For the first time in the history of Lithuanian sports, a ski race sanctioned by the International Ski Federation (FIS) will be hosted by Druskininkai Snow Arena. Two Olympians will represent Lithuania.
Lithuania’s Ieva Januškevičiutė on course in the Druskininkai Snow Arena. Photo by Jānis Markvarts.

The first race of the 2016 FIS Baltic Cup international ski competition, which will be held in Druskininkai Snow Arena, is less than a week away. The only indoor ski complex in the Baltics has been working hard to prepare for the event. Athletes from 18 countries will gather in Lithuania November 7 – 8.

This is the second time this level of competition will be held in Druskininkai; last year the FIS allowed one of the Baltic Cup stages to be held there, which showed off the Arena’s ability to organize a ranking event. According to Druskininkai Snow Arena Director Andrius Stasiukynas, it was the positive impression that led to this year’s race being included in the official FIS calendar as a sanctioned event.

“The International Ski Federation confirmed that our organization and execution of the event complies with all international course competition conditions. We are the only place in the Baltic States where an international competition can be held in October or November. This year we expect even more racers than last year,” said Stasiukynas.

Lithuania will be represented by Olympians Rokas Zaveckas and Ieva Januškevičiūtė. Last year these athletes finished third and fourth, respectively. Latvia’s best skier Kristaps Zvejnieks, who has a world slalom ranking of 65th, has already entered the race.

“The best slalom specialists will compete in the elite group and there will be five different age groups. Many of these ski racers have already tested our slope during training. This summer, Snow Arena hosted a record number of racers from various national teams; more than 70 different teams of various levels have reserved training time,” calculated Stasiukynas.

Snow Arena is specially equipped with snow-making machines that will prepare a solid track for the race. Indoor ski area specialists have been preparing the slope for three years and constantly looking for better solutions, so that the athletes may achieve the highest results.

After the first stage of the 2016 FIS Baltic Cup in Druskininkai, the race will move to Latvia and Finland. Three of the cups stages will be held in Sigulda, Latvia, and one in Pyha, Finland. According to Stasiukynas, the reason one of the stages will be held in Lithuania is to encourage growth of the next generation of skiers.

“Until now, there hasn’t been a place in Lithuania where athletes could get an international standard of training throughout the year. Now that is a possibility. Our goal is to popularize the sport of skiing in Lithuania and provide both athletes and amateurs the best conditions to improve their level,” said Stasiukynas.

The first stage of the 2016 FIS Baltic Cup invites both athletes and spectators. This is a great opportunity to see emerging and already well-known ski racing stars up close.

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