Friday, April 29, 2011

The Big Row 2011: Cal v. Stanford Will Honor Jill Costello Tomorrow at Redwood Shores

The California and Stanford men's and women's varsity squads will renew their rivalry tomorrow at Redwood Shores, with the men's Varsity 8s competing for the Schwabacher Cup, and the women's 1Vs going head-to-head for the Lambert Cup. In honor of the late Jill Costello -- a major contributor on the Cal women's team, who passed away following a battle with lung cancer last June -- the men's squads from Cal and Stanford, as well as the Stanford women, will wear aquamarine ribbons (Costello's favorite color), and the Cal women will wear alternate uniforms/make use of specially painted blades (also aquamarine). The racing will begin at 10:10 am on Saturday morning, with the men's Varsity 4+ race, and will culminate with the two Varsity 8 races at 11:15 (men) and 11:30 am (women). If you are anywhere around the Bay Area this weekend, this will be an event worth seeing, with some of the finest collegiate talent in the US on display.

Men's events:

The Bears, coached by Mike Teti and currently ranked No. 2, enter the racing this weekend having just competed against long-time arch-rival, and current No. 1, Washington, on the Montlake Cut. The Huskies showed great speed, edging out the Bears in the Varsity 8 by just under three seconds, and defeating Cal by increasing margins in the 2V and V4+ races. The Cal Frosh, however, were able to reverse the trend, and defeated the Huskies by a length open. Tomorrow, the Bears will prove a very tough challenge for Craig Amerkhanian's Stanford men (currently checking in at No. 11), though the Cardinal Varsity 8 (stacked with top Frosh recruit Austin Hack and local stand-out Sebastian Peterlin) raced very well against a Cal V8 that included Dutch Olympian (and mechanical engineering student) Olivier Siegelaar, as well as California native and Coast alum Dane Oatman, at Crew Classic earlier this month, taking 2nd and crossing the line just under 3 seconds behind Cal. The Cal Frosh appear to be on pace for what could be championship season this year at the IRA (look for a dominant performance from that crew tomorrow morning, as Stanford will likely place their top Frosh in the Varsity 8, as they did in San Diego), and we think that the Cal 2V will prove too much for Stanford.

Women's events:

The Cal women (currently ranked No. 3), under the direction of Head Coach Dave O'Neill, return from Washington with a great deal of momentum, having swept all events on 'The Cut.' This is indeed quite a feat, as it marks the first loss for the UW women's Frosh 8 since 2009 (and the first loss for Head Frosh Coach Nicole Minett since she began coaching the Huskies). However, the Bears have come home to the Bay Area to face Yaz Farooq's very strong Stanford squad, currently ranked No. 2 in the country, and with a Varsity 8 that's loaded with talent, including two Olympians in Elle Logan (gold medal in Beijing) and Lindsay Meyer (5th place in the W4x in Beijing). Both teams have a great deal of depth (see our preseason profile of these two crews for more information), and the racing was fairly close between the two teams two weeks ago in Sacramento at the Lake Natoma Invite. Stanford defeated Cal in both the Varsity 8 and the 2V (by roughly 5 seconds in both cases) in Sacramento, and there is no question that Stanford have enough talent and experience at the varsity level to win this season. Cal, too, have a great deal of upside and developing talent in their program, with sophomore phenom Kara Kohler and senior co-captain Mary Jeghers, fresh from their gold medal performance at U23 Worlds last summer. The Cal Frosh appear to have the advantage over Stanford, as they are coming off a solid victory over a very talented opponent in Washington, and the Cal V4+ look to be quicker than Stanford as well.

For a full preview of the men's and women's events from the Cal and Stanford athletics websites, see below:

Cal Women -- http://www.calbears.com/sports/w-crew/spec-rel/042711aab.html

Cal Men -- http://www.calbears.com/sports/m-crew/spec-rel/042711aab.html

Stanford Women -- http://www.gostanford.com/sports/m-crew/spec-rel/042811aaa.html

Stanford Men -- http://www.gostanford.com/sports/m-crew/spec-rel/042811aaa.html

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

VOTW: California v. Washington Dual, 2011



This week's video comes to us from The Montlake Cut in Washington, where the Bears took on the Huskies over the weekend for the 100th Schoch Cup. The match-up is the first head-to-head race between the two teams since the Bears came from behind to defeat UW in the Grand Final at the 2010 IRA Regatta, claiming the National Title by just over 0.2 seconds. The UW program is extremely deep, as was in evidence in the 2V and V4 races over the weekend, but Cal battled very well in the 1V, finishing just under 3 seconds back of the No. 1 ranked Huskies, and won the Frosh event by over 5 seconds.

The above video is gives a behind the scenes look at the racing over the weekend, as well as some quality footage from the racing.

UW Husky Crew's YouTube Channel also posted two other worth-while videos from this weekend. First, an interview with Hans Struzyna (2nd place in the Men's Open at the 2011 Crash B Championships):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpCo6mzI-aI

And last, but certainly not least, a brief interview with UW Head Coach, Michael Callahan:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJ7vtHxQsqs

Note for FeedBurner Subscribers: Click the title of the article to view the video on our website.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

WIRA Championships 2011: RR Picks and Predictions

Following closely on SIRAs, the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association holds its Championship Regatta this weekend at Lake Natoma, CA. Based on the results from 2011, there are some clear front runners on the men's side for WIRAs, as well as some newcomers with a chance to make the Grands in the Varsity 8.

The favorites to win this year in the Varsity 8 are the Tritons from UCSD, likely by open water. Zach Johnson's boys have made steady improvements throughout the year (as we've discussed), and are coming off solid results from both Crew Classic and SIRAs -- they'll be looking to dominate this regatta and cap off a solid season on the West Coast as they prep for IRAs this June. Beyond that, there are a number of teams with the potential to make the Grands this year, all within a second or two of one another. Some squads that could find themselves in the hunt are UCLA, UCI, Orange Coast, UCD, Washington State, and Sacramento State (coached by UW alum Dustin Kraus).

In the 2V, UCSD will again enter as the favorite, having lost to Oregon State in their heat at Crew Classic by just 0.02 seconds, and having taken 2nd at SIRAs behind a very strong entry from UVA. The real race in this event will be for 2nd place, between the Gonzaga 2V and the 3V from UCSD, who took 2nd (behind their own A entry) in the 2V category at Newport Regatta (April 9th). The depth of Johnson's Triton program will be on display, and we expect both the UCSD entries in the 2V category to medal this weekend.

The Frosh race is going to be a barn burner between UCSD and Orange Coast, but we are picking UCSD to sweep this weekend, and make a statement about how far their program has come over the past few years. The Triton Frosh took home a silver medal from SIRAs, and will be looking to prove their speed against a quality crew from OCC. We expect to see Washington State and the University of San Diego fighting it out for the bronze. UCSB will field a quality entry as well.

Zach Johnson and UCSD are showing that they have made some major strides, and we may see them take down some of the more familiar IRA schools this June as they continue to improve. This weekend will be the next step in that process.

-RR

Monday, April 25, 2011

RR Weekend Review: Cal v. Washington, Tigers Victorious, UVA's Sauer ACC Coach of the Year

National Team:

Congratulations to Gevvie Stone and Ken Jurkowski, who had success at the first NSR over the weekend. Jurkowski, who explains that he has only been on the water for three weeks in his post-race interview with USRowing, won the Men's 1x by a narrow 1.2 seconds over Glenn Ochal, who has been in the 2x with Warren Anderson for some time. Unfortunately, we didn't see Anderson, nor did we see Will Miller, both of whom finished ahead of Ochal at the Speed Order earlier this month (Anderson won the event, with Miller finishing in 2nd place, 5 and 1.5 seconds ahead of Ochal, respectively). Where were Miller and Anderson this weekend? We thought they might be rowing the 2x and focusing on that, but they were beaten in the 2x at the same April 1st Speed Order by Ochal and Piermarini. It's difficult to understand how McLaren decided whom to send over to NSR, as Silas Stafford and Sam Stitt (who won the Men's 2- on Friday) were the only sweep rowers to make the trip from Chula Vista, though they were 3rd at the Speed Order.

Gevvie Stone took the Women's 1x ahead of a very strong field of sculler's from the USRowing Training program. Hopefully they will be able to bring home a medal in the 4x or 2x this summer.

RR Interviewee Will Daly took top honors in the Men's LWT 1x, with Julie Nichols coming out on top in the Women's event.

Collegiate Racing:

The Cal v. Washington Dual took place over the weekend, and saw Cal winning more races across all boat categories than did UW. The Cal women swept Washington, marking the first loss for the UW Women's Frosh since Nicole Minett took over in 2009. On the men's side, UW took the Schoch Cup with a one length victory in the Varsity 8 (video of the finish below), but also put their depth on display, as the margins of victory for the Huskies greatly increased in the 2V8 and the Varsity 4+. Washington crushed the Cal Varsity 4+, showing that perhaps there is little to zero drop off in athletes from the Varsity 8 all the way down to the Varsity 4+. Cal, however, won the Frosh 8 by open water in an impressive 5:42.87, marking a change in the trend from the past several years of UW dominating the Frosh category.



We are looking forward to some very competitive racing among Cal, Stanford and the USC women at the Pac-10 Championships next month. The Husky men look to be the clear favorite for the Ten Eyck trophy at this year's IRA, but Cal will have something to say about the Varsity 8 and the Freshman 8.

Congrats to the University of Virginia women, who won the ACC Championship, and to Kevin Sauer, who won ACC Coach of the Year for the second year in a row (and seventh time overall) over the weekend. The Cavaliers once again showcased their depth by winning every event over their conference rivals, racking up 60 team points in the process (click here for the full story on their performance from the UVa Women's Rowing official website). Clemson took 2nd overall, and the Clemson Varsity 8 was named ACC Crew of the Year for 2011 (for more Clemson's performance, click here).

The Yale women suffered another blow this weekend as they struggle to match the speed of the Varsity 8 from the last several years, losing to Radcliffe by one length in Boston.

The BU Men's Varsity 8 proved that it will be a contender, with a 3/4 length victory over Syracuse, and 9 seconds ahead of Columbia to take the Conlin Cup and Lusins Cup respectively. Brown and Dartmouth also mixed it up in incredibly quick conditions -- Brown sweeping the event, but with just 0.7 seconds separating the two Varsity 8s. Difficult to take much from this, however, as the conditions produced times that were some 15+ seconds below World Record pace (5:05.7 for Brown, with Dartmouth coming across in 5:06.4).

Princeton University's teams had a great weekend with the openweight women and lightweight men sweeping all of their races while the Heavyweight men won every race against Yale and Cornell except for the 3rd Varsity 8 race (video of the Varsity 8 race below). The Princeton lightweight women defeated Radcliffe lightweights in the Varsity 8, but lost in the 2nd Varsity 8. Great weekend to be a Princeton Tiger.



The Yale heavyweight men fell hard this weekend. Is that reflective of their true speed or were they just too tired heading into the weekend's racing? We'll see as Gladstone goes back to work to get them ready for Sprints in a few weeks. Cornell proved that they are indeed competitive this year in the Varsity 8, despite an early season loss to Harvard (conditions in that race seem to have made for a result that was not indicative of relative speed), as they were inside a length to a very quick Princeton Varsity 8 on Saturday.

Note for FeedBurner Subscribers: Click the title of the article to view the videos of Cal v. UW and Princeton, Cornell, and Yale on our website.

-The RR Editorial Staff

Friday, April 22, 2011

Princeton Lightweight Women Dominant Thus Far

The Princeton LWT V8 racing at Redwood Shores (Photo: © Jim Sykora)
The Princeton Lightweight Women have been making waves so far this Spring, beginning with open water victories over both of last year's top teams from the IRA final at Redwood shores. The Tiger Lights attended the Women's Pac-10 Challenge, March 26-27, and took on three different opponents in two days. The Princeton Varsity 8 defeated the perennially quick Wisconsin on Saturday, with a margin of over 10 seconds separating them from the Badgers. They accomplished this after besting a St. Mary's Openweight crew earlier that day. The Tigers continued their success on Sunday, defeating last year's IRA Champion Stanford by over 11 seconds, to finish out the weekend and begin the season in dominant fashion. In addition to the great results from the Varsity 8, the Princeton 2V has posted a 4-1 record, with their only loss coming to Wisconsin.

Most recently, the Tigers took on crews from Bucknell and MIT (ranked 6th and 7th in the US, respectively), and again took control early, crossing the line some 16 seconds in front of second place Bucknell, and 40 seconds in front of MIT. Given all this, it's no wonder that the Princeton Lightweight Women have found themselves, like their Openweight counterparts, as well as the Tiger Lightweight Men, atop the USRowing coaches' poll. Stanford is currently ranked no. 2, with Wisconsin coming in at no. 3.

The Tiger Lights have their next challenge coming up this weekend, when they will travel to Boston to face a 4-1 Radcliffe squad (No. 4 Radcliffe's only loss coming to Stanford last weekend on the Charles) for the Class of 1999 Cup. Princeton currently leads the series 9-2, though Radcliffe defeated Princeton in 2009. The Black and White will face a Tiger Varsity 8 that has not posted a margin of victory smaller than 10 seconds so far this Spring (for a full preview from the Harvard Athletics website, click here).

Following their match-up against rival Radcliffe, the Tigers will return to Princeton to face 5th ranked Georgetown on April 30th.

With roughly six weeks to go before IRAs, the Tigers appear to be in a very good place, though they'll need to continue to build speed as crews like Wisconsin, only recently back on the water, will undoubtedly improve as the Spring progresses. Senior captains Lauren Sykora and Emma Bedard will be conscious of this, and Head Coach Paul Rassam will have the Tigers on track going into Championship season next month.

For more information, visit the official website of the Tiger Lights.

-RR

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Photos from the Stanford Invitational 2011: RR Editor's Picks

Wisconsin 2V warming up (Photo: B. Kitch)
OCC Varsity 8 enters the course (Photo: B. Kitch)
Cal Frosh racing (Photo: B. Kitch)
Cal 2V rows to the line (Photo: B. Kitch)
Wisconsin Frosh racing (Photo: B. Kitch)
Cal 3V rows to the start (Photo: B. Kitch)
The top picks (pics) from Redwood Shores last weekend.
Like the photos? Leave a comment and let us know. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

SIRA Championships 2011: Recap and Review

This year's Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championship Regatta boasted one of the deepest men's fields in recent memory, which made for a very exciting weekend, filled with intense racing despite the storms and less-than-ideal weather that delayed racing at times.

In the Varsity 8 things got started with a bang, with crews fighting to secure the top spots in Saturday afternoon's semifinals. All the top seeds advanced with relative ease in the first three heats. The fourth heat had the most drama as a feisty Notre Dame crew put the pressure on GWU all the way down the course and fought valiantly for the win hoping to secure an easier semifinal, but came up just 0.3 seconds short at the line. The semifinals were filled with very competitive racing in a two-to-advance format. Delaware was the biggest loser in the semis missing out on the final by just less than a second and were only 1.1 seconds away from semi winner Virginia. We were very impressed by Delaware who have looked very strong all season and we expect them to be a factor at the Dad Vail next month. FIT, GWU, Temple and Jacksonville rounded out the other spots in the final, relegating St. Joseph and Notre Dame to the B final.

With the grand final on Sunday afternoon came a very high level of racing, which did not disappoint those in attendance. FIT displayed their preparedness for this race winning in fairly dominant fashion -- this marks the third straight year that the Panthers have won the event. They were clearly the sharpest crew this weekend, but we don't see them performing quite as well next month at the Dad Vail relative to the competition. They will struggle to hold onto their speed as everyone else catches up. Temple also flexed their muscles, picking up the silver medal three seconds behind FIT, but we think they were a little tired just a week after winning the Knecht Cup. As we expected, three tough races in two days a week after the Knecht Cup was too much for them to handle and took a little bit of the pop from their legs in the second thousand in Sunday's final. Virginia, under the guidance of Head Coach Frank Biller, closed out a very impressive weekend with a third place finish, just one second behind Temple. GWU surpassed expectations and finished fourth, while Jacksonville could not hang with the big dogs, finishing fifth, and less than a length ahead of UCSD, who let the pressure get to them when they suffered an overhead crab in the first half of the race.

UCSD clearly has speed and will have something to prove the rest of the season after their mishap in the final. Zach Johnson has done a great job building that program, as the Tritons have gotten consistently quicker and deeper with each season since he began his coaching tenure there, having posted their best finish ever at the 2011 San Diego Crew Classic just over two weeks ago. Expect them to dominate the WIRA regatta (two weeks away) in the Varsity 8, 2V, and Frosh categories and take a full head of steam into the IRA, where they'll be looking to upset some traditional powerhouses. Also worthy of mention is Temple Head Coach Gavin White, who has brought the program back to a high level, with the result from SIRAs marking a second straight week of success for the Owls. They battled well through some very tough racing to find themselves on the podium, and not far off a better-rested FIT squad.

Virginia showed they were just a little better than UCSD in the 2V final, squeaking out a one second victory. The Cavaliers also came out on top in the Novice 8, beating a very good and experienced crew from UCSD by 0.15 seconds. This weekend's racing was very valuable for the Virginia novice squad, and will help them immensely in future racing. We won't be surprised if they finish the season undefeated. The Virginia Second Novice 8 won over the weekend as well.

We are most excited (though not surprised) by what Virginia did this weekend as a team, winning three events (and taking home the team points trophy), and we cannot wait for the showdown between UVA and Michigan at the ACRA Championships in late May, which will be well worth watching, as we've discussed before on RR. We expect Virginia to put an end to Michigan's dominance and let them know they have a little competition in the ACRA league, but Michigan will not be caught by surprise, and will be doing everything they can to maintain their vise-grip on the club national championships. Stay tuned.

-The RR Editorial Staff

Monday, April 18, 2011

VOTW: The Stanford Invitational, 2011



Last week was a busy one at RR, with our first piece for Rowing News on the 2010 Cal Men's Varsity Eight throwing out the first pitch at a Giants game Wednesday night, and some great racing over the weekend at Redwood Shores. There were several barn burners, as Cal and Wisconsin showed some fantastic speed -- the Varsity Eight race was dead-even through 1500m, with Cal inching ahead as the two crews approached the line (both crews crossed in times within 4.5 seconds of the course record). Wisconsin's 2V got the better of Cal, who made a late push and came up short, while the Cal Frosh dominated -- this is a crew that may be on pace to win at IRAs this June.

This week's video, created and produced by RowingRelated, showcases the Varsity Eights from Cal and Wisco, Stanford and OSU, and Orange Coast College and UC Davis, as well as the Cal 3V pitted against 1V from Santa Clara University, the 2V race between Cal and Wisco, and Cal v. Wisco Freshman Eight race. In addition to the racing, Mike Teti was kind enough to give us his take on the Varsity Eight results. Thanks very much to Coach Teti for taking the time, and congratulations to all those who raced so well in Redwood City.

Note: The times included were copied from the results board at the course. The times taken for the Stanford v. OSU Varsity Eight race have since been adjusted, and now show Stanford taking first in a time of 5:53.0, with OSU coming across the line in 5:56.1.

Note for FeedBurner Subscribers: Click the title of the article to view the video on our website.

Check out the other RowingRelated videos on our YouTube Channel:
http://www.youtube.com/user/rowingrelated

Friday, April 15, 2011

RR Interview: Megan Kalmoe, UW All-American, 2008 Olympian and 2012 Olympic Hopeful

(Photo courtesy of USRowing)
While you may be familiar with Megan Kalmoe from her successes at UW, where she was an All-American, or from the 2005 U23 World Championships, where she took home the gold medal in the W4-, or from her fifth place finish in Beijing in the W2x, you might not know how much more there is to Megan than meets the eye. In addition to her rowing and training, Megan takes the time to be creative, and has a strong grasp of the sacrifices that she needs to make for her training, both physically and psychologically. Here, Megan catches up with RR about her beginnings in the sport, her experiences rising through the ranks, elation and disappointment in Beijing, and what motivates her as she continues to strive toward further success in London.

RR: How did you get started in the sport? Do you feel that your multi-sport background from high school helped you to develop more quickly as a rower? When did you realize that you could take the sport to the next level?

MK: I love this story.

So what I remember about finding my way to the sport is myself seated in the main room of the old Conibear Shellhouse, happily eating a meatball sub while my college coach, Eleanor McElvaine, told me and all of the other walk-on hopefuls of the 2002-2003 season that rowing was going to change me, get me in the best shape of my life, and make me a champion. I couldn't sign up fast enough after I heard that, as I'd only shown up to the meeting in the first place because I was about 30 pounds overweight and really ready to do something about it. I'd gained the lesser-known but equally-horrifying "Freshman 30" the year prior thanks to lots of partying and eating crappy cafeteria food. At 5'10", I had topped out at 185 pounds (and a size 16). None of my clothes fit, and I hated the way I looked and felt.

I really had no idea what I was getting myself in to when I picked up the sport. My background as a high school athlete did translate, but I don't think I would have been able to survive the training had I not picked up Cross Country as a high school junior. Learning how to train independently of my teammates and push myself through monotonous endurance training was a huge help to beginning to understand my personal physiology, maturing as an athlete and learning how to train for rowing.

I don't know if the path of elite athletics was as much of a realization as it was a decision. My college coach pulled me aside one day and told me that if I wanted to try out for the U-23 team in 2005, I had to break 7:00 on my spring 2k. So I pulled a 6:59.9. I got my invitation, and then went on to win in the W4- that summer at U-23's. That process opened the door for me to move to Princeton after graduation, and out of all the options I had when I graduated, training for the Olympics was the most exciting (and also the most difficult). It took me a while training with the Team in Princeton to think that I would ever get fit or strong enough to "take it to the next level"... probably around the time we had the red light on the start line in Beijing.

RR: What was your experience like at the University of Washington? Clearly, academics were a high priority for you (Pac-10 All Academic Team in 2004, 2005 and 2006) in addition to your athletic career (First-Team All-American in 2006). Did you find that the two aspects
of your daily life helped to balance one another?

MK: Ironically, I sometimes think that I would have done really well at Cal. For some reason, I never thought to apply there when I was looking at undergraduate programs. All of the Cal girls on the National Team now watch me with my scarves, boots, facial piercings and compost and assure me that I would have been a natural at Berkeley. But if I'd been a Golden Bear, then I wouldn't have grown up on Lake Washington -- the best, most maddening and starkly beautiful place to experience rowing as a true novice. The culture and tradition of Washington Rowing and the Conibear ethos of honor, loyalty, hard work and personal integrity have deeply affected my thoughts and ideals on athletics and sportsmanship as I've continued on to the Olympic level. Having experienced the Olympic movement as a young, inexperienced and impressionable athlete, witnessing the nobility and purity of amateur athletics firsthand and on such a huge scale had a profound effect on me while I was in Beijing. I felt that much of what I learned and had become a part of at the University of Washington fit very naturally into the ideals of the Olympic Movement. Moving forward, my adherence to these traditionalist, old-school values in training and competition sometimes makes me terrifying and overbearing to my National Team teammates (especially the Cal girls). I am constantly searching for ways to balance pride, humility, ferocity and compassion.

I want to say that academics and athletics balanced each other while I was a student athlete, but I was actually very annoyed that I couldn't maintain a 4.0 and graduate with honors after I started rowing. Inevitably time management became an art, and I still managed to get pretty good grades -- but between school, rowing and work I was stretched pretty thin, and I always wonder what I could have accomplished academically had I not committed so much of my time to athletics.

RR: Did you find the transition from being a collegiate athlete to a potential Olympian a difficult one?

MK: As with a lot of things, there were parts that were difficult, and parts that were very natural. I struggled and got my ass handed to me day in and day out while I was building my aerobic base and basic strength in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Learning how to scull was extremely challenging, especially trying to get more comfortable in the single let alone finding any sort of competitive speed. I dealt with a number of injuries while my body adjusted to the workload and the sculling motion. I was completely broke and building debt even though I had graduated debt-free and was working really hard outside of the boathouse in order to pay for rent, food, gas and health insurance. I cried more than once.

But on the other hand, I came to the Team at a time when there was a lot of opportunity for new talent to break in to the group. I had awesome role models in Lia Pernell and Liane Malcos to push me really hard to improve my sculling even when I was miserable. My sculling coach at the time, Laurel Korholz, was really patient but tough with me to help me get faster. Girls on the Team who were returning Olympians made everything seem so simple and manageable -- I learned a lot from training with them.

Probably the biggest thing I have taken away from that first year is an appreciation for, and understanding of, experience and maturity in the sport. I absolutely hated being told as a new athlete that I lacked the experience to be successful at something. I thought somehow that I could make up for the gaps between my experience and skill level with being scrappy and working really hard, as that had worked to a certain extent in college. But, much as I hate to admit it now, experience plays a critical role in many athletes' ability to be successful at this level, no matter how feisty or naturally talented they are. Maybe maturity is a better word, but whatever the X factor is that allows athletes to make good decisions about nutrition, rest, training, injuries, rehabilitation, communication and the lifestyle in general is something that you have to earn by logging hours and miles. There's no way around it. Admitting that, and then admitting that I'm never going to know it all has been one of the biggest challenges I've faced as an elite athlete.

RR: What was your experience of Beijing? You and Ellen Tomek posted a great result, but were just outside the medals -- has that further motivated you to train for 2012? How satisfying was it to take home two pieces of hardware from Lucerne in 2009?

MK: I don't know that I would call 10 seconds off of bronze "just outside the medals" but ok. Honestly, no one expected Ellen and me to do much of anything as a double in 2008. We were young, inexperienced, a little cocky, and a little stupid to think that we could race the Evers-Swindell sisters with any real chance of beating them. But did losing in Beijing motivate me to get faster? Hell yes it did. Making the final in Beijing was really something -- but so was getting my ass kicked on a world stage. I can tell you that the overwhelming sense of guilt, humiliation and sense of just... letting down everyone that had been reaching out and getting in touch with me and well-wishing for the past several weeks and months... it was crushing. But actually, I came back in to the 2009 season really refreshed and invigorated. I remember sitting down and writing this really focused journal entry before I started training again about how much faith I had in myself and my teammates that we could come back for 2012 stronger than ever. Whenever I hit low points now, I go back to that entry and remember how much hope I had for the USA sculling team coming in to this quadrennium.

I think it was something that was almost realized in the 2009 season when Ellen and I got back in to the double together. We trained really hard that winter as some of the only returning Olympians around the Princeton boathouse for a lot of the year. The speed was still there in the spring so we gave it a shot in Lucerne. There was a lot of personal stuff going on at that time, and there was potential for that race to have been my last senior team appearance. With that in mind, I remember racing a really pure race. I felt like I had nothing to lose. It was great to come away with gold that day, and then to have a really fun race in the quad later that afternoon. The quad was a really last minute thing, and Ellen and I only hopped in because of illness elsewhere on the Team. Winning the double really meant everything to Ellen and me; but also made it that much harder to watch our World Championship hopes slip away when she broke a rib later that summer.

I struggled with my own injury setbacks last year which made it seem like I was never going to get on pace with the goals I had set for myself back in early 2009. But I am still looking to get USA scullers on the podium this year and next year however we can. I still believe we can do it.

RR: How has the atmosphere around Princeton changed since the move(s) of the US men's squads this past winter? Has there been a greater amount of travel involved in your training this year, as the team moves between satellite training centers?

MK: It's a little lonely. But the locker rooms smell significantly better.

Seriously though -- I am entering a bit of an unknown space moving forward without a men's team in Princeton. I've never not trained with men around, and even though they are smelly and wake us out all the time, I do enjoy training with them. It's nice to have a support system in the form of other athletes who understand the lifestyle, but who are also not necessarily in the boat with you all the time.

Aside from missing them, the men's relocation has not really affected the status quo at PTC too much. We had our camps in San Diego and Oklahoma City this winter as per our normal schedule, and don't anticipate traveling much more this year except for the 2011 racing schedule in Europe.

RR: How are lineups shaping up with a view toward summer racing? Have things been established at all at this point? Or will there be a whole new set of lineups as new talent continues to be welcomed by the National Team, as with last season?

MK: Right now we're focused on moving singles for NSR 1, and another 6k test later this month. After those are over, we can talk about double combinations.

RR: In addition to training full-time for a shot at a second Olympics, you also take the time to be creative with your writing, and maintain a website at www.megankalmoe.com. How important is this creative outlet for you?

MK: I love my blog. I have always loved writing, and the blog has been such a great way to connect with the rowing community and share thoughts, laughs, and multimedia along the way. I never have enough time to write as much as I would like to -- especially now that I'm back in Princeton and working more with the YMCA doing their social media, but the monotony of Winter training tends to create a creative lull anyway. Usually things pick up in the Spring. Getting feedback on the videos I've posted of the Team has been really rewarding. And of course the most popular post of all time: "The Top 20 Hottest Male Rowing Athletes of 2010" still gets hits all the time, which is just awesome. I love to see people getting excited about stuff that the National Team is doing... even if it is just stalking hot male rowers at Worlds.

RR: Clearly, one of your goals for the next 500 or so days is to stand on the podium in London. This takes a singular focus, and outside the university environment it can be more difficult to find a balance. How do you maintain perspective as you train toward such a goal?

MK: Interestingly, I think that being a full time athlete makes it easier to maintain balance than it ever was as a collegiate student athlete. Mostly because there isn't much on the other side of the scale, so you can toss the scale entirely. Tom [Terhaar] told me once, "this is the one time in your life that you only have to focus on one thing. Just one thing." And he's right. It's an incredibly selfish time -- training always comes before anything else. It has to. But choosing this lifestyle allows you to give yourself permission to do that, and to just focus on yourself and your training without feeling guilty about it. If people come in to your life during this time, whether personally or professionally, they do so with the understanding that training is your priority and they are not (and don't stand a chance to be until you retire). We have to ask a lot of the people around us... friends, families, host families, employers... and for me that's the hardest part a lot of the time. Taking all the time without the means to give back. Yet.

Thanks very much to Megan for taking the time. For More on Megan's experience training and racing with the US National Team, check out her blog at www.megankalmoe.com.

-RR

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Bulldogs Are Coming: Gladstone Era Has Already Begun for Yale

As we predicted last Fall, Steve Gladstone appears to have had an immediate and powerful effect on the Yale program, and now the Bulldogs will look to be duking it out with Harvard, Princeton, Boston University, Wisconsin and Brown in the Grand Final at Eastern Sprints next month. In the Yale dual with Brown, just over two weeks ago, the Yale Varsity 8 was very strong at base cadence, understroked Brown for most of the race, and simply failed to execute a sprint -- something that, as Gladstone indicated after the racing was done, and Yale had won in every other boat category outside of the 1st Frosh (just 1.2 seconds behind Brown), they had not yet worked on at that time. For video footage of the 1V race between Yale and Brown, click here. Noticeable in the video is the distinctive Gladstone blade placement -- the Yale V8 does a very nice job of getting locked on quite early. Another Gladstone trademark -- apparently 50% of the Varsity 8 lineup has changed this week; the squad is deeper and seems to be more competitive top to bottom.

Last weekend, Yale faced Dartmouth for the 'Olympic Axe' in Derby, while Brown raced Harvard in Boston. Yale swept all events to win the Axe. Brown raced very well against Harvard, with their Varsity 8 finishing roughly 2.5 seconds back on the Crimson, though their other crews had a difficult day on the Charles. Looking at the 1V times, that puts Yale, without a sprint, 3 seconds back on the Harvard Varsity 8, which has looked very quick thus far this year (some have gone so far as to say they will be giving Cal and Washington a run for their money at the IRA this June). While it's certainly not a fool-proof measure of speed, comparative times can give us some insight into the Yale's progress to date, and, in case you've forgotten, the Yale Varsity 8 finished 5th in the Petite Final at Sprints last year. They went on to place 5th in the Petite again last year at the IRA (though, between the two Championships, they had a better finish at the Harvard-Yale Regatta, finishing 4 seconds behind the Crimson in the traditional 4 mile race). Brown (just 0.4 seconds ahead of Yale two weeks ago) took the bronze in the Varsity 8 at Sprints in 2010, and 5th in the Grand at the 2010 IRA. Dartmouth with 5th in the Grand last year at Sprints, and 2nd in the Petite Final at the 2010 IRA.

Harvard looks to be the class of the East this year, with BU a definite contender (having beaten Brown already -- Tom Bohrer is on the right track with that squad), Wisconsin potentially strong (though difficult to say after very little time on the water), Princeton solid, with Brown, Columbia, and Yale in the mix. Navy had a good performance, but not a real test, against a mixed Oxford boat that hasn't been training for 2,000 meter racing, but people seem very excited about that. Also, I have trouble understanding how Cornell is consistently being ranked ahead of Yale on the Rowing Illustrated boards, given the large margins of defeat for the entire Cornell squad (including a 17 second loss in the Varsity 8) when they faced Harvard on April 2nd. From the results against a solid Brown squad, and Dartmouth, it appears that with just over a month to go before Sprints, Gladstone and Scrogin have the Bulldogs on the right track both to make the Grand this year at Sprints, and to make it interesting.

In light of all of the above, we are picking Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Brown, BU, and Wisconsin to make the Grand Final at Sprints, with Columbia a potential substitute depending on how they perform on race day.

Monday, April 11, 2011

VOTW: Canadian Men's VIII builds for Beijing



This week's video comes from the Toronto Star, and examines the build-up to the 2008 Olympic Games. The video features some nice shots of the Canadian men's squad training indoors and on the water, as well as short interviews with the athletes and legendary coach Mike Spracklen. The level of intensity within this training program is palpable, as is the willingness of the athletes to do absolutely whatever it takes to succeed at the Games. Spracklen's distinctive coaching style comes through, even in these short clips -- he is as famous for figuring out how to motivate his athletes as he is for his extremely demanding training regimens. As the collegiate season builds toward the Championship racing later this Spring, the short, subtle lessons about work and about team ethos from this video are well worth keeping in mind.

Note for FeedBurner subscribers: Click the title of the article to view the video on our website.

Upcoming interview: Megan Kalmoe, UW All-American, 2008 Olympian 2012 Olympic hopeful.

Friday, April 8, 2011

RR Interview: Will Daly, 2008 World Champion, Olympian, and Current US National Team Member

Having begun rowing as a high school freshman, Will Daly has found success at every level of the sport during his rowing career. After graduating from BU, Daly was selected to the US U23 Lightweight 4- in 2005, and from then on he has continued to represent the US at the senior level -- a stint that took him to the Olympics in the LM4- in 2008, following a gold medal in the LM8 at the 2008 World Championships. Here, RR catches up with Will on his early career, his experience in Beijing, and his goals for London as USRowing looks to take advantage of the new facilities in Oklahoma City, which now hosts the US Men's Lightweight National Team.

RR: How did you get started rowing, and when did it really take hold as something you wanted to pursue at the college level?

WD: My rowing career started in high school, Kent. I started rowing my freshmen year, I was really scrawny and I didn’t even make the third boat, so I ended up rowing club, but still loved it. My junior year we went undefeated to win NEIRA’s and 4th at Cinci Juniors and to Henley, and I'm pretty sure that is when I knew this was something I wanted to continue doing into college.

RR: What was your experience as a lightweight among the heavies at BU? Did you find it helped you to push yourself further given the erg scores around you?

WD: Rowing as a lightweight in a heavyweight program really forced me to become as efficient and effective as possible otherwise I just wouldn’t have been able to compete at that level. The guys around me were pretty extraordinary there were a lot of foreigners from all over most of which had rowed for their respective Juniors teams and they really pushed me. These guys had massive erg scores and I really had to push to keep up with them, but my ergs didn’t really start dropping until after college.

RR: You played a major role in the development of the Riverside Boat Club Lightweight High Performance Group, which sent several men's LWT VIIIs to the World Championships. How did the experience of grass-roots club preparation for Worlds differ from your experience in preparation for the Olympic Games in 2008?

WD: It is a great experience rowing for an elite club program like Riverside, but when you are working full time also it really makes you think about whether or not this is something you want to do. Preparing to go to Worlds with Riverside versus preparation for the Olympics could not have been more different. With the club you are always trying to organize practice and raise money up to the last moment, there are a lot of external factors everybody is worrying about. Preparing for the Olympics was straight forward, rowing was our lives and so everything revolved around that we didn’t really have to worry about anything else, it allowed for more focus.

RR: You knew it was coming, so here it is: What was your experience of Beijing? How did you find being a member of the US Olympic team, and how has that changed your drive and determination to become one again for London?

WD: My experience in Beijing was very mixed, on the one hand it was absolutely amazing to be part of the US team and to represent our country in Beijing. On the other hand I still have a lot of disappointment about how we did, that has definitely helped focus my determination to become a better rower in every aspect. I know I have to become better technically, physically, and mentally. Someone mentioned the other day how excited they were that there are now less than 500 days until the London games, I hope that’s enough time for me to become the athlete I think I need to be to medal at the 2012 games.

RR: Racing at Beijing, it looked like your lineup had great base speed, but the first 500m was troublesome. Were there lineup changes being made or other factors that made smaller adjustments difficult?

WD: To be honest, that is one of my many frustrations, I don’t know why we couldn’t get off the line, we rowed the same lineup since selection had been made and we thought we had a good start going into it but we just couldn’t hang. I know the LM4- has already made some changes to account for this, we no longer do just a high twenty but rather our start lasts for 400m or more and this has really allowed us to be in the race going into the middle 1000.

RR: After the Games, did you take any time away from the sport?

WD: I didn’t do anything for about 3 months, I coached a little and worked out but I think I got out on the water about a dozen times. To be honest I was, like I think many Olympians are, a little depressed after the games. Not from our performance, but rather, everything in your life has revolved around this one event and all of a sudden its over and you don’t really know what to do with yourself.

RR: The recent move(s) of the US Men's National Team have profoundly affected both the heavyweights and lightweights this year. How has the adjustment process been, as you get established in Oklahoma City?

WD: I haven’t really had any problems with the move, while yes I am now living in Oklahoma somewhere I never imagined rowing would take me, things are good. We are training in a brand new state of the art facility with the best equipment and coaches and we don’t have to work around anyone else’s schedule. Plus I think having a strong lightweight group training together is a really good thing, all of us pushing each other. And yes it is very windy at times, but Eton is windy too, and when was the last time anyone went to an NSR and it wasn’t windy?

RR: What are the goals on the lightweight side for 2011, and have any lineups begun to form as of yet?

WD: Foremost in our minds is making sure we qualify the boat for the Olympics, beyond that I think making the A final this year would be a huge step, and obviously everyone wants to win a medal. I am sure some guys have already been working lineups out in their heads, but we have been spending most of our time in small boats. We also have a few young guys coming to join us later in the summer and I think they will be a strong addition to our group.

Thanks very much to Will for taking the time.

Upcoming interviews: Megan Kalmoe, UW All-American, 2008 Olympian 2012 Olympic hopeful. Also coming soon: RR Interviews Mark Hunter, Olympic Champion and reigning World Champion in the LM2x with Team GB.

-RR

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tideway News: 2011 Head of the River Race Report

Putney Embankment - Finish of the HoRR (Photo: B. Kitch)
Last Saturday, the Eights Head of the River Race (HoRR) took place on the Thames, making use of the same course as the Boat Race, albeit in reverse (from Mortlake to Putney). There was quite a showdown between last year's winner Molesey Boat Club, home to one of the biggest names in British Rowing, Andrew Triggs-Hodge. Leander started in second position, based on last year's results, and managed to reclaim the title despite two last-minute changes to their lineup due to injury/illness -- Tom Broadway was replaced by Ben Duggan (of Brown University, and bronze medalist at the 2009 U23 World Championships representing Great Britain), and club captain Rick Egington was replaced by Simon Hislop, fresh from his victory in this year's Boat Race as stroke of the Oxford Blue Boat. While Leander may have lost some horsepower, they certainly had plenty of experience, with 2008 Olympic gold medalist Pete Reed in the 5 seat, and Beijing silver medalists in the VIII Matt Langridge in the 7 seat and Alex Partridge in the 3 seat. The boat was coxed by National Team member Phelan Hill, who also coxed the Leander women to victory two weeks ago in the WeHoRR.

The victory for Leander constitutes a first in the history of the Head Races on the Thames, as no club has ever won the Fours Head (November), the Women's Head (March) and the Eights Head (April) all in the same season before, according to the Leander website. Molesey had a strong performance, as they missed first place by just over three seconds, crossing the line in 16:54.21 to Leander's 16:50.75, and also took tenth place with their second crew, Molesey II, ahead of Leander's second heavyweight boat (though the Leander Lightweight VIII placed fourth overall, in a time of 17:03.77). This marks the first time that Molesey has had two crews finish in the top ten, according to the MBC website.

A strong performance from London RC's first VIII successfully defended the Vernon Trophy, placing 8th overall with a lineup that featured five club oarsmen (with three internationals). The Vernon Trophy goes to the fastest club on the Tideway (clubs within London), and LRC I can be proud of their effort in a very competitive field. A nice write-up of this year's race, as well as some historical notes on the event, can be found on Göran R. Buckhorn's blog, Hear the Boat Sing.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

San Diego Crew Classic 2011: Recap and Review

Now that all the racing is done and Mission Bay is once again surrounded by a park rather than a hundred boat trailers, it's time to take a look at our predictions from last week, and the performances of the top crews in San Diego last weekend.

Women's Events: NCAA Teams

Well, we picked the right teams, if not in the right order. USC showed that they have plenty of speed and depth in their program over the weekend, pushing Stanford and Cal into second and third, respectively. Cal was in Lane 4, which can make a difference, with USC in the more sheltered Lane 2 -- but then, that is why the heats matter in San Diego. An interesting note on the USC squad -- of the 37 rowers listed on their Varsity roster, 17 are internationals. Zenon Babraj has done a great deal of recruiting overseas, and it looks like it's paying dividends in terms of boat speed for the Trojans, as they took first place in the Varsity 4+ as well.

We picked Washington to win the 2V and the Freshman/Novice events, and they came through in both cases, with Stanford and USC rounding out the top three in the 2V event. UCLA and Stanford took second and third in the Frosh 8. Another interesting note on the Washington freshmen -- UW Novice Coach Nicole Minett, now into her third year coaching the Huskies, has yet to lose a race.

Congratulations also to Alabama, who took first in the Women's Collegiate Varsity Cal Cup in a time of 6:56.90, as well as to Tulsa (second), and KSU (third).  

Men's Events: IRA Teams

As predicted, Cal was dominant. To Stanford's credit, they made the Copley Cup Grand Final somewhat interesting, and they have a great deal of upside in that lineup, with very promising freshman Austin Hack in the mix. We'll see what kind of speed the Cardinal can gain over the next two weeks as they prepare for the Pac-10 Men's Challenge at Redwood Shores. The JV was another showcase of Cal's depth, as they took first and third (the Cal 2V8 were winners, with the 2Frosh taking third place in the event). Freshman event -- again, Cal, though OCC turned in a decent performance, as usual. 

A local surprise and great performance came from UCSD, who defeated Jacksonville in route to the Grand Final of the Copley cup, where they finished fifth, ahead of Temple, for their best finish to date at the Crew Classic. Zach Johnson has done a fine job building that program, and we'll be watching as they compete at SIRAs later this month. Also, Michigan defeated Oregon State, as predicted.

Men's Events: Small Programs/ACRA Teams

Our pick, Oklahoma City University, didn't quite manage to pull it off from Lane 6 on Sunday, taking fourth as a very quick University of British Columbia took first place in convincing fashion. Drexel, about which we knew very little coming in, made a strong statement, with Notre Dame in the top three as predicted. One surprise was UCLA's defeat of Sac State in the heat, which kept Sac State out of the Final and saw the Bruins accomplish something fairly rare -- making the Grand after missing the Petite Final in San Diego only a year ago. A strong performance from UCI also held Purdue out of the Grand this year.

Junior Events: Men and Women

As predicted Marin proved that they are still the team to beat this Spring, building on a strong Fall that included a first place finish and new course record at the Head of the Charles (see the RR article on that performance here). Also as predicted, Connecticut Boat Club won both the Junior Women's Varsity event, ahead of second place Marin RA, while Oakland was pushed back into fifth place by very strong performances from Marina AC and Long Beach. CBC took first in the JV event as well.

Friday, April 1, 2011

RR Interview: Arthur Ericsson, Washington State Men's Head Coach

WSU Men's Rowing following WIRAs, 2010 (Photo: A. Ericsson)
Recently, there's been much reason to discuss the Washington State men's rowing team, as the boards on Rowing Illustrated suggest. After breaking into the medals for the first time at the ACRA Championships with a silver in the Novice 8 in 2009, the Cougars took first place in the Varsity 8 at the 2010 WIRA Championships, and later took home the bronze medal in the Varsity 8 at ACRAs. Here, RR asks Cougar Head Coach Arthur Ericsson about his own rowing background, the nature of building a club team at Washington State, and the team's goals for Spring 2011.

RR: How did you first get involved with the sport? How would you describe your own rowing background as an athlete, and what made you choose Washington State?

AE: Sadly, I did not stumble across rowing until just after college when I saw a 'Learn to Row' sign for a community program. I fell in love with the idea of the sport right then and there, and the next day I went down to row with my best friend. He lasted one day and I've lasted 15 years. My history in sports was significant, but I never really found a good fit to be more than good (ballgames). Now my athleticism had the right vehicle to excel. River City Rowing Club gradually built up some pretty fast Men's Masters 8s. I was always the only guy in the boat who didn't row in college. The only time that was ever an issue was when I first met someone -- they always ask, "Where did you row in college?" I was also the only lightweight in the boat, and that is why I have made a point of restoring lightweight rowing to Cougar Crew. I chose WSU because it was a big university. I believe that the larger the enrollment is, the larger the size of the team should be. And numbers are one of our fundamental strategies for a strong program.

RR: What kind of state was the program in when you arrived, and what unexpected challenges did you face when you took over the program as Head Coach six years ago?

AE: The team was very respectable when I arrived, but I needed to build up the numbers, and the lightweight program was non-existent at that time. Seeds of commitment and a vision had been planted with the previous coach and captain. If you looked at it you might just see bare dirt, but I knew that if I threw myself into it that we'd be able to harvest that momentum. I was involved in leadership in all aspects of the team, working with the student officers, admin. and alumni. The biggest challenge then and continues to be today, class conflicts for our daily rows. 50% turnout for rows is not uncommon. I am constantly working around this challenge.

RR: Since you have arrived, there have been a great deal of changes at WSU. This evolution was capped off least season by the best performance from the Cougars in recent memory, winning the WIRA Championships in the Varsity Eight (as well as taking home first place honors in the Lightweight Eight), and taking the bronze in the V8 at the ACRA Championships later last Spring. How have you gone about building a club program to the point where you have multiple eights medaling at regional championships?

AE: We have had some lean years, and the cycle of depth will always be a part of any program. But one thing that I can't quite explain is the type of crew we tend to develop. The guys extend themselves tremendously with fundraisers just to keep this ship afloat each year. For training on the ergs, I'm always incorporating mental challenges. They become fighters. If they can put themselves into a position of contention, they will prevail or die trying. The team works from a point of view that if you put in the same effort as everyone else, then you deserve to be treated with equal respect. And we are one of the few college teams on the West Coast that features a lightweight program. It's wrong-headed to do away with lightweight rowing because of the belief that it will dilute your resources with respect to the premier heavyweight events. Our two programs are really one and the same. They support each other and make each other faster as a result.

WSU Varsity launch at WIRAs, 2010 (Photo: A. Ericsson)
RR: Last year's success looks to have been built upon a very strong 2008-2009 novice class, which took home the silver medal in the Novice Eight category from ACRAs in that year, after having taken fourth at the Pac-10 Championships (edging varsity program Oregon State University into fifth place in the process). How important is it in a club program to field a strong novice program, and how has your novice men's coach Julia Gamache, WWU graduate and three-time Division II NCAA First Team All-American, gone about recruiting and developing talent?

AE: Half of that Novice 8 didn't return but of those that did, the depth of their talent created a big divide in our team that was extremely challenging. The old varsity felt threatened by their cohesion and talent, but also worked incredibly hard to defend their seats resulting in a very fast 8 in the end.

Of course a consistently strong novice squad is critical. There was one year in particular when our novice had no athletic depth. I watched the season unfold knowing all along that this was my future. It was a long hard year having to put all the same effort into coaching them knowing that we could only be so fast. The only speed we could find was by doubling into a 4 that year.

Recruitment at WSU is a team effort. We have almost no novices with previous rowing experience, and, quite frankly, those that show up at WSU, with a few exceptions, are almost always a joke. We just make it our goal to make sure that every guy who could row has been beat over the head a couple of times during the first week of school. What Coach Julia does to develop and retain them is the real magic. I think her biggest strength is what she says and how she says it. She's supportive but sets the bar very high. Her retention has been extraordinary both during their novice year and to return onto varsity. We refer to her coaching style as being compassionately condescending.

RR: In addition to the Varsity 8's successes last season, you also fielded a JV8 that took the bronze medal at the 2010 WIRAs, and three novice eights, all of which made their respective grand finals. How have the culture, atmosphere, and expectations of the team changed given the level of recruiting and intra-squad competition over the past three seasons?

AE: With respect to the guys that rowed here 4-7 years ago I would say that the culture (work hard) and atmosphere (work harder) haven't changed at all. What has changed is the size of our roster. This has presented its own challenges but has been one of the means by which we have been successful. I don't think it has created expectation though. Our competition is far to fierce to ever have expectations. But by having boats to race next to you each day, it's more fun and it makes you faster. The team points trophy meant a lot to us because everyone on the team was able to contribute to make that happen.

RR: Last Fall, you performed quite well against club programs during the head racing season, but found Gonzaga much improved from last year. How do you rate your speed at this time this year as opposed to last season?

AE: We were somewhat disheartened by the fall results. With only three guys returning from last year's V8 we are a young lineup which has needed time to develop. If you were to ask me three or four weeks ago I would have said that our speed is less than this time last year, but recent training has given everyone faith that we can be fast. And the novices are having another solid year.

RR: With San Diego Crew Classic just around the corner, what will you be looking for as you begin the 2011 season? Are you looking to make an early season statement, or are you training through with the singular priority of medaling at ACRAs?

AE: Every race is treated the same. We don't spend $600 per athlete to go down there and race anything less than all out. Whether a statement is made or not it will be a critical race. Races have to be part of the training plan. Sure the training leading up to it will be different than into ACRAs but with our winter weather challenges one should expect us to keep improving on the water after San Diego at a faster rate than those in warmer climates.

Thanks very much to Arthur Ericsson for taking the time. 

Upcoming interviews: National Team member, Lightweight World Champion and Beijing Olympian Will Daly, and Megan Kalmoe, UW All-American, 2008 Olympian 2012 Olympic hopeful. Also coming soon: RR Interviews Mary Whipple, Olympic gold medalist and coxswain for the US National Team.

-RR