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The Warsaw Voice » Society » March 4, 2009
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TWO World Championship TitleS for Polish Skier
March 4, 2009   
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Justyna Kowalczyk, 26, won two championship titles at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic. Kowalczyk won a gold medal Feb.28 in 30-kilometer mass-start race and earlier, Feb.21, in the women's 15-kilometer skiathlon event-a 7.5-kilometer classic race followed by a 7.5-kilometer freestyle race. Two days earlier, she finished third in the 10-kilometer classic event.

Kowalczyk is the first Polish woman to become a world cross-country skiing champion and the first Polish cross-country skier to repeat the success of Józef Łuszczek, who won a gold medal for Poland 31 years ago in the 15-kilometer classic event at the 1978 championships in Lahti, Finland.

Kowalczyk's greatest previous success was a bronze medal in the 30-kilometer mass-start race at the Turin Olympics in 2006. During her career, she has also won the world junior vice-championship title and world youth championship title twice.

An AZS AWF Katowice club alumnus, she scored her first points in a World Cup event in December 2001. In January 2006, she finished third in the 10-kilometer World Cup classic race in Otepää, Estonia. In January 2007, she won a World Cup event for the first time and in January 2008 she placed first in another World Cup event. She was third in the 2007/2008 World Cup season, becoming the first woman to achieve such a result in the history of Polish skiing.

In her first comments after winning the championship title in Liberec, Kowalczyk stressed the role of her trainers in her career: Aleksander Wieretelny, coach of the Polish ski team, and Wiesław Kmiecik, coach of the Polish junior ice-skating team, who worked with Wieretelny and Kowalczyk in 2002-2007, teaching her freestyle technique.
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