“The suspension of Russian athletes does affect the ISU budget and the level of certain disciplines. But there is no intention to bring them back. We warmly welcome this decision.” President of the Lithuanian Skating Union Vytautas Jasutis
President of the Lithuanian Skating Union Vytautas Jasutis spoke about the the transfer of the venue for the 2024 European Championship to Kaunas and supported the suspension of the Russian team.
The International Skating Union (ISU) decided at the Council meeting held over the weekend that the next European Championships will take place in Kaunas on January 8-14. These Championships were originally scheduled to be held in Budapest, the capital of Hungary, but the Hungarians themselves declined to host the championship due to “economic impact” and “energy prices.”
“There is certainly a lot of work, I would even say lobbying,” said Vytautas Jasutis, President of the Lithuanian Skating Federation, in an interview with 15min. “Lithuania has never organized a championship of this level before. Yes, there was the European Junior Grand Prix in 2019, and at that time everyone was saying that it was similar to the level of the European Championships. We could only dream of hosting the European Championships. Now it turned out that the Hungarians declined to organize it, there were many discussions about why such a decision was made, but we are the least concerned about that. We entered the competition in time, the right to host was given to Lithuania, and we are fabulously happy.” The country’s skating chief stated that Lithuanians competed against Warsaw (Poland) and Sofia (Bulgaria) in the bid to host the European Championships.
“We couldn’t really offer the dates that the International Skating Union wanted because the ‘Žalgiris’ Arena was occupied at that time. We proposed alternatives. I won’t say that we had already given up, but we had fewer chances. The calendars were already set, after all, we submitted the application not for a championship happening in six years, but for one taking place in half a year. The work was challenging, it required a lot of paperwork, proving that Lithuania is capable and willing. I believe that Lithuanian figure skating will not only move forward but will soar by leaps and bounds after this championships,” Vytautas Jasutis expressed his joy.
When asked how Lithuania managed to outcompete the Poles and Bulgarians, the President of the Lithuanian Skating Federation did not dare to speculate, but he noted that Lithuanians “have friends” in the ISU Council. “Some of those six people on the Council voted for us. We don’t know the details yet, everything is still very hot, but it will get even hotter because the championship needs to be prepared in a record-short time.” Vytautas Jasutis emphasized.
For now, the Lithuanian Skating Federation (LCF) cannot discuss the budget of the championship, but they do not hide the fact that they will seek financial assistance from both the government and the municipality of Kaunas.
“This is only the second championship of this level in Lithuania. The first one was basketball, and now it’s figure skating. All the others were at the ‘B’, ‘C’, ‘D’ levels – lower tiers. The budget will be substantial, but every cent spent will be worth it,” stated V. Jasutis. “As the EuroLeague quarter final showed, many people come to such events. There are many figure skating fans worldwide, especially in Europe, and it won’t be difficult to attract them to Lithuania. We will show that Lithuania is beautiful not only in summer but also in winter.”
In 2018, Kaunas already hosted the third-tier world ice hockey championship, where the basketball field was quickly transformed into an ice rink. Now, a different kind of event is expected, during which the President of the Lithuanian Skating Federation mentioned their own arguments. “Next year, Lithuanian figure skating will celebrate its 100th anniversary. It so happens that the sports part of the championship will end on January 13th. It’s a special day for Lithuania. I have no doubt that our strongest pair, Allison Reed and Saulius Ambrulevicius, will be skating in the final on January 13th. Knowing the significance of that day and the current issues, I believe they will not only compete for a medal but also win it,” boldly predicted V. Jasutis. In his opinion, the Lithuanian delegation should be the largest in the country’s history.
“We, as hosts, do not have the exclusive right to delegate athletes; they will have to earn their spots,” noted V. Jasutis. “Somehow everything coincided, and the level of our athletes is higher than ever. Our second pair (Paulina Ramanauskaite and Deividas Kizala – ed. note), who started training with Spanish coaches, has shown tremendous progress. Our girls, God blesses, will be healthy. We also hope to see our boy in the European Championships – why not? They are preparing, they are young, they are talented. It’s just the beginning. Everything is just beginning for Lithuanian figure skating.”
The ISU Council discussed the possible return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to competitions during the meeting. However, representatives of these aggressor countries should not be present at the European Championships in Kaunas. “During the ISU meeting, the International Olympic Committee’s recommendation regarding the admission of Russian and Belarusian athletes was discussed as the first item on the agenda. The ISU unanimously voted against it. They are closely monitoring the situation. I believe they are under significant pressure because other federations are setting a different example. The fact is that one of the strongest countries in this sport has been excluded. It does affect the budget of the international union to some extent, and the level of certain disciplines has declined. But there is no intention to admit them. We warmly welcome this decision,” said V. Jasutis.
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