Januškevičiūtė Happy and Confident After the World Championship Slalom in Beaver Creek

Januškevičiūtė Happy and Confident After the World Championship Slalom in Beaver Creek

It would be another perfect Colorado day for the final ladies’ event at the 2015 FIS Alpine World Championships in Beaver Creek. Reigning World and Olympic Champion Mikaela Schiffrin of the U.S. Ski Team was wearing bib number 2, while Lithuania’s Ieva Januškevičiūtė would start with bib number 88.

The sun hadn’t yet risen when the 120 women in the race arrived at the start for inspection. The snow of the 61-gate course was fully-injected, making for a firm but grippy surface. One by one, the women pushed out of the start house and made their way down the course, looking for rhythm changes and other particularly difficult sections.

Januškevičiūtė inspected the course together with her coaches from Kronplatz Racing Team in Italy Nicola Paulon and Stefano Lombardi, as well as her Kronplatz teammates Nino Tsiklauri from Georgia and Maya Harrisson from Brazil.

After inspection, the girls went for a few runs on the warm-up course where Januškevičiūtė got a bit of a surprise: “I was in the training course when I lost my balance and I jumped a little bit and my ski went on my pole. They’re carbon and they’re so slim, so my ski broke the pole,” she said.

Lithuanian Skier Not Intimidated by Beaver Creek’s Birds of Prey

Lithuanian Skier Not Intimidated by Beaver Creek’s Birds of Prey

The temperature was crisp this morning for the first run inspection of the men’s giant slalom at the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Beaver Creek, Colorado, but clear skies and quickly climbing temperatures promised to make for a fantastic day of ski racing.

Eighteen-year-old Lithuanian skier Rokas Zaveckas of Vilnius would wear bib number 88 after successfully completing the qualification race yesterday in Vail. The sun hadn’t come up over the mountains when he boarded the lift to the top of the course.

A total of 160 men from 68 countries were entered in this men’s giant slalom race. The top fifty racers on the entry list were automatically qualified, while 110 others had to qualify in a race held on Thursday in Vail. The GS final start list contained 100 skiers.

Small Nations Skiers: Participation is Important, but Just Finishing Isn’t Enough

Small Nations Skiers: Participation is Important, but Just Finishing Isn’t Enough

There are 69 countries represented here in Vail-Beaver Creek, Colorado, for the FIS World Alpine Ski Championships. Some of them are well known in the ski racing world and attend these and other big ski racing events with an entourage of coaches, doctors, trainers, ski technicians, and even personal assistants. But the majority of the field is made up of up and coming racers doing it mostly on their own. Many of them are from small nations like Lithuania, Latvia, Georgia, Israel, Brazil (at least in the ski racing world), and even Haiti and Mexico, countries that don’t even have snow. For those skiers, both the perspective and their expectations are somewhat different from those of Lindsey Vonn, Marcel Hirscher, Tina Maze, Felix Neureuter, and the other big names in the event.

I have been reunited this week with my Lithuanian ski racers from the Kalnų Ereliai Ski Team in Vilnius, Ieva Januškevičiūtė and Rokas Zaveckas. I live in California now, but Colorado was my stomping ground for most of my 20’s. There was no way I was going to miss “my kids” racing in “my mountains.”

Sun, Smiles, and Singing at the World Alpine Ski Championships in Colorado

Sun, Smiles, and Singing at the World Alpine Ski Championships in Colorado

Rokas’s introduction to American hospitality came on the gondola at Vail in the form of a serenade from local guitarist. “We were in the line, and I spotted that in this gondola is a man with a guitar, so I said to Rokas, ‘Come on, let’s get in this one,’” said Giedrius Zaveckas, Rokas’s father and coach who initially shared the video on Facebook. In the video, the guitarist gives a private concert, covering the Fleetwood Mac song, “Landslide,” with the backdrop of a Colorado bluebird day.

From Russia with Olympic Love, Pride, and Hot Dogs

From Russia with Olympic Love, Pride, and Hot Dogs

In Sochi, we measured everything in hot dogs. The concessions inside the Olympic venues were limited, to say the least, and the hot dogs were the most appealing. A “classic” hot dog with ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise was 150 rubles. The specialty hot dogs, which included the “Brooklyn,” covered in melted cheese product and bits of bacon, and the “Manhattan” with ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise, as well as fried onion bits and pickles, cost 200 rubles. Because it’s extremely difficult to comprehend that an American hot dog covered with baked beans (the “Boston”) could cost over $6 in Russia, we simply ignored the conversion rate and measured the world in specialty hot dogs.

My Road to Sochi Goes Through Vilnius

My Road to Sochi Goes Through Vilnius

My parents taught me how to ski. We spent many winter weekends on the slopes of Northern Michigan, went to Colorado every spring, and I loved to watch ski racing in the Olympics.

I remember Tommy Moe’s gold medal in the men’s downhill in Lillehammer (I was teaching a young cousin how to ski that day), but I don’t remember the first Olympics I watched—like skiing, it is something I’ve just always done.

Alpine Skier Ieva Januškevičiutė is Fun and Fearless, Says Cosmo

Alpine Skier 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.