Lithuania And Co.

In the same vein as my previous post following up on Spain’s WC prospects, the FasterSkier series next looked at Lithuania. I’m sometimes curious why some of the former Soviet republics aren’t better represented in cross country skiing. I imagine many of them have struggled economically since the breakup of the USSR and national sports programs wouldn’t be a priority in that case. (I don’t know anything about Lithuania’s economy, for the record. Update: An actual Lithuanian has popped by in the comments to other their own insights.)

But whatever the reason, Lithuania is sort of a prototypical example of the former Soviet republic. For instance, by far the best Lithuanian skier that I can find in their history (post-Soviet era) is (was) Vida Venzene. And she was a rather talented Soviet skier who switched to her native Lithuania once they became independent. So a lot of these new nations inherited some great skiers (Vladimir Smirnov, anyone?) but suddenly cut off economically from Russia some of them haven’t been able rebuild their own program.

The only three Lithuanian skiers that I can find who have recorded top 30 results are Venzene, Ricardas Panavas and Irina Terentjeva. Terentjeva’s Wikipedia page is out of date, as she has had a few top 30 results since the 37th listed there as her best result.

But as with Laura Orgue in my last post, there’s reason for concern when looking at Teretjeva’s results:

Her median distance result (in blue) has been up and down over the years. But what stands out to me is the steady decline in her best result over the past five years or so. Her sprint results don’t reveal an encouraging trend either:

Related posts:

  1. Most Unimproved Men: Distance
  2. Mystery Skier
  3. Mystery Skier: Revealed
  4. NOW Is It Panic Time For The Norwegian Men’s Distance Team?
  5. Rybinsk: Sprint Recap

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Comments

4 Responses to “Lithuania And Co.”
  1. Nat Herz says:

    You ask why the former Soviet Republics haven’t been better at skiing…My guess is that it has to do with money. Estonia is the outlier here, at least among the Baltics, but my understanding is that it is a wealthier country than Latvia and Lithuania–and even in Estonia, the skiers had to overcome some pretty difficult circumstances early on…

    • Nat Herz says:

      Aaaaand I’m an idiot for only reading the first sentence of your introduction and then skipping to the graphs. Never mind.

    • Lithuanian says:

      Hi,
      I’m lithuanian. We are small country and yes, we have problems with funding various sport programs. But it is not the main reason. Skiing is not popular among lithuanians and few children involved in skiing. There is no competition among the best of them. So chance to grow up strong international competitors are also poor. You tokk very good exmaple – Irina Terntjeva. She was the only women I know involved in skiing for decade. So how she can progress or stay at same level, if she does not have strong training partners or competitos in her country. I think it;s impossible.
      We have poor winters with not so many snow. So conditions for taining are not very good. We need to go training in scandinavia or in alpine terrain in western Europe. An that’s requires a lot of money.
      Skiing, as many other sports, are not priority in our country. We have no. 1 sport – basketball. We are very very good at it. We have a lot of basketball schools, a lot of involved chidren, good financial injections form goverment and private sector and results are very good.
      Talking about skiing, a disagree, that Lithuania is prototypical former soviet republic. Look at Estonia, Belarus, Russia. Kazachstan, Ukraine. These countries all have top performers in skiing and biathlon.
      So only Ltihuania and maybe Latvia has poor results in skiing form former soviet republics. Of course there are other republics, like Armenia, Georgia, Tadjikistan, Uzbekistan, and others. But these ar southern countries, and some of them don’t know how does snow looks at all.

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