Pictures Championship Marijampole online!

I hereby proudly present my 200 best pictures of the 1st FAI Junior World Hot Air Balloon Championship in Marijampole, Lithuania. I sincerely hope I managed to catch the spirit of this wonderful event. Thanks to all the officials and fanatic teams from all over the world who made this week to a big success!

Thank you so much Simon, Bullen, Jonas, Lasse, Tove and Bengt for all the fun we had this week. It was an honor to join your team and I hope we’ll share many more ballooning adventures together in the future. You guys rock!

Sunday 27 May: Closing ceremony

The championship is over. Such a pity! I would have liked to stay for a couple of more days. This morning I packed my bags and checked out. Around 11.00 o’clock the prize giving ceremony started at the opposite of the hotel. There were four women playing classical music. On the one hand this was very beautiful and emotional but on the other hand I didn’t really feel like being at a happy gathering. It was a nice and positive get-together though! The officials held their speeches and all top 10 pilots were invited to show their faces on the stage. Eventually the three winners were proclaimed:
1. Rokas Kostiuskevicius (Lithuania)
2. Thomas Merceron (France)
3. Pascal Kreins (Germany)
 Congratulations!
We are still very happy with our 8th place :).
After the closing ceremony we were invited to the banquet. What an abundance of food; it looked wonderful! I had a traditional ‘cepelinai’ (zeppelin), a potato with meat inside shaped like a zeppelin. I had a few tasty ones earlier this week but this one unfortunately could be placed in the category ‘very sticky potato’. The dessert was lovely.
It was great to get in touch with some more ballooning people during the banquet. I made a small chat with part of the Japanese team for example. They gave me a sweet little gift from Saga. This made me think about the wonderful stories of my dad when he visited Japan in the nineties. I definitely recognized the happiness and friendliness he told me about. I eventually gave them some typical Swedish candy called ‘polka pigs’.
Time to go home… While saying everyone goodbye I got a lot of positive remarks about my blogposts the last few days. I’m very pleased that this was such a success. Around 300 people visited airdreams.nl per day!
In around five hours we were back in Riga. Time to get used to the normal daily rhythm again. Tomorrow I’ll show Simon, Tove and Bullen around in my favorite city and around 17.00 o’clock they’ll take the ferry home to Sweden.
This blog will now continue as a diary about three weeks in Finland. Saturday I leave. I’ll follow a summer school programme in graphic design in Mikkeli, Eastern Finland. If you’re interested you’re more than welcome to stay up to date about my adventures!
 Lietuva! From september onwards my home country for two years!
One last thing… As soon as I’ve finished my picture gallery and movie about the championship I’ll publish the links here.
A big thanks to everyone for this lovely first junior world championship! I’ll take a lot of nice memories and a good impression of Lithuania with me to the future. Hope to see you all again in 2014!

Saturday 26 May: 8th!!!

The championship is over… The last flight was cancelled because of the wind and rain. Since we didn’t agree with one of our results we went to some officials to ask for further explanation. Our result was eventually changed, positively.

Finally the final results were available on the official notice board. One of the French teams started to cheer and shout. The champions! Or? We became shared 8th. At least, that’s what we thought. During a nice diner at the hotel with both of the Swedish teams and the friendly Ukrainian team by my side I was told that the true winner of the competition is Rokas, one of the Lithuanian pilots. At the last moment the French team got a penalty of 500 points because they turned on their ventilator this morning while the red flag was in raised. (Rumour! Seems it was because of distance infringement during the Elbow, task 12. So, there should have been more space in between the thrown markers). Auwch!! The official results furthermore stated that we were now definitely nr. 8. The Austrian team which scored the same eventually had some points less. Whoohoo, 8th!!! You can imagine it was time for a good beer after that news :).
One completely other thing… Some weeks ago I got my driving license. I was very pleased to be able to drive abroad for the first time! Nienke on the road in Lithuania, whoeiii, nice!
Tomorrow the closing ceremony and banquet will be held and after that it’s time to go back home. More information about the upcoming picture gallery and movie will be found here soon.
A big thanks for the enormous amount of visitors these days!

Saturday 26 May: Third competition flight

As promised now some more information about yesterday’s flight. The tasks were the following: FIN, WSD and ANG. It was quite a struggle to find a suitable launch field because of the variable winds. The flight itself was eventually fine, even though we didn’t manage to score outstanding. The ANG could be quite ok though, but we unfortunately don’t have any official results yet. We did the fastest descending in my ‘balloon career’. My goodness, that went fast, and we were turning around like crazy! When wanting to film just a small part of the city I ended up making a 360 panorama within 12 seconds. Brr! That continued for a while. The landing was a sportive one. Both of my knees are blue now. Four very happy Tadzhikistan guys ran towards us and immediately wanted Tove and me to come stand next to them. Seems they were more interested in a nice pictures with some blondes than the fact we were flying balloons. So, after a picture of a confused but smiling Nienke with a gold-tooth having Tadzhiki guy next to her we packed the balloon and headed to the debriefers. I managed to get some severe stomach pain so I took it slow after the flight. Some painkillers and a good (but too short) night sleep eventually managed to cure. Next to my room a big stage was built up for the Marijampole city days. Most of the night I was troubled by horrible modern party music but luckily I was so tired I eventually caught four hours of sleep. 
The flight of Saturday morning consisted of five tasks. A JDG, HWZ, ‘Pilot declared race to an area’, ELB and FON. The start was horrible. No result for the JDG. But… it seems like we’ll get 1000 points for the HWZ. Yey! Also the Elbow looked quite ok. Let’s wait for the official results now…
At 17.00 o’clock there will be a general debriefing where remarks can be given about the organization of this balloon event. With a little bit of luck we can fly again this evening. This will be the final flight of this championship.

Something else… Do you remember the ‘how not to throw a marker’ video from the Swedish Championship 2012? Well, we proudly present part two: ‘how to throw a marker’. Check it out by clicking here!

Friday 25 May: Second competition flight

This afternoon I discovered the perfect combination for a light lunch. A Belgian ‘Grimbergen’ beer with some cold beet soup and potatoes. I’m very pleased I liked all the Lithuanian food I had till now. This enlarges the change of survival during my future study time in Kaunas :).

At the big square near the hotel a nice market with all kind of local products was built up today. Of lot of self made wooden spoons, typical sour-like bread and other crafts can be bought there. One thing I don’t understand…
 Sad cookies? Why?
This evening we had our second competition flight. More about that tomorrow. I have some very bad stomach pain (oew, maybe the light lunch wasn’t that good after all?) and my alarm clock will ring in about four hours again. So, excuses and hope to see you all here again tomorrow!
For all of you asking about the results: not a lot clear yet, unfortunately!

Friday 25 May: First competition flight

Yes, the first competition flight is a fact! With a full task sheet consisting of five tasks we took off at a field a little bit outside of Marijampole together with a Danish and Ukrainian team if I’m not mistaking. The tasks were the following: FIN, HWZ, PDG, LRN and FON. The start wasn’t that wonderful but Simon did well in the other tasks. We’re very, very curious for the first results! The debriefer told us our LRN was the best he had seen till so far. So, let’s keep our fingers crossed.
The flight itself was wonderful. We saw many storks and a lot of happy Lithuanians fanatically waiving at us with their out-of-bed looks. We were surprised about the Lithuanian farming methods. No machines to milk the cows, just true hands. Everywhere babushka’s were milking cows while having their bike with milk can parked next to them. Lovely. The hilly landscape came as a surprise too. Beautiful!

Thursday 24 May: Black flag again

This afternoon our team was strengthened with two more Swedes. Bengt and Tove arrived in Marijampole after a long day of travelling. A hesitation waltz and a fly on were scheduled for this evening’s flight. We all gathered at a sport field in between some Soviet blocks. We’ve been waiting a long time for the wind to drop, however, we had a lot of locals to communicate with so it was not even that bad. Especially the children were very curious about our strange languages. Eventually the black flag was raised, again. The chances for tomorrow look better luckily!
This evening we had some food at the pizza place next door. We watched some of the Eurovision songs. Hmm, I didn’t really know what to think about the Dutch one. Anyways, four Lithuanians supported my country and I got a happy ‘yeeeeey, the Netherlaaaaaands’ and a high five every time I walked by.
While writing this an old man with a bucket of paper flowers comes by and gives me one of them. Thanks!
Ok, sleep well people!
Greetings from the co-pilot ^^