Levi, Finland – March 10, 2023. A Glimpse into the Past, Present, and Future of Lithuanian Snowsports
At the recent Interski 2023 event held in Levi, Finland, I had the privilege of delivering an indoor lecture that delved into Lithuania’s snowsports history and the incredible growth of the Lithuanian Snowsports Instructors Association (LSIA). The audience at this prestigious event was in for a treat as I shared fascinating insights into the world of snowsports, including Lithuania’s unique history in snowsports.
A Journey into Lithuania’s Snowsports History
The lecture began with a captivating journey into Lithuania’s snowsports history, a story marked by passion, determination, and an unyielding love for skiing. As a nation with no towering mountains, Lithuania’s snowsports enthusiasts have relied on their creativity and resourcefulness to develop a vibrant skiing culture.
I shared stories about Lithuania’s first ski tracks, the early ski pioneers, and the challenges they overcame to promote skiing in the country. It was heartwarming to see the audience’s fascination with our nation’s deep-rooted connection to snowsports.
Lithuania’s Ski Resorts and Instructors
Next, I provided an overview of Lithuania’s ski infrastructure, revealing that the country has 8 ski resorts. The most popular ones include Liepkalnis, Kalita, and Ignalina. Although Lithuania may not have the towering peaks found in other skiing destinations, these resorts have managed to create a fun and vibrant skiing environment. Additionally, the indoor ski area SnowArena, opened in 2011, marked a significant milestone as the first of its kind in the Baltic States. This facility has provided professionals and enthusiasts with more opportunities to train year-round, ensuring that snowsports in Lithuania continue to flourish.
We also explored the current status of ski instructors in Lithuania. With a growing interest in snowsports, the number of ski instructors in Lithuania has been on the rise. I shared exciting statistics about how many ski instructors work both domestically and internationally (the number is 150 instructors), demonstrating the global reach of Lithuanian snowsports expertise.
A Personal Journey Fueled by Love and a Family Tradition
In addition to the history and statistics, I shared a personal story that has been a driving force in my journey as a ski instructor. Growing up in a family where skiing was not just a hobby but a way of life, I was inspired by my father, a former member of the Lithuanian national alpine skiing team and later the head coach of the national team. He, together with ski coach Jenn Virskus, who also had Lithuanian heritage and was residing in Lithuania at that time, created the first-ever kids’ ski club in Lithuania, known as “Kalnu Ereliai” (Mountain Eagles). They dedicated their time to training young kids in the art of skiing. My father instilled in me a love for skiing from a young age, and he had already established the foundation of a strong skiing community in Lithuania. However, he never pushed me to race until my curiosity got the better of me.
I vividly remember the moment when, during a winter evening, I asked my father where he was going every evening. He revealed that he was dedicating his time to training young kids on the local ski slope – Liepkalnis. Intrigued and eager to be part of this skiing adventure, I asked if I could join him. From that one evening, my passion for skiing was ignited, and I never missed a single training session. It was the beginning of an incredible journey that would see me become a professional athlete and, eventually, a ski instructor dedicated to sharing my love for the sport with others.
This family tradition of ski instruction and the heartfelt support of my family were the cornerstones of my snowsports journey, and they continue to inspire me to this day.
The Future of Snowsports in Lithuania
In closing, the audience was left with a sense of optimism for the future of snowsports in Lithuania. As the interest in winter sports continues to grow, Lithuania’s ski instructors, including those involved with LSIA, are set to play a pivotal role in shaping the nation’s snowsports landscape. Additionally, LSIA dedicates its time to becoming members of all organizations under the INTERSKI umbrella, thereby strengthening Lithuania’s position in the global snowsports community.
The lecture at Interski 2023 in Levi, Finland was a remarkable opportunity to showcase Lithuania’s snowsports heritage, the flourishing community of ski instructors, and the remarkable journey that brought LSIA to life. Together with my dedicated team and the enthusiastic support of snowsports enthusiasts in Lithuania, we are committed to sharing our passion for skiing and ensuring that Lithuania’s snowsports legacy continues to thrive.
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