The history of an amazing girl running on skis begins unusually since from… the change of date of birth. In fact Justyna Kowalczyk was born on 19 January 1983 in Limanowa but due to a coincidence, the date of 23 January is in the documents. Nobody put that right and Justyna can celebrate her birthday twice. There is only the issue of a zodiac sign to be clarified. Justyna admits that she feels closer to a stubborn Capricorn.
A flair for sport was noticeable in the girl from Kasina Wielka already at primary school. Janusz Kałużny was her first physical education teacher and a person to whom she is grateful for bringing out passion for sport to this day. Justyna competed in flat, cross-country races, she played volleyball and handball. A person who convinced her for skiing was Stanisław Mrowca, her first coach in Maraton Mszana Dolna club, which she joined in the seventh grade of the primary school.
One year later Justyna promised that if she was the sub junior Polish champion, she would start to train racing seriously. After the six months of trainings there was a victory – in 3 km racing of classic technique, in which she won by almost one minute. Since Justyna does not break her promises, she connected her future with skies.
The next stage was Athletic Championship School in Zakopane, although her parents did not hide that they had other plans for their youngest daughter. They wanted a girl with humanistic flair, having very good grades, to become a lawyer. Justyna, however, did it her way, and at school in Zakopane she was not only learning ski running, but she also toughened up. At residential school, far away from home, she often had to grit her teeth, facing envious schoolmates, since she was better on ski routes, despite lacking running technique at that time.
While she was at school, this talented teenager attracted the attention of a couch Aleksander Wierietielny. Although in Zakopane Justyna trained supervised by Ludwik Tokarz, her training plans were set up by the national team coach. That is how a championship duet was created. In December 2001 Justyna debuted in the World Cup and in the second start she surprised everybody by scoring the first Grand Prix point. The next years of trainings and starts supervised by Aleksander Wierietielny brought further good results. Year after year the Polish girl was becoming more popular on the world routes.
In 2005 there was a drama. Justyna was disqualified for two years, after finding in her organism a drug which is on the list of banned medicines. Pretty soon it was clear that the reason for that was a medicine subscribed by a doctor at a poviat hospital for the Achilles tendon pain. Nobody informed Justyna that the fact of taking such a drug should be reported to the anti-doping control and then there would not have been any problem, any disqualification. Justyna’s great results, which she achieved during the World Championships in Oberstdorf, were annulled. She was crying for several days closed in her room in her hometown Kasina Wielka. Then she took actions and fought for shortening the suspension. Her arguments were strong and after submitting the appeal, the Ski Federation shortened her punishment to six months.
Several weeks before the beginning of Olympic competition in Turin, Justyna could come back on routes and before she went to Italy, for the first time in her career she was on the World Cup podium. She achieved that in Estonian town Otepaeae, which is one of her favourite places on earth till now. However, only few anticipated that during Olympic competition she would have a place on the podium again. She had ups and downs in Turin. First, she did not finish her key competition 10 kilometres of classic technique to finally win a bronze medal for 30 km for skate technique. After that each season was better than the previous one. Gold, silver and bronze medals won at Vancouver Winter Olympics, World Championships in Liberec, two Crystal Balls already. Justyna Kowalczyk became the star of world running routes.
Skis are almost all Justyna's life but... not all. For each trip she takes a bag filled with books. In her life she already had a period of fascination with Gombrowicz, French literature, she reads lots of works of Russian writers, which she likes reading in original. It should be highlighted that due to her coach Wierietielny, Justyna is strongly connected with the people from the East. She has the best contact with her friends from Russia and she likes spending time with them during competitions. Intensive training and frequent trips did not prevent Justyna from achieving education. In 2009 she obtained MA degree and defended her MA thesis "Analysis of training loads of Justyna Kowalczyk in the season 2002-2003". She says openly that she thinks about PhD. However, now she plans to run to the Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014 in the best condition, then she will be at the optimal age for a ski runner.