“The first thing I noticed was how much people smile here, and they are so friendly!” laughed Ieva Januškevičiūtė. Januškevičiūtė, along with Rokas Zaveckas, are in Colorado this week for the FIS World Alpine Ski Championships at Vail-Beaver Creek.
Rokas and Ieva with Denver businessman Darren Droge

Zaveckas’ 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' 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 background of a Colorado bluebird day.

“Everything has been perfect here, the snow, the weather, and the training conditions,” said Januškevičiūtė’s coach Nicola Paulon of the Kronplatz Racing Team in Italy. “We live and train at Kronplatz, so we have no complaints, but this is really something else. I hope to come back for a training camp.”

The Zaveckai arrived in Colorado on 1 February, and drove straight to Jackson Hole, Wyo., for several days of training and racing, while Januškevičiūtė arrived on 6 February. The two Lithuanian skiers will compete this week in the technical events, slalom and giant slalom, the same events in which they competed last year at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Januškevičiūtė will start 95th in the GS final at Beaver Creek on Thursday, while Zaveckas will race in a GS qualification race in Vail.

There are 69 countries represented at this World Championships. Because of the number of men entering the technical events in recent years, a qualification race was created. The top 50 men on the entry list are automatically qualified, including Latvian skier Kristaps Zvejnieks who was the 50th skier on the list. The top 25 racers in the qualification race, as well as a maximum of 25 more skiers from countries that do not have a skier already qualified, will ski in the final. The GS final will be held in Beaver Creek on Friday.

The board listing contestants. Ieva Januškevičiūtė is number 97
The board listing contestants. Ieva Januškevičiūtė is number 97


Jennifer Virškus on the GS training hill at Vail
Jennifer Virškus on the GS training hill at Vail
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