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Gudlevskis Stunning Latvian Olympic Mask Story

Gudlevskis Stunning Latvian Olympic Mask Story

Kristers Gudlevskis Latvian Olympic Mask topLatvian goalie Kristers Gudlevskis did not have a lot of time to get his mask ready before the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but he had only one request for his painter.

Gudlevskis wanted Latvia’s Freedom Monument featured prominently.

With only a week to work, Jesse Acciacca of Jesse’s Custom Design Airbrush Studio delivered so much more, turning the new Vaughn mask made by Pro’s Choice into a work of art that has since become a huge hit a the Sochi Olympics.

“One week before Kristers was set to be on his way to Sochi for the 2014 Olympics to play for his Home team Latvia he called me to discuss his mask paint job the only thing he was real sure that he wanted was the Liberty monument on the forehead,” Acciacca said. “Other than that he left it up to me. With a short time to do this one I tried to make it a simple, but somewhat detailed as possible, using the elements of the Latvia crest and the burgundy-and-white striped flag as a background.”

The mask could be on display at least one more time in these Olympics, as Gudlevskis, a Tampa Bay Lightning prospect who has spent time in the ECHL, AHL and NHL (as an emergency call-up backup), and the Latvians take on Switzerland in the qualification round on Wednesday.

The centrepiece, as requested, is on the forehead: The lady of liberty holding gilded stars, just as she appears atop the Freedom Monument a memorial in Riga that honours soldiers killed during the Latvian War of Independence from 1918-1920.

The rest of the mask uses pieces of the Latvian Coat of Arms, including the rising sun that sits on the chin, a red lion on the right, and a silver griffin on the left.

The Pro’s Choice proprietary Tri Cat Cage has been been painted white, a perfect compliment to the burgundy and white striped background of the Latvian flag.

It’s a striking mask, and it’s not the only Pro’s Choice-Acciacca combination in Sochi. The mask maker and painter also teamed up for Tuukka Rask’s Finnish mask You can see more of the Boston-area artist’s work on his company website, and Facebook Page, and on Twitter. In the meantime enjoy his latest painting on the canvas provided by Pro’s Choice, who are also on Facebook and Twitter:


Kristers Gudlevskis Latvian Olympic Mask right side

Kristers Gudlevskis Latvian Olympic Mask front

Kristers Gudlevskis Latvian Olympic Mask left side\ Kristers Gudlevskis Latvian Olympic Mask top


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  1. Martin Sordo

    My helmet is off. Amazing I am not from Latvia, but just looking at it and what it represents, makes me feel Latvian.

    • silvia rozenbergs

      having grown up as a child of dps it is heartwarming to witness Latvia being able to display the monument of freedom and wear latvian jerseys. Teti, I think of you and your words, latvia will never be free.. I am sad that you are no longer here to witness the freedom of latvia that I am seeing over the years. Heaven bless you and mama as you smile down to see your nation no in such glory.

      • Wendy Ielaidnis McKinney

        I saw your post and had to comment. I know my Teti has to be smiling in heaven to see his beloved Latvia returning to its former glory. He never gave up hope. My grandparents fortunately did love long enough to see a free Latvia, but were too old to return. However he would not be happy about the site of these Olympic Games at all.

      • Edgars

        Touching… ;(

      • Ance

        This actually brings tears in my eyes. Very nice words. I think of the same when Ithink of my relatives and grandparents, who did not have a chance to experience and see the free Latvian country and free Latvian nation. All these small and great things in everyday lifeo or particular times just strenghtens us as a nation and as a country. I hope it will last forever and all bad things just will stay in the history and people`s memories, not in their works.
        Great story!

      • Anna

        These comments also brought tears to my eyes! I love his mask!

  2. Ilmars

    It is without a doubt very wonderfully done…. Stunning!

  3. intadilorenzo

    Outstanding..go Latvia.

  4. Cheryl Morin

    The Latvian Goalie was awesome in the Olympic game against Canada (I’m Canadian). The mask was beautiful, mesmerizing and generated many curious questions from the hockey spectators in my living room such as “Do you think that’s his grandmother sending him the strength and efficiency of. 100 Carey Price’s!”

    • ihaznone

      Somehow she is grandmother for all latvians.

  5. Talivaldis

    Awesome mask! Baigi forshi!

    • Vita Bandeniece

      Patriotisms un pieder?ba mazajai Latvijai,j?tams lepnums!

  6. Anita Silenieks

    So impressive! !!!!!! Love the art, love the team, love the country!

  7. Anita Walters

    This game between Latvia and Canada stirred up emotions of pride and patriotism and helped to provide a proud platform for Latvia and Latvians everywhere. So well done! And now we cheer on Canada.

  8. Linda

    Great job Team Latvia!! All Latvians should be proud!!!

  9. Krists

    Amazing teamwork in olympics hockey, proud to be latvian, proud for our team.
    Cool artwork 🙂

  10. Kurt

    What bugs me about this is that anybody who uses Adobe Illustrator would recognize those jagged black outlines around the lion and griffin as what happens when you put a thick stroke on a path with a mess of anchor points. It’s not difficult to clean up. The lion in particular looks messy.

    I love the concept, but I think the execution could be cleaned up a bit.

  11. Hugo A. Kalns

    My husband is from Latvia. We are very proud that this young man is wearing such a lovely Mask! All people regardless should be impressed with his willpower !

  12. Ilze

    terrible, I do not like it

  13. Andris

    Freedom Monument — a memorial in Riga that honours soldiers killed during the Latvian War of Independence from 1918-1920.

    Although there are figures of soldiers at the bottom of the monument represented by a woman holding 3 stars (3 historical regions of Latvia), it primarily stands for Latvia’s freedom and the inscription on the monument “For our fatherland and liberty” says it all. 🙂 Just saying that it is a very strong symbol for Latvians, not only in memory of our soldiers and past, but for our present and future as well!

  14. Maris Malderis

    Being a 1st. generation Canadian (parents & granparents from Latvia) I was happy to see my 2 favorite teams play 1 of the best games of the Olympics. Wonder if that design can be copied onto my m/c helmet ?

  15. Paul Ipolito

    Very interesting discussion. I am encouraged to read more about Latvia and the history behind the mask image. I guess it’s not always about save percentage.

  16. Drew Deics

    It is hard for me to see who my Dad who is from Cesis Latvia, watching Latvia and Canada playing hockey. He is very proud to be a Canadian and served in the Military here for 34 years But you sure can see the pride he has when Latvia comes out on the ice. He always points out Latvia players here in North America and hopes to see his grand kids play for his home land or for Canada. Keep up the good work you are doing keeping the pride alive

  17. EJ

    Latvia lives on and makes history in these Olympics, Hockey team was amazing, and lead by an American Indian Ted Nolan who is fantastic as a coach !!!!
    Bobsled competition – NBC did a poor job , actually surprising how a network can marginalize Silver Medalists and just mutter about it for 3 seconds… and go on and ?! where was it?! ”
    and Melbardis got silver for his small country” =advertisement

  18. katrina

    My mother is Latvian, her parents had to flee Latvia during the War before the Iron Curtain fell. Us kids were raised with close connection to our Latvian roots and I’m very proud to be Latvian/American. My next paint job on my goalie mask is to be similar to this. Love it! !!