In our first post in English, we would like to shed a light at the leader of Lithuanian team, Tomas Kaukėnas (26). He will celebrate his 27th birthday on May 1st, and he was born in the capital of Lithuanian wintersports – Ignalina, just like Gintas Jasinskas and (almost) Algis Šalna.
Tomas showed his tallant from the early years, reaching the “flowers” in the World Junior Championship in Canmore, 2009, a place where a lot of future stars emerged even though not really in Mr Kaukėnas’ age group somehow. In 2011 at his lats World Juniors Champ at Nove Mesto, Tomas was 5th in sprint even with 1+1 shooting, even though his competitors names now are obscure to an average fan (Golobkov, Kryukov, Djuzhev and Dakhno – anyone?)
Transition to the male biathlon followed, with sportsman from Ignalina becoming the leader of Lithuanian teams for many years after Vancouver (where he did not participate, as he was too young). Let’s have a look at some of these races.
#21, World Championship 2016, Holmekollen, 10 km Sprint
In the historical championship (it was supposed to be OEB’s last, no?) in cradle of Norwegian biathlon dominated by Norwegians, Tomas was focused and even with one mistake in standing he lost only 1:20 to Fourcade. The race opened him the road to pursuit, too.
#22, World Championship 2013, Nove Mesto na Morave, 10 km Sprint
Best days for Jakov Fak and Svendsen, but also best days for Tomas, who shot clean, and lost only 1:19 to winner and just over minute to Fourcade. The result opened the door not only to pursuit but also to mass start in this WC, and many promises for Sochi 2014.
#23, World Cup 2013/2014, Kontiolahti, 15 km Pursuit
This race in the springish Finnish town will be remembered for Johannes Tinges Boe missing 4 (!) in the last standing and still winning; Tomas played out the race also nicely starting 35 from the last sprint, and missing 2 in the last shooting, including last one. Also, nice day for Rastorgujevs, who reached flowers despite starting in 41st place.
#23, World Championship 2013, Nove Mesto na Morave, 20 km Individual
Another glimpse at the championship quite sucessfull for Tomas, with only 2 mistakes at the individual race, dominated by better shooters Fourcade (as always), Tim Burke, local guy Moravec and also to legendary Swedes Frederik Lindstrom and Bjorn Ferry in the Top5.
#23, World Cup 2013 / 2014, Pokljuka, 10 km Sprint
Another quite good day in the Slovenian mountains and wanishing snow in +3, with majority of current biathlon stars present, and Bjorn Ferry winning again, and Bjorndalen in the Top 6. Tomas better than the BOTH Boe brothers, though 🙂
There is another #23 place for Tomas, we know, but just did not want to mention it… Of course we are speaking about the 20 km individual in Sochi, where Tomas was competing up to the last standing only with Fourcade and Beatrix… However, the misses came not in time, and he was really upset at the finish. Probably just to have a revenge in 2018.
Our experience shows that the Ignalina man is capable to reach the peak of his running form just in time for the most important starts, so we hope it will happen again in the Hochfilzen again to suprise his competitors and break into the Top20 he deserves! Tomas is a really friendly and down to earth guy, no arrogance, and he can come himself to spectators tribune to watch a race and chat with fans (yes, we saw him do that)