15. 10. 2014

Behind the track: Žanna Juškane “I hope I won´t let spectators get bored”

Please stand up...
There is another great biathlon girl you should cheer on by the track. I think she deserves it. Maybe she would revenge then with something tasty to cook for you. Or she would improve your running form as a fitness trainer. Anyway, you can sit down now and read her whole story. 
Here she comes. Žanna Juškane from Latvia. In exclusive story-talk for you. 

- I started doing biathlon when I was in fourth grade. My schoolmate advised me to do it. I had been doing modern dance and I decided to try this kind of sport for a change.

- Biathlon was popular in Latvia when such sportsmen as Bricis, Nakums, Maluhins, Zimelis and Upenieks competed on tracks. But unfortunately good athletes also retire one day. From that moment lots of things changed including a system of Federation. And it has influenced our sport – it’s popularity started to decrease. But now with the help of Rastorgujevs biathlon started to get off the ground. I hope that I won’t let the spectators get bored too.

- Of course you have to be glad about your competitions, but if we speak about a high level, my results can’t make me happy. There were moments when I was totally satisfied about my achievements, but it happened rarely. But I don’t give up and keep working on my mistakes in order to improve my results. The main problem is good consistent shooting. It doesn’t allow me to compete on good level.

Photo: zimbio.com

- It’s hard for me to say how I see my next season. Lots of things depend on circumstances. I feel more confident and consistent in trainings. I hope that I will be able to fight and show myself on the tracks.

- Olympic Games in Vancouver were really exciting because these games were my first. I didn’t expect from myself to show good results and I was also sick. That’s why I just enjoyed the moment to be there for me. Vancouver vs. Sochi - the main difference was that the Olympics in Sochi were my second. I had some expectations of how it all supposed to be. The Olympic Games in Sochi were interesting on their own way and the atmosphere differed from Vancouver’s one. Vancouver is situated in Canada and the nationality is different from Sochi, where the local people have Russian mentality.

- Maybe it’s too early to talk about my ambitions for my third Olympics in Pyeongchang. Lots of things depend on the situation that will take place in Latvian biathlon. Also financial support matters. There are lot of things that can influence it. 

- The last World Championships in Nové Město na Moravě were maybe the most unforgettable champs for me. Though I failed in my competition due to my shooting, but I was in good shape. The atmosphere in our team was really good that let me also feel it.

- The stadium in Ostersund, where my first World Cup took place, fits me most. I feel myself good here, maybe because I feel fresh and that’s why I ski a bit easier here. I also like Antholz. Despite the high altitude I enjoy the route.

- My family hasn’t travelled yet to the competitions to support me. But they watch me via TV or Internet. The most important person who supports me and helps me in trainings is my friend.

- First of all I try to get enough sleep, when I don´t train, but still I am not the type who sleeps really long. Usually when I have a day-off I do housecleaning. Sometimes it takes a half of the day, because I love cleanness. Also I go shopping. Of course I like to cook, it makes me a lot of fun. Sometimes I browse the Internet, watch movies or TV series. I like reading. And if I have such mood nobody can stop me. I like adventures, drama, detectives and romance. Everything depends on my mood. And I love to vary my days-off.

- It happens rarely that I feel lazy or I don't have mood for training. But when I have such mood I realize that I have to change something in my training or take a day-off.

- If I was just an ordinary biathlon fan I would cheer for Kaisa Mäkäräinen, I like her. As for men, I would cheer for Ole Einar Bjørndalen. He is the King of biathlon.

- I can’t say what I like more, if winter or summer. When it’s winter I want summer to come and vice-versa. I don’t like autumn and spring, the two nasty times of year for me.

- I have some weaknesses, unfortunately. And they appear during races. I go through lots of things, get nervous and fear follows me. It’s hard to overcome it all, because it happens unconsciously and automatically. Maybe that’s the reason why I am not consistent.

- Where my fans could meet me relaxing? Hard to say, but Antholz (Italy) is really nice in summer. I would take a rest there with a pleasure.

- If biathlon didn't exist I think that in this case I could be a massage therapist. I even practiced it and people liked the way I did it. Also I could set up a fitness studio. I also love cooking so maybe I could do something related to this.

- I have a dream and it’s connected with sport. Let it be my secret. Also I dream about getting married, like every other girl. 

25. 6. 2014

Behind the track: Gabrielé Leščinskaité "Nobody will stop me to be a biathlete"

The golden girl...
...doesn't matter she owns only silver from the Winter Olympic Festival. She is experienced in carrying the national flag of Lithuania, experienced in waving to the crowd from the podium, experienced in giving smiles all around the world. 
It is always nice to talk with her. One nice talk about her life, we made exclusively for you. The golden girl Gabriele behind the track.

- My first biathlon steps weren't very clear. From a young age I was an active kid. I rode a bicycle, rollers, I went swimming, I did downhill skiing, I danced, I even did artistic gymnastics. I just had to waste my energy somehow. Later when a new father came in my life I found that he was (and still is) the president of Lithuania biathlon federation. From that point insensibly I involved into interesting biathlon world. I actually didn't notice how and when I became a biathlete but about at the age of 13 I had already learnt how to hold a rifle and shoot, how to use rollerskis and how to participate in competitions.

- There had been so many things which were interested to me when I was young but I had been changing my mind every single day. I just wanted to be everywhere and do everything and that's what made me to be happy kid. But I really wanted to be a dancer and I still want. But it could be very fun to be a dancing biathlete I think. After all, there are a lot of athletes who do another favorite activities and I don't see anything bad in that, do you?

- Biathlon is like an unpredictable game, like a lottery. No one never knows who is going to win. This is amazing. This is the most thrilling thing that fascinates me everytime I watch biathlon.

- Like a cross-skier, I like uphills more than straights because you know that after the peak you will go down and have a rest for a few seconds. Like a shooter, prone is better for me. I find it difficult in standing when the wind is strong and that is a big problem for me! Now I am really focused on shooting from standing position.

- Here in Lithuania biathlon is almost unknown sport. It would be difficult to find anybody who knows what biathlon is, especially if he/she is not a sportsman. I am already tired of repeating the same story of giving explanation of this sport. It's really tiring but we - biathletes - have to do this to help to save our future. Of course there is nothing to talk about the funding, from this sight biathlon suffers from lack of financial aid. I hope situation about popularity of biathlon will improve in Lithuania in the near future.

- Representing another country than Lithuania is not acceptable to me.
I born in Lithuania, I live here, I train here and I have to stay with my country.
I understand that we have very limited conditions and we don't get very much fundings but these things just make us stronger and more powerful. Well, how everything turns in the future I can't tell but now I am proud to be Lithuanian.

- Now I am going to gymnasium and next year will be my last year of studying there. My profile is biochemist but I feel this science is too hard for me. Maybe it's because of the sport camps and competitions in winter or maybe it's just not my cup of tea. Combining sport and school is not so easy at all. The most difficult thing is to make myself to open the books and study during the sport camps. It's a mission impossible.

- I like Youth/Junior World Champs a lot. It is really fun to see people of a similar age from whole world competing in the races and trying to become friends at the same time. I wish I could go to the WYJC for the rest of my life. I can't say which ones were the best for me but I think that this year's results were pretty good. Of course I wanted them to be better so I felt a little bit disappointed because I knew I could do it much better. Well, it's over now, I need to focus on the next year's competitions.

- The second place in Winter Olympic festival in Brasov was a big surprise to me! Of course I was very pleased and happy but it was hard to believe that I didn't make any penalties and took a silver medal. That day I got so much attention, compliments, calls and messages that my face couldn't stop smiling all day. We didn't create a big celebration because it was just the first start but I didn't need it. The best feelings were hidden in my heart and that day I realized that I want to be a biathlete and nobody will stop me.

- Carrying the flag of Lithuania in the Festival's opening was a special honor because I didn't expect that. I was told to do that in just the last moment of the Opening ceremony so I was a bit nervous. The flag was quite heavy and the floor was so slippy that I was just walking carefully and trying no to slip and fall down. Nevertheless, I managed to smile happily during this serious challenge too.

Gabriele loves countries where the sun shines all year long.

- Success means a lot for me because it is a sign that you are on the right way to make your dream come true. Being successful at what you do can be very motivating. In sports you don't want to be just good, you want to be the best, make first places and be on the podiums, so for me success means achieving a goal by pushing your boundaries every single day.

- I definitely think that winning Olympic Games is the biggest dream of every athlete and mine as well. I don't know if any explanation is needed here. It's just the top of a sport career and everybody tries to achieve it.

- My last biathlon season was quite good because I did great at the IBU cups. It was the first year of competing there so I am pretty much satisfied with my results but it is never enough for me. I know I can shoot well but it isn't very stable because wind is not my best friend. I want to improve myself in skiing. I need more strength, more speed, more power. This is my aim for the next season.

- I am really looking forward to the next year's YJWC and to show better results. Well, I mean I want to win a medal and I am going to work along with this wish in my thoughts this summer. Yes, I have big ambitions and they help me to move forward.

- Honestly, I hate winter. I hate cold, snow, wind, ice, blizzard and so on. I can't stand that feeling when you have to wait some minutes before your start. I hate when I can't feel my fingers while I'm skiing and shooting! It is my biggest problem so far. My hands are always so cold and there aren't any gloves in this world to help me. Also it causes serious damage to my results and it's so hard to avoid that. Yes, there is nothing worse than winter. So may I ask myself: why did you choose biathlon?

- When I don't have to train and study I should do things that don't require a lot of energy from me. Unfortunately, it doesn't work. Somedays I can just lie near the lake and read a book but most of my freetime I spend active. I like picking berries from the woods, I like sauna, swimming, I like having trips in the nature, BBQs, bonfires, live music, dancing! Dancing really helps me to relax and forget everything for a while.

- I don't have biathlon idol or any other idol. There are some people that I respect and who can teach me something but I don't call them idols. One of them is gold medalist of 1984 Olympic Games, Lithuanian, now working in the USA, wonderful person and perfect coach Algimantas Salna. There are some important things I learnt from him and I very appreciate it.

- I can't tell the exact place I dream to visit because there are a lot of different countries I would like to go to. If I had a choice, I definitely would go to place where is hot and sunny, where you can find blue sea and sandy beaches, where people have cinnamon tans and are smiling all the time. Where summer breeze blows through my hair, warm water splashes under my feet and rays of the sun kisses my bronze skin. This is how the wonderful vacation looks like on my mind.

- I can't remember something horrible or strange happened during my biathlon career except of my endless problems with cold that I'm still trying to beat. But I remember one funny story that happened before the Winter Olympic festival. One year ago, when all world was obsessed with creating 'harlem shake' videos. Our youth team also decided to have some fun at the day off. Then we had sport camp in the Obertilliach, so we found an animal farm which was empty and so stinky and created the first Lithuanian 'harlem shake' video. So much fun we had you can't imagine! But later of course we got some notes from the president of Lithuanian National Olympic Committee but everything was fine, everybody liked that video.

- You want to know what do I dream in my life about? But that's not fair, people do not reveal their secret dreams. I am a dreamer. I dream everytime about everything but do you know what is my big dream? To prove the people that girl from a tiny unknown country can rule the world for sure.

Results of 10K at the Winter Olympic Festival in Brasov 2013. No penalties and silver medal for Gabriele.