Augustaitytė; ice hockey player (in the individual challenge tournament) Dino Mukovozas; snowborder Aras Arlauskas; and ice dancing team Guostė Damulevičiūtė ir Deividas Kizala.

The Youth Winter Olympic Games is being held for the second time; the first event was in 2012 in Innsbruck. The Games are organized by the International Olympic Committee and the Lillehammer Youth Olympic Winter Games Organizing Committee, managed by the Norwegian Ministry of Culture, the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee, and Lillehammer Municipality.

The Lithuanian National Olympic Committee finances the participation of the young athletes in Lillehammer and contributes to their preparation.

This article was provided by; translation by Jenn Virskus.

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,
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.

Ieva Januškevičiutė is fun and fearless, says Cosmo


Alpine skier and soon-to-be-Olympian Ieva Januškevičiutė now has one more thing in common with ski stars Lindsey Vonn, Julia Mancuso, and Mikaela Shiffrin: her own page in a magazine. She is Lithuanian Cosmopolitan’s “Fun, Fearless, Female,” for February. “It’s just so surprising, I still can’t believe it—Olympics, magazine, and I even have my own [ski serviceman] now!” Januškevičiutė exclaimed. The international team she trains with in Italy now employs a technician for the racers, though he won’t be able to accompany her to Sochi. Like many other young racers, she’ll have to prepare her own skis at the Olympic games.

Januškevičiutė qualified for the Olympic slalom in December, and qualified for the giant slalom at a recent race in Slovenia. “The weather was terrible,” she said, “but it was super easy to make those points there.” Points are calculated by the time difference from the race leader, combined with the race penalty, which is an average of the points of the top skiers in the race.

“But I’m really happy about how my slalom trainings are going, I’m hoping it will go even better in the race.” Januškevičiutė still has a few more days of training and racing in Italy before she returns to Lithuania to see her friends and family—and pick up her Olympic team gear—before flying to Sochi on Feb. 6 with teammate Rokas Zaveckas.

The February issue of Cosmopolitan hits newsstands in Lithuania this week. Watch Januškevičiutė in the Olympic women’s giant slalom on Feb. 18 and the women’s slalom Feb. 21.

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,
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”

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
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.

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, Translation by Jenn Virškus for

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”

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, Translation by Jenn Virškus for

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.
Continue reading “For the favorites, bad weather was not a problem”

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


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

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, Translation by Jenn Virškus for

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”