On 6 February a Panevėžys bus station at about five o’clock in the morning suddenly filled up with a green-clad group of people. Stiff from the cold, they hurried to get hot tea and coffee, reports Mariuis Grinbergas of www.sportas.info.
Later the whole group got on a new bus. After a few hours, the same people got on an airplane in Riga to fly to Sochi.
This trip to the Winter Olympic Games capital included alpine skiers Ieva Januškevičiutė and Rokas Zaveckas, coach Giedrius Zaveckas, Olympic team managers Daina Gudzinevičiutė, Valentinas Paketūras, Antanas Muraškas, doctors, physical therapists, Sport Department General Director Klemensas Rimšelis, and journalists.
At three o’clock in the morning at the Lithuanian National Olympic Committee headquarters the delegation began their trip to Riga, where they would share a flight with the Latvian Olympic team to Sochi.
However, it soon became clear that there was something wrong with the bus’s heating system. They initially joked that it was an unexpected test, but then the passengers started to suffer from the cold. Olympic committee leaders decided that they can’t risk the health of the athletes. After several phone calls they managed to find another but that would come to Panevėžys and got the Olympians and other delegation members on it.
Januškevičiūtė and Zaveckas are the last Lithuanian athletes to travel to Sochi. The other seven other team members arrived earlier.
The alpine skiers will start in the second half of the Olympics. On 7 February they will take part in the opening ceremony and then train in the mountains near Sochi. Therefore, their luggage and ski equipment included four pairs of skis and gates to build a course for training.
“I didn’t sleep today,” said 17-year-old Rokas Zaveckas the night before he would begin the most important trip of his career to date. On Wednesday, he still managed to train on Liepkalnis hill in Vilnius.
The 19-year-old Januškevičiūtė arrived in Vilnius from Italy where she trains with the Kronplatz Race Team on Wednesday morning – she was home less than a day.
The Olympic team doctor Dalius Barkauskas and masseuse Marius Matulionis are bring not only their personal belonging to Sochi, but also a folding massage table. Half of the space in Barkauskas’s suitcase was occupied by medication.
At the Riga airport, they deposited their baggage, and waited in a VIP room with the Latvian Olympic team. A goodbye ceremony was held with Latvian President Andris Bėrzinis and Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius, who will both travel to Sochi to watch the Olympic Games.
Wishing good luck to the Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian Olympians, Butkevičius said: “It’s too bad that basketball is not a winter sport.”