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Date of Birth:
March 24, 1973
City/State of Birth:
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Olympics and Events Attended:
1998 Olympics, Nagano, Japan - Alpine/Slalom/Downhill/Giant
Vaitkus moved to Steamboat with his family in 1978. He grew up being able to ski down to the gondola, and back home again, which worked out great, since the mountain was kind of his baby sitter. He trained and raced with the University of New Mexico for his freshman year. He was the only member of the team that had a U.S citizenship. Due to no snow in New Mexico, he transferred to the University of Colorado for his sophomore year racing and eventually becoming the Head Alpine Coach for the USCSA ski team. Vaitkus graduated from Colorado University in 2000 with a degree in economics. During his collegiate years he found that he was still craving to accomplish his dream, which was to compete in the Olympic games, so he took a couple of years off from school and utilized his Lithuanian citizenship, becoming the first alpine ski racer in the history of Lithuania. Vaitkus had no funding, no coach, and few resources, but was still able to travel around the world with his 9 pairs of skis competing against the best skiers in the world (thanks to working long hours in the summer time as a carpenter here in Steamboat). His career highlights include finishing in the top 30 in slalom and GS in Sestrierre, Italy for the 1997 World Alpine Ski Championships (this result landed him a spot on the Lithuanian Olympic team and he was one of seven athletes that represented the country of his heritage), but his biggest highlight was crossing the finish line in Nagano, Japan for the 1998 Olympics. The crowd cheered as he moved up 22 places to finish 25th in the Downhill event. Traveling 90 mph on skis has definitely given him the courage in life to accomplish what ever he believes in.
Vaitkus traveled for about 2 years on his own representing the small country of Lithuania but wearing the Steamboat sticker on his helmet. A couple of days after graduating from Colorado University, he started building a small log cabin in the Hahn's Peak area - a fully self-sustaining, environmentally-friendly dwelling where his only neighbors are the squirrels. Vaitkus calls that home today, when he is in town. He is currently coaching a group of ski racers in Whistler, Canada. They keep him busy through the winter months. He was the head coach for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club J3 (13 and 14 year olds) from 2000-2002. He has his own construction company now called Snowcap Construction and has been building here in Steamboat since he was 18. What he likes best about Steamboat is the Champagne powder in Shadows and the healthy life style (fly fishing, mountain biking, bow hunting, skiing, etc.). A couple of his future goals are: live in Lithuania and become fluent in the Lithuanian language (he promised the President), sail and live on the ocean, and to somehow get involved in environmental protection.