Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Worlds 2011 Blog: A Learning Experience

Inside the FISA Press Centre
Worlds are rolling, and it has been a great learning experience so far, not only from the standpoint of the rowing itself (certainly educational to see all the best athletes in our sport gathered in one place, all with the Olympics on the line), but also from the standpoint of writing and journalism. I've had the chance to meet and speak with a number of the top athletes in world rowing at this point, and I've been generally impressed by their open and friendly attitude -- I suppose it's something that ought to link everyone in the rowing community, as rowing is outside the mainstream, and not subjected to the same scrutiny that professional sports are. Still, conducting interviews isn't always the easiest thing, especially early in the week, as athletes are very concerned about qualification, and unwilling to be as candid as they might otherwise be, in most cases, because of it. And that, of course, is perfectly understandable. Ultimately, it's all about the racing.

For today, I've switched tacks a little bit. There's a ton of tension at the course right now, with the semis and finals looming, not to mention the ongoing reps. For this reason, I checked in with Rob Williams and Moe Sbihi of Team GB regarding Mark Hunter's enormous DVD collection, what they're up to during all the hours (and days) of down time here at the course, and what it's going to take for me to convert Moe into a San Francisco Giants fan. Obviously, we're in a beautiful place, but there is only so much you can do to enjoy it when you are supposed to stay off your feet as much as possible unless they are connected to the footstretchers. I also asked Canadian coach Mike Spracklen about his thoughts on the progress that his boats have made since Lucerne, including the moves of Malcolm Howard back into the eight, and Will Crothers up to stroke.

From a personal standpoint -- what can I say? I've been enjoying every minute of it. It's a new format for coverage, and we're tweaking it all the time, so if there is something in addition to what we are doing that RR and IRN readers want to see, just let me know. Another personal note: the people of Slovenia have been extremely accommodating, and the town has done everything possible to make the event an easy one for both the athletes and the journos. The amount of English fluency is impressive (I'm still working on Slovene), and there is a general sense of welcome.

There are a few challenges left, and I'm not talking about the ones facing the athletes. For example, I'm kicking around the idea of swimming out to the island (the most common way to reach it) -- though as someone who has to think back to lessons learned from GI Joe ('knowing is half the battle!') to reference how to tread water, it may be more of a journey that I ought to make. Fortunately, there are more than a few very quick boats out here, should I need to be rescued...

More upcoming in the daily Worlds coverage on RowingNews.com.

Monday, August 29, 2011

VOTW: Referral to Rowing News' Online Coverage of the 2011 World Championships

Morning light over Lake Bled (Photo: B. Kitch)
The 2011 World Rowing Championships are in full swing, and Bryan is on the scene covering the regatta for Rowing News. The coverage will be updated each day, and Day One and Day Two have already been posted, including links to 14 video interviews (and counting) that will serve as this week's continuously updated batch of VOTWs. So far, Bryan has spoken with...

Andrew Triggs-Hodge, Olympic Champion and stroke of the GB M2-
Olivier Siegelaar, Beijing Olympian and seven seat of The Netherlands' M8
Phelan Hill, 2010 World silver medalist and coxswain of the GB M8
Drew Ginn, Sam Loch, Joshua Dunkley-Smith, and Nicholas Purnell of the Australian M4-
Andrew Campbell, 2011 U23 World bronze medalist and US LM1x
Will Daly, Beijing Olympian and three seat of the US LM4-
Marcus Bateman and Matt Wells ('Red Express'), 2010 World silver medalists and GB M2x
Duncan Grant, three-time World Champion and New Zealand LM1x
Ursula Grobler, holder of the indoor rowing world record and US LW1x
Hester Goodsell and Sophie Hosking, 2011 Munich World Cup winners and GB LW2x
Tom Aggar, ASM1x world best time holder and 2010 World Champion of Team GB
Ron Harvey, three-time World medalist and five time US National Team member of the USA ASM1x
Darcy Marquardt, two-time Olympian and seven seat of the Canadian W8
Hillary Saeger, Nicole Dinion, Lindsay Hochman, and Katherine Robinson of the US LW4x

With many more to come as the regatta continues!

Check out the coverage on RowingNews.com for daily updates. Also, let us know what you think of the coverage via the contact page, and follow @RowingNews and @rowingrelated on Twitter for further notes on the racing and our coverage throughout the week.

-RR

Friday, August 26, 2011

World Rowing Championships 2011: RR Picks and Predictions

Afternoon on Lake Bled (Photo: B. Kitch)
The World Rowing Championships are about to begin, and we're on site for the first time, very much looking forward to the racing. Disclaimer: There are a huge number of events, so in making our picks, we've had to be selective based on our knowledge/ability to do sufficient research. Fair warning: this article will contain opinions.

So, without further ado, here we go:

Women's eight -

1. USA
2. Canada
3. Great Britain
4. The Netherlands
5. Romania
6. Germany

Yes, this is very similar to the Lucerne final. The USA, however, is brining the best lineup in the world to the event this time, with several Beijing Olympic Champions back in the boat (split into pairs for Lucerne). We are expecting an open water victory for the US, with Canada in a strong second place. Also, because Team GB is very well coached, and no doubt very intent on setting a standard for London, we see them breaking into the medals in Bled, though the eight from Netherlands cannot be discounted. All four will likely be well rested, as CAN and NED should take the top two spots to qualify directly for the final in heat 1, while USA and GBR will likely take the top two spots in heat 2, leaving ROU, CHN, UKR, and GER to duke it out in the reps.

Men's eight -

1. Germany
2. Great Britain
3. Netherlands
4. Canada
5. USA
6. Australia

The German men's eight has looked very good all season, but perhaps not quite so dominant this year. The GB eight is very talented and experienced, and, like their counterparts on the women's side, will be looking to set the tone going into London. Also, they had a very strong race in Lucerne in an unfavorable lane -- all of which seems to indicate that they may very well move a step up the podium this week in Bled. The Netherlands have an outstanding crew, featuring Diederik Simon and Olivier Siegelaar in the stern pair. NED showed that the characteristically insane Dutch sprint is alive and well in Lucerne, and they will be looking to firmly establish themselves as medal contenders in Eton following a fourth place finish in Beijing. The Canadians have reshuffled their lineup, have a huge amount of horsepower, and have brought back Malcolm Howard to the eight. While it's difficult to say exactly what degree of change this will mean for the overall speed, it's also hard not to see them moving up in the rankings given the switches. The USA crew that was new in Lucerne is back for their second international regatta as a unit, and will be looking to hunt down a medal in a very tightly packed top end of the field. There is a great deal of young talent in the boat, with Nareg Guregian of Cal at stroke doing an excellent job of rhythm-setting and racing aggressively. Australia placed 7th overall in Lucerne, and dominated the petites -- we see them moving up into the A Final at the main event here in Bled.

Women's Single -

1. Ekaterina Karsten
2. Emma Twigg
3. Mirka Knapkova
4. Xiuyun Zhang
5. Frida Svensson
6. Julia Levina

While Karsten placed fourth in Lucerne, she knows exactly what she is doing, and will be fully prepared for this regatta. Ultimately, she will have been less concerned with World Cup results than preparing herself as best as possible for the World Championships (though, having said that, the same applies to her approach to this year versus next year -- the bottom line is, she knows how tro structure a training program that will lead to her best performance when it matters most). Emma Twigg is up and coming, and will be looking to place herself in the mix for London. Mirka Knapkova has had a great season to date, having won Henley in July. Xiuyun Zhang proved that she has the speed to contend in Lucerne, and Frida Svensson is a standard among the top women's scullers. Julia Levina won the petite final in Lucerne, but had a brutal semi that kept her out of the A Final (Zhang, Karsten and Svensson were all in Levina's semifinal).

Men's Single -

1. Ondrej Synek
2. Mahé Drysdale
3. Alan Campbell
4. Marcel Hacker
5. Lassi Karnonen
6. Olaf Tufte
(7. Ken Jurkowski)

Synek has been dominant ever since Beijing, and is not showing any signs of slowing down in the lead up to London. Drysdale will be doing everything he can to catch Synek, but Synek just looks like he is at the top of his game, which put him at the top of the World rankings. Campbell and Hacker missed Lucerne, and while Campbell is having a strong season and, as a member of Team GB, will be looking for a strong showing going into London, Hacker is all over the map in terms of results. So far, this has been a good year for Hacker, and we're expecting him to return to form here. Lassi Karnonen is having a solid year, and will continue to produce solid results in Bled. Tufte, well, there is some disagreement on this one -- ultimately, it's a pick based on the past. He seems to be able to turn it on and off when he feels like it, and we're thinking that he will step up at the key time and get into the A Final. Also, we are looking for Ken Jurkowski to cap off what has been a breakthrough year for him with a solid performance in Bled, winning the B Final at Worlds for the first time (and setting a new standard for himself for London, where he may break into the top six). He's got all the tools, as well as the complete commitment that it takes to race well.

Women's Pair -

1. Great Britain
2. New Zealand
3. USA
4. Romania
5. South Africa
6. Australia

The GB duo of Helen Glover and Heather Stanning looked outstanding on the Rotsee, with a long, smooth rhythm and a solid race profile, establishing their lead and hanging on through a vicious sprint by Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown of Rowing New Zealand. GB is a younger crew, but given the experience in Lucerne, where they did not fold despite tremendous pressure from NZ, we are taking them to win once again here in Bled. These two crews will likely separate themselves from the rest of the field, though there will be a battle for the bronze. While we don't know much about the USA entry as a pair at this point, we do know that the US women's squad is perhaps the deepest in the world right now, so we are expecting them to be in the final and in the hunt for a medal. Kady Glessner won a gold medal in the the eight in Karapiro, and won the eight in Lucerne last month. Caryn Davies won gold in the eight in Beijing, and was also in the eight on the Rotsee.

Men's pair -

1. New Zealand
2. Great Britain
3. Canada
4. Greece
5. Italy
6. Germany

The top three crews in this event are looking to stamp their names on the podium in Eton Dorney already, and the Gkountoulas Brothers from Greece have shown year in and year out that they can contend. Hamish Bond and Eric Murray are looking like Drew Ginn and Duncan Free in 2007, though the talent in the GB pair is without question, and the competitive fire in Canada's a great strength (from the looks of it, Canada has also switched the seating, with Scott Frandsen in the bow and Dave Calder at stroke -- it will be interesting to see if the change pays off for them). Italy has a strong combination, and the Germans were tough luck B-Finalists in Lucerne following a cracker of a semifinal, so we are looking for them to break into the top six in Bled.

Men's Four -

1. Great Britain
2. Greece
3. USA
4. Germany
5. New Zealand
6. Australia

The British four has been outstanding all season, and will be looking to lock down the lineup for the Olympic Games with a solid victory in Bled. Greece has a very experienced and talented crew, and will be firmly in contention. Team USA is bringing a very strong crew to the event, with athletes who have done well in this event before (Giuseppe Lanzone and Brett Newlin), as well as proven sweep rower Charlie Cole (the top starboard in the US camp), and former sculler Scott Gault, who placed fifth in Beijing in the M4x. The USA also got the most favorable heat -- with 1 to the semis USA will line up against NZ, CHN, RSA and BLR, while AUS and GRE are in the same heat, as are  GBR and FRA. New Zealand had a strong performance in Lucerne and will be back in the mix again here in Bled. Also, Australia will be keen to break into the A Final following their 7th place finish in Lucerne last month, as Drew Ginn and co. continue their preparations for the 2012 Games.

Lightweight Women's Double -

1. Great Britain
2. USA
3. Canada
4. Australia
5. Greece
6. Italy

Hester Goodsell and Sophie Hosking have been turning in podium finishes for some time now, and with the recent reshuffling of the Canadian LW2x due to the injury to Tracy Cameron, Lindsay Jennerich will race with Patricia Obee, who has been in the LW1x (Cameron will race the LW1x in Bled). While Obee is undoubtedly talented, it is difficult to make things work with very little time in a very competitive sculling event. For this reason, we see the combinations from GB and USA (Julie Nichols and Kristin Hedstrom, winners of the 2011 World Cup in the event) taking the top two spots on the podium. The GB crew is coached by Australian Olympian and silver medalist in the M4x (along with Tim McLaren) Paul Reedy, and the USA duo is being coached by Dave O'Neill of California Women's Crew.

Lightweight Men's Double -

1. Great Britain
2. New Zealand
3. Denmark
4. Italy
5. Canada
6. China

Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter are back once again for Team GB, and we think they are going to continue their winning ways here in Slovenia. Storm Uru and Peter Taylor will be looking to topple their rivals, and we see them in a strong second place, with perennial contenders Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist taking the bronze in the event for Denmark. Italy's Lorenzo Bertini and Elia Luini are also extremely fast, and could knock one of our picks off the podium if they manage to put it all together in the final this year.

A few more, in summary format:

M2x -
1. Great Britain
2. New Zealand
3. Slovenia (on their home course, perennial contenders)
4. France
5. Germany
6. Australia (Beijing Olympic champions getting back in gear for 2012)

M4x -
1. Poland
2. Germany
3. Croatia
4. GB
5. USA
6. Russia or Switzerland

W4x - (we agree with Daniel Spring aka 'fatsculler' -- @fatsculler on Twitter -- on this one!)
1. Great Britain
2. China
3. Germany
4. New Zealand
5. USA
6. Australia

LM4-
1. GB
2. Denmark
3. Italy
4. China
5. Switzerland
6. Australia

And that wraps up the predictions for this year. Yes, there are some events we've missed, but the work that goes into the research is important, and we feel that what we've presented here is based on a fair interpretation of objective data, some of which we have included. Looking forward to seeing how it all plays out in beautiful Bled over the coming days!

-RR

Thursday, August 25, 2011

World Rowing Championships 2011 Blog: Arrival and First Impressions



The course in Bled is given to a particular kind of Alpine beauty, which lifted me up following a very long journey featuring plane/terminal changes at Paris CDG (one of the largest airports in Europe). Just as I was starting to get worried that I'd taken the wrong train to the wrong bus to catch the next plane, the Irish National Team appeared, and between the lot of us we figured out the right transportation. The regatta officials met everyone at the airport, and organized travel to the course in a very efficient manor.

Paris CDG on the way to Ljubljana (Photo: B. Kitch)
Once at the course, I had to gawk for a moment. It really is stunning. The striking verticality produced by glacial valleys is breathtaking (not to mention reminiscent of California's own Yosemite Valley -- though you'll not find any 10th century monasteries or castles there). The lake is already filled with athletes with kit from all over the world (note the rower talking about the kit's origin first and foremost), and the area around the venue is busily gearing up for the event, which begins on Sunday.

Ljubljana Airport (Photo: B. Kitch)
When I first arrived at the regatta HQ, as it were, I ran into Matt Muffleman, who is here coaching the USRowing adaptive entries from OKC, along with Margaux Jackson. Also spotted biking around the finish line: Cal women's head coach Dave O'Neill. The GB and German M8s were out on the water at the time, but I ended up catching the same bus back to the village as the GB LM2x (Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase), and the GB W4x (Melanie Wilson, Annabel Vernon, Beth Rodford, and Debbie Flood), who were very personable, and even helped me to sort out how to get around the regatta during race week -- hope to 'catch up' with all of them through the week as the racing begins. This was in keeping with the general feeling around the event this afternoon -- despite the pressure that regatta organizers, athletes and coaches are under as the Olympic qualifier regatta draws ever nearer, all were seemingly in a positive frame of mind, relaxed, helpful, and kind. I'm tempted to say something about the rowing community in general, but before I get too sappy, maybe it's just the overwhelming natural beauty of this place that has everyone smiling.

Lake Bled, Julian Alps in the Backgound (Photo: B. Kitch)
The apartment I've sorted out for the regatta is very nice. The proprietor speaks no English, but she and I can communicate well enough in German to take care of everything. I'll work on my Slovene over the course of the regatta!

More from the course as the racing gets underway.

-RR

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bled Bound

The lone bag for the trip, with some essentials, of course
RR and Rowing News are teaming up once again, and I'm on my way over to Bled for the 2011 World Championships. The athletes are arriving now, and I should be on the scene as of tomorrow evening. Look for daily updates from the course to RowingNews.com, with news, photos and video interviews from the course. Keep in touch via the RR and Rowing News Twitter Feeds (@rowingrelated and @RowingNews), and get involved on the Rowing News Magazine Facebook page.

Upcoming: RR Picks and Predictions for the 2011 World Rowing Championships

-RR

Monday, August 22, 2011

VOTW: Canadian Men's Pair Builds for Bled



This week's video comes to us thanks to the the newest member of the Canadian LM4-, Rares Crisan, who has been featured on RR before (Will Crothers and Crisan teamed up to produce 'Luzern Cribs' not long ago), and who has the makings of a filmmaker. Dave Calder and Scott Frandsen are returning to Worlds this year in an effort to build toward London, again knowing that there are some well-established front runners to catch. Their first appearance of the summer a few weeks ago in Lucerne was certainly impressive, as they were right in the mix with the top two pairs from 2009 and 2010, but ultimately unable to pull off an early upset. The GB duo of Triggs-Hodge and Reed have their hands full with the Kiwis, but if they don't pay enough attention to their North American rivals, they may find that the silver medal comes dearer than expected.

Also, check out Crisan's preview of an upcoming travelogue video that features some very nice editing and candid shots of the Canadian Team as they prepare for international competition.

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

Want to suggest the next 'Video of the Week?' Shoot us an email at rowingrelated [at] gmail [dot] com, or send us your suggestion via Twitter (twitter.com/rowingrelated).

-RR

Friday, August 19, 2011

Checking in with the Graves Brothers, Post-Trials, Pre-Worlds 2011

Back-to-back Head of the Charles champions, and 2009 US National Team members Pete and Tom Graves have once again qualified for the squad, winning Trials following a year of more consistent training together. Despite some early season setbacks, the brothers have put everything together at just the right time, and now are gearing up for Bled, just a week from Sunday.

RR: Following your second straight win in the men's champ double at the Charles, you two have finally had the chance to train together for an extended period of time, building toward your performance at Trials. How did you benefit from your more focused training, and how were you able to modify your race plan from NSR 2 to give you the success that you earned at Trials?

PG: Leading up to NSR2 we were very fit and were rowing decently together. Unfortunately we weren't mentally ready for a fight. Since that is one of the most important aspects in racing, we had an unfortunate final result. We changed our training plan quite a bit since then to train ourselves to be racers. It may sound like a silly problem, but when you do millions steady state meters without a coach things can get lost along the way. I always thought I was born a racer, but now I know I need to train that instinct and keep it sharp. I felt far more ready to race in august than I did in may. Were we faster? I don't know. I do know that no matter what our speed was in August, we were going to fight for every inch, against anybody, every time. That was the difference.

RR: What was your experience of Trials? Did you take with you an added edge following your disappointment at NSRs?

PG: We were able to move past the NSR2 result. We learned from it, but did not dwell on it. After about a week we put it in our review mirror and began moving forward. The experience at Trials felt different from previous years. Two races instead of five or six is quite a difference. On the plus side, the hotel bill was cheaper and the regatta was less taxing mentally.

RR: How have you conitinued your preparation for Worlds? What did you learn in your last trip in 2009 that will benefit you this time around?

PG: After Trials, we flew back to California and got right back into our training groove. We have had 2+ weeks training there and it has been beneficial. The entire 2009 Worlds was a learning experience for us. We are grateful to have another opportunity to get it right, to perform when it counts the most.

Thanks very much to Pete for checking in with us!

-RR

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Op-Ed from the RR Editorial Staff: Team USA 2010 to 2011 -- Compare and Contrast

The 2011 World Championships are drawing ever closer, and it's time to take a look at what USRowing is bringing to the table as the international community gathers in Bled. First, let's look at the men's squad:

Thinking back to last season -- Tim McLaren's sophomore year -- Team USA featured a few potentially solid sweep entries in what appeared to be their first circuit in the build up toward London. The M4- (RR Interviewee Silas Stafford, Sam Stitt, Henrik Rummel, and Giuseppe Lanzone) and the M8+ were both solidly in contention, and the four fought well in a difficult lane in the final to finish fifth in one of the most talented fields at the regatta. The eight was disappointed with a sixth place finish in the final, which did not reflect their potential, but was at least a step in the right direction with a solid group, including two-time Olympian Jason Read, and 2008 Olympian David Banks. The M2- of Ryan Monaghan and Deaglan MacEachern raced well despite inexperience at the international level (as RR interviewee Ryan Monaghan explained), and managed a reasonable ninth place finish, which would have been enough to qualify for London.

Now, explain this:

Five of the eight people I just named did not even so much as make the team this year. Furthermore, three of these five just raced in Lucerne as the second entry in the M4- (composed of Silas Stafford, Ryan Monaghan, Sam Stitt, and David Banks), which took ninth overall (just over one tenth of a second behind defending World Champion France, and less than two seconds behind Australia's entry featuring Drew Ginn).

How is it possible that not one of these talented oarsmen, many of whom have produced excellent results in the not-at-all-distant past, made the team this year? Is there a successful international program that has this rate of turnover each year?

Let's take a look at last year's results again in the M4-. The US finished in fifth place, behind France, Greece, New Zealand, and Great Britain. Yes, the dominant, lock-for-a-gold-medal GB M4- of 2011 was outside the medals last year (three of four from last year's lineup are still in the crew). The only remaining rower from the US M4- is Lanzone, and while Bret Newlin is no stranger to the boat (having taken fourth in the event in 2006), and Charlie Cole is clearly a world-class sweep rower, Scott Gault has been in the quad until this season. That's nothing against Gault, but what inspired that move? The double has now been folded into a new-look quad, with Stitt having been moved back into sculling with a month to go before Bled. Also, inexplicably, Stafford, who stroked the four (which was the top US crew last year in selection), is not only out of the lineup, but not even on the squad despite training and racing throughout the year with the team. Maybe he just lost every seat race to every other port-side rower on the squad this year? What was it that caused the US M4- to be abandoned? As the GB entry illustrates, it takes time for a crew to gel, and if GB can go from fourth to gold in one season of rowing together, surely the US could have improved on their finish had they been allowed to continue training together. There are any number of examples of this in other international squads. Another easy example: Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter (bronze medalists in the LM2x at the 2007 World Championships).

The eight is a similar case. A crew with a good mix of experience and youth that made the A Final last year was entirely reorganized, and the US will enter their third consecutive Worlds since 2008 with a new lineup in the eight. Jason Read -- a member of two Olympic squads, who rowed in the seven seat of last year's lineup -- is out of the mix. While the eight placed fourth in Lucerne, it is difficult to take much out of that result, given varying training cycles (the Germans did not race very aggressively), and lane voodoo (the GB and Dutch eights both rowed through the US despite the conditions, which worsened across the course from lane 1 to lane 6). Was that result considered so good that the lineup could not be touched? Why not try mixing in the athletes from the the USA(2) M4- in Lucerne?

Going back further than that, David Banks has rowed on some of the highest-finishing crews that the US has fielded since Beijing, where he represented the US in the M4-. In 2009, he and Charlie Cole won a World Cup medal, and placed fifth in the M2- in Poznan. This lineup was also abandoned, and David Banks is not on the team going into an Olympic qualifying year. The US M2- last year (Monaghan and MacEachern) then finished in the B Final, and so far this year's new duo of Pezsek and Stangel have placed fourth in the C Final in Lucerne. Peszek and Stangel are talented oarsmen, and perhaps they can move up significantly in the ranks given extra time together, but it is a steep climb in a tough event.

The problem, I think, stems from a combination of 'pressing' due to a perceived need for immediate results (i.e. McLaren feels like the clock is ticking), and total disorganization following the restructuring of the men's program in a shortened year following Karapiro. The result, then, seems to violate one of the sacred rules of sports -- that being, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.' It seems to me that (ironically enough as we have an Australian head coach) we have a lot to learn from programs in the Commonwealth. If we are constantly reshuffling every lineup, cutting both proven contenders and up-and-coming talent in an effort to produce something immediately, we'll be a long way from where we need to be as we back into the starting blocks in Eton. Talent has been slipping through the cracks for some time now. If 2011 proves to be similar to 2010, will we see the same kind of upheaval moving into the Olympic year?

The USA women, on the other hand, are an entirely different story. The system of bringing in new talent to develop alongside proven, Olympic Champion rowers continues to work well, and head coach Tom Terhaar is again on pace to for a dominant performance at Worlds. The depth of talent on the squad is considerable, and it is being used efficiently to produce results. A good example of this is Cal standout Kara Kohler, whom we've talked about before on RR, and who will be racing in her first ever senior level World Championship regatta later this month. She began the summer sculling at Henley, and following her win there, won the eight in Lucerne with a lineup that was without four of the most experienced rowers on the squad, gaining experience and mental toughness from a gutsy battle with a very strong Canadian entry. Kohler will be in the four in Bled with Sarah Hendershot and Emily Regan (both winners of gold medals at last years U23 Worlds in the four and the eight, respectively), and Sarah Zelenka, who won golds in the W4- and W8+ at the 2010 Lucerne World Rowing Cup.

The story of the regatta for the US, however, again looks to be the women's eight. The lineup is just outstanding. From stern to bow, it's Mary Whipple (coxswain, 2004 Olympic silver medalist, 2008 gold medalist in Beijing), Elle Logan (2008 Olympic gold medalist), Meghan Musnicki (2010 World gold medalist), Susan Francia (multiple-time World Champion, and 2008 Olympic gold medalist), Caroline Lind (Beijing gold medalist), Taylor Ritzel (2010 World Champion in the women's eight and U23 women's eight), and Jamie Redman, Amanda Polk, and Esther Lofgren, all from last year's gold medal winning women's eight in Karapiro. No comment necessary, other than that I look forward to watching them row.

Eleven days to Bled!

-RR

Monday, August 15, 2011

VOTW: US Men's Eight Wins 2011 U23 World Rowing Championships



This week's video comes to us from Amsterdam, and features the US Under 23 men's eight in what is a thrilling race in rough (but fast) conditions on the Bosbaan. The announcers join the race some distance into the first 1000m, but the heart of the competition comes, as usual, in the final 500m, with the US hanging on despite hard charges and tough challenges from reigning U23 World Champions Germany, Great Britain, and (most notably) the Czech Republic. The video continues through the post-race celebration and medal ceremony. As we've discussed on RR before, this marks yet another instance of an eight coached by Mike Teti winning a World Championship gold medal and setting a new world best time in the process.

Speaking of international rowing, the 2011 World Rowing Championships are just around the corner, and as the racing draws nearer, so it comes time to put on our thinking caps and make some picks and predictions for what promises to be an exciting regatta. In the meantime, check out Bryan's Worlds preview article on the US and Canadian national teams on RowingNews.com.

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

Want to suggest the next 'Video of the Week?' Shoot us an email at rowingrelated [at] gmail [dot] com, or send us your suggestion via Twitter (twitter.com/rowingrelated).

-RR

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Reader Video: Fast Forward Novice Year from Roeien Njord, The Netherlands



Wouter of Njord Rowing Club (Roeien Njord) in The Netherlands sent along the above video, as a recruiting piece for the club, as well as a quick summary of a novice year in the sport. Njord rowing club is one of the three founding members (along with Laga and Triton) of the 'Varsity' -- the oldest student rowing regatta in The Netherlands. The Royal Netherlands Student Rowing Federation (in Dutch it is known by the acronym KNSRB), was founded in 1883, though the 'Varsity' -- the Dutch equivalent to the Boat Race in the UK (though there are more than two competitors), was first held in 1878, when Njord (the oldest student rowing club in Holland), challenged Laga to a 3200m race in Leiden. There is a fairly good summary of its history (forgiving a few grammatical errors) on Wikipedia, detailing the first competitors and the current standings. At present, ASR Nereus (this year's winner) is the current leader with 37 victories, Laga is second with 30, and Njord is currently credited with 21.5 (the 0.5 coming from a dead-heat in 1960). A further point of interest: every member of the 1996 Olympic Champion Dutch men's eight had won at the Varsity regatta prior to racing in Atlanta.

Below is the video of the 2011 Varsity race:


As is clear from the finish of this year's event, the fans get into it! Swimmers swarm the winners, eventually submerging the boat -- though, fortunately, there are inflated inner tubes about decorated like victory wreaths to keep everyone afloat!

Thanks again to Wouter for sending us the video from Njord!

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Expanded Canadian Henley Coverage on IRN Website

W1x Dash at Canadian Henley (Photo: B. Kitch)
The coverage of the 2011 Royal Canadian Henley Regatta continues, with more video interviews and photo galleries added to The Independent Rowing News' website and Facebook page as of today. In addition of footage of the Men's Champ Eight race from start to finish on Sunday afternoon, there are video interviews with Justin Jones (2010 US World Rowing Junior Champion at bow of the men's eight), RR written interviewee Jason Read in his first video interview of the summer, and Natalie Mastracci of the Canadian women's eight as she prepares to head over to Bled for Worlds beginning August 28. Video from the Men's and Women's Senior Lightweight Eights upcoming.

Canadian Henley, which began in 1880, is one of the longest running traditions in our sport, and I can now say that attending the regatta as both an athlete and a spectator is an unique experience. The regatta course, which was used for the 1999 World Rowing Championships (click here for a great race in the LM4- from that regatta), and which continues to be maintained as a FISA-level regatta venue, gives up and coming club athletes a chance to experience what it is like to line up at an elite level international regatta. The volunteers and regatta organizers run the event in much the same way as their FISA counterparts, and manage to host a huge number of events without deviating from the schedule (weather permitting), which helps to increase participation as well as interest. While the timing of the regatta usually prevents members of the Canadian and US senior national teams from racing at the regatta, there have been exceptions (as with last year, when the late date of the World Championships in Karapiro meant that the Canadian men's eight could race in St. Catharines without interrupting their preparations for Karapiro), and there are a number of internationals at the regatta each year, helping to elevate the standard and broaden the experience for younger athletes. This is perhaps most clear in the small town of Port Dalhousie, which is nestled between Lake Ontario and the foot of the rowing course, occupying a narrow strip of land that is absolutely taken over by rowers during the regatta. Much like its British counterpart, Canadian Henley provides an atmosphere in a relatively small area for rowers from many nations to gather and intermingle in the local restaurants, bars and clubs, though without any of the formal restrictions of the English event.

For more on the history of Canadian Henley, please visit Stan Lapinski's website, where Stan has compiled a great deal of information regarding the earliest stages of the regatta, and regatta records (click on the 'Additional Information' link for historical notes on the regatta).

Much more to come as we draw closer to the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.

-RR

Monday, August 8, 2011

Evening Edition VOTW: World Rowing Junior Championships in Eton



This week's VOTW comes to us from National and International Rowing TV's YouTube Channel, and features a host of events from the 2011 World Rowing Junior Championships, including the gold medal performance from the US W4- of Chandler Lally (Radnor Girls Crew Club), Jessica Eiffert (Pittsford Crew),  Mia Croonquist (Vashon Island Juniors), and Lucy Grinalds (Connecticut Boat Club), coached by CBC Head Coach and IRN/RR interviewee Liz Trond. Also of interest at the regatta was the course itself, which is currently being tested for the upcoming Olympic Games in London next summer.

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

Want to suggest the next 'Video of the Week?' Shoot us an email at rowingrelated [at] gmail [dot] com, or send us your suggestion via Twitter (twitter.com/rowingrelated).

Upcoming articles: Catching up with the Graves Brothers post-Trials

Also, check out Bryan's coverage of Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the 2011 Royal Canadian Henley for The Independent Rowing News' website, and upcoming print issue. Video interviews with Rowing Canada Aviron President Dr. Michael Murphy, Olympic Champ Jason Read,  2010 US World Junior Champ Justin Jones, and Lucerne silver medalist in the Canadian W8+ Natalie Mastracci from the course in St. Catharines upcoming, as well as footage of the Dash Eight races, and the Men's Championship Eight on Sunday afternoon.

-RR

Friday, August 5, 2011

RR and IRN International Coverage: Updates from Eton and St. Catharines

Big Sky over Henley Island, St. Catharines (Photo: B. Kitch)
The RR team is spread across two continents at the moment, from Eton for the Junior World Championships, to St. Catharines for the Independent Rowing News' website and upcoming print issue coverage of the 129th Royal Canadian Henley. The weather looks to be clearing up at Eton Dorney, while the humidity and headwind have combined to make for slow conditions in Canada. First, let's take a look at what's going on in Eton:

The US JM8+ has advanced to the final after taking second in their heat, and the JW8+ is to compete in a three-boat field in the final, having come last in the race for lanes. The men's pair had a strong performance earlier, winning its rep (top three to semis), and the JW2- just made the semis as well, taking the fourth and final qualifying position in the rep on the women's side. So far, the top US crew looks to be the JW4-, which features standout 14-year-old Mia Croonquist of Vashon Rowing Club, and which won its heat and advanced straight to the final earlier this week. More to come from Dorney Lake as the World Junior Rowing Championships progress to the finals this weekend.

In Canada, over 2300 athletes have been battling each other and some very difficult conditions (consistent 10-15 mph headwind) through the first three days of racing, and there have been several very close races already in the pursuit of Henley Gold. For coverage of Thursday's events at Canadian Henley (which featured a 0.06 second victory for the NYAC in the LM4-), check out Bryan's article and photos on the official website of Rowing News.

The Independent Rowing News website will have updates following each day of the racing in St. Catharines, so check back for more content through the weekend. Also, follow the Rowing News Twitter feed for continuous updates (www.twitter.com/rowingnews).

-RR

Thursday, August 4, 2011

World Rowing Junior Championships Feature: Marin Rowing Association Involved at All Levels

The World Rowing Junior Championships are in full swing in Eton, and let me say that we here at RowingRelated are excited to see what Team USA can accomplish. The Southwest region is very well represented, with a large number of athletes from Marin Rowing Association in the sweep boats (half the women's eight, which is being coached by MRA Head Coach Sandy Armstrong, and the JM4-). Another top story is Vashon Island freshman Mia Croonquist, who has made one of the top priority boats on the women's side, the W4-, coached by Liz Trond of Connecticut Boat Club. Croonquist, according to this article, is the youngest person ever to make the US Junior National Team. Olympian and former US National Teamer, and current Williams Head Coach Kate Maloney is also part of the coaching staff, working with the women's pair.

We are looking for very strong performances from the men's and women's eights, as the men's eight will enter as the defending champions, and the women's lineup looks extremely competitive, featuring an athlete from the surprising James Madison program headed up by IRN/RR Interviewee Paul Allbright. The venue itself will lend an added edge to the proceedings, and Team GB will certainly want to show that they have a dominant program from top to bottom in the build up to the 2012 Games in London. Add to that a very deep German squad with its sights set on emulating their counterparts on the senior team, and you have the recipe for what will promises to be an outstanding weekend in Eton (despite its proximity to Slough).

RR is on the ground in Eton Dorney, and will be posting updates from the course as the weekend approaches. Also, Bryan is teaming up with The Independent Rowing News once again, and will be bringing coverage from St. Catharines to the IRN website throughout the weekend (check the IRN website for recaps and photos of the racing).

Upcoming article: Back-to-Back Head of the Charles Champion Graves Brothers Take Top Spot at Trials.

Monday, August 1, 2011

VOTW: How Greg Searle's Comeback Began



This week's video comes to us from the BBC, and details Greg Searle's early comeback to the GB squad following a nine year hiatus from the National Team (though not from rowing altogether). Searle has since carved out a spot for himself in the GB men's eight, which took silver in Karapiro, and, most recently, bronze in Lucerne (from a very unfavorable lane). Going into this year's World Rowing Championships in Slovenia, Searle and the GB M8+ will be looking to chase down the Germans for the top spot, with less than a year to go before the start of the London Olympic Games. Listening to this interview again now, it seems that he's ahead of schedule.

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Want to suggest the next 'Video of the Week?' Shoot us an email at rowingrelated [at] gmail [dot] com, or send us your suggestion via Twitter (twitter.com/rowingrelated).