Friday, November 30, 2012

Film for the Weekend: An Inside Look at Portland Women's Rowing



The above film is an in-depth, inside look at Portland Women's Rowing–beautifully shot and expertly edited, this gets at the core of what rowing is all about, in a subtle, powerful way. Founded by Jeanne Niemer in 2006, Portland Women's Rowing now has a permanent place in the Portland Boathouse, alongside Station L Rowing and Rose City Rowing Club (home to Ruth Narode, who took silver at the 2012 C.R.A.S.H.-B. Sprints, and later backed that up with a silver medal performance at Junior Worlds in Plovdiv, Bulgaria). More on PWR can be found on the Oregon Public Broadcasting website, along with a slideshow from the 2012 Portland Fall Classic.

Thanks very much to writer and filmmaker Ifanyi Bell for sending us the video!

-RR

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Slow-motion Stroke Analysis: Xeno Müller breaks down the Lightweight Men's Four in London



The above video, which is the third in a recent series by Olympic gold and silver medalist Xeno Müller, provides a 15-minute tech talk looking at some of the most technically sound, efficient athletes on the international rowing circuit.

The final of the lightweight men's four in London was, as expected, one of the most dramatic races of the regatta, and featured a bonafide rowing legend, Eskild Ebbesen (a five-time Olympic medalist, with three golds and two bronze-medal finishes), in the stroke seat of the Danish crew. Joining the Danes in the final were the 2011 World Champions from Australia, an excellent GB crew, a surprising Swiss crew, South Africa (now legends in their own right), and The Netherlands. We all know how it played out–the comeback victory for South Africa finished off what was an epic battle, marking the first-ever Olympic rowing gold medal for RSA. In light of their accomplishment, FISA honored the crew as its Male Crew of the Year, and recently published an article, "Making History – the South African lightweight men's four," on their performance at Eton Dorney.

For more on Xeno's stroke analyses, including his looks at the Men's Pair and Men's Eight events in London, visit his website at www.xenocoach.com.

-RR

Monday, November 26, 2012

Video Of The Week: Xing it up with Princeton Crew



Just to get you all in the mood for winter training, here's a look at what the Princeton Tigers have been up to recently–a great preview of the land-based fun to be had this season as the water starts to freeze and the humming of the ergo becomes an ever-present drone. As usual, the editors had a good time putting this film together–particularly good are the freeze-frame moments through the final minute (showcasing the watchful eye of head coach Greg Hughes).

We kicked off a contest for all our RR readers last week, and the submissions have already started coming in for a shot at some JLRacing swag and a featured VOTW for the best rowing recruiting video. Given the prevalence of small, HD video cameras with waterproof cases these days, putting together something worth watching shouldn't be too tall a task–and once you do, ship it on over! The deadline is 31 December, 2012.

Want to suggest the next 'Video Of The Week?' Shoot us an email at rowingrelated [at] gmail [dot] com, send us your suggestion via Twitter (twitter.com/rowingrelated), or get in touch via our Facebook or Google+ pages.

-RR

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Contest–Rowing Recruiting Videos: A Great Example from the University of London Boat Club



The above video, produced by UCL following the Head of the River Race earlier this year, is a fine example of a recruiting video (whether or not it was intended as such), as it gives the viewer a window into the sport, visually as well as from the athletes' perspective. And, it accomplishes all this making use of very little footage, concise interviews, and a classical soundtrack–quite different from the norm. Much like the series of videos that Oxford produced last year during the lead-up to the 2012 Boat Race (you can view the whole series of seven videos here), this short film gets at just what rowing is all about–it is, well, beautiful.

RR readers: Have a recruiting video you want us to see? Ship it our way! Don't have one? Create one! Let us know in the comments on this post, via email at rowingrelated [at] gmail [dot] com, via Twitter (twitter.com/rowingrelated), or get in touch via our Facebook or Google+ pages. Should we gather enough responses, we will pick our favorite and feature it as a Video Of The Week, and JLRacing will throw some swag into the mix as well*!

*[You must have created the video to win swag]

Deadline: 31 December, 2012. Thanks in advance to all those who choose to participate, and Happy Thanksgiving! More on the University of London Boat Club via the official ULBC website.

-RR

Monday, November 19, 2012

Video Of The Week: Footage from the 2012 USRowing West Coast Fall Speed Order



This week's video comes to us thanks to Mike Modlin's YouTube Channel, and gives us an inside look at last weekend's West Coast Fall Speed Order, hosted by California Rowing Club on the Oakland Estuary. The East Coast, Midwest and West Coast Speed Orders are all in the books for 2012, and there were a number of notable new faces in the mix with a view toward Rio 2016, including a healthy number of under-23 veterans looking to make the next step in their international rowing careers. Interestingly, two of the three Speed Orders saw lightweight scullers win the men's heavyweight single, with John Graves taking East Coast honors, and RR interviewee Nick Trojan doing work on the West Coast.

For complete results from the East Coast, Midwest and West Coast Speed Orders, visit the official website of USRowing.

Want to suggest the next 'Video Of The Week?' Shoot us an email at rowingrelated [at] gmail [dot] com, send us your suggestion via Twitter (twitter.com/rowingrelated), or get in touch via our Facebook or Google+ pages.

-RR

Friday, November 16, 2012

USRowing Coaching Changes: Discussion and Analysis



As I'm sure you all know, there was some big news for those of us stateside last week. That's right, USRowing announced that it would be taking on none other than Washington frosh coach Luke McGee to take over the responsibilities of coaching the U.S. men's eight and U23 men's eight, while current lightweight coach Bryan Volpenhein will take on the additional duty of coaching the men's heavyweight four. Oh, and we elected a president.

Getting right down to it, there are some reasons to like this move, and some major questions regarding the timing and the new roles that these two coaches will take on as we begin a new quadrennium. First, let's look on the bright side.

Personally, I was excited to hear that Luke McGee would be taking on a role with the U.S. national team, particularly after we named him as one of our top candidates (along with our top pick, Tom Bohrer, and California's Dave O'Neill) in our piece calling out USRowing for not being aggressive enough in recruiting top collegiate coaches for national team positions. McGee has a very strong track record at the college level, helping to build Washington from a perennial powerhouse into a true dynasty over the past several seasons, culminating in a sweep of the IRA last June (and a new course record in the frosh eight, among other events). He then went on to lead the U.S. under-23 men's eight to a gold medal in Trakai, with a lineup that included several Washington Huskies whom McGee himself had helped to develop. The atmosphere and intensity that surrounds the Conibear Shellhouse under the current regime is unparalleled, and McGee shares a bit about that in the upcoming feature I've written for the next issue of Rowing Magazine. The long and the short of it is, Mike Callahan and McGee have created a culture where everyone's efforts are appreciated, as the will of the entire team is focused on one goal, such that the athletes in the third varsity eight feel equally valued for the pressure that they put on the top two crews as the squad strives for yet another Ten Eyck trophy this season.

If McGee can accomplish anything close to this within the first two seasons in Princeton (which is to become the home of the men's senior and under-23 eights once again), then we could be well positioned for Rio. McGee can make use of his existing relationships with college coaches and athletes to build a bridge to the under-23 national team (something that he stressed would be a top priority in our interview), and make for more personal investment on the part of both the coaches and the athletes in the college system by giving each of them a sense of ownership, recognizing hard work and appreciating support. The location in Princeton also means that McGee will have the chance to work in close proximity to Tom Terhaar, who, perhaps better than any other coach in the U.S. at this time, knows how to create a culture of competition and success that is sustainable—simply looking at the long list of athletes who have contributed to the seven-straight seasons of victories in the women's eight is proof enough of that. Finally, McGee was a senior national team member, and making the U.S. system competitive on the world stage will have a strong personal tie for him that might not have been the present had USRowing hired an international coach.

As for Bryan Volpenhein, he has anchored the program in Oklahoma City since 2011, and it appears clear that the financial and social backing of the sport in OKC is not going anywhere anytime soon. USRowing, therefore, must have a training center there, and, given Volpenhein's familiarity with the place, it seems almost natural that he be asked to continue there in a more prominent role following the departure of McLaren. He accomplished a goal of getting the men's lightweight four to the Olympic Games last summer, where they performed well in one of the most competitive fields at the Olympic Regatta. Also, Volpenhein and McGee are former teammates with the U.S. national squad—perhaps this will benefit them in terms of communication and creating a positive working environment.

Okay, so now that we've examined the positives, it's time to turn our eyes to the possible negative outcomes of this move. First, McGee has a great track record with Brown and Washington, but the kind of system he will be dealing with at USRowing is much more complex, and the competition much more fierce. It is going to take some time to adapt—the question is, how much time? Secondly, there is the question of elevating Volpenhein to coach of the bronze medal-winning crew at the 2012 Olympic Games. While I've heard many voices backing Volp's coaching chops (particularly those of his athletes—a good sign, one would think), the trouble is, his coaching resume is very short at this point. This doesn't mean he can't get the job done—he did well to get the lightweight men's four to the Games, as I've already discussed—but it means that the jury is still out regarding future prospects (i.e., nobody really knows). Furthermore, how will selection function, with athletes spread out as they will be across two or three cities (and time zones) in the men's heavyweight sweep group? Will CRC continue to have a central role with the national team post-Speed Order? The most recent communication from USRowing seems to indicate that it will–does this mean involvement from both Bernhard Stomporowski and Mike Teti? Given such complexity, Curtis Jordan's role becomes truly pivotal. Fortunately, he brings a great deal of knowledge and experience, in the U.S. and abroad, to the table.

Can the new-look U.S. system, as yet not clearly defined, take flight before spring and the first wave of international competition?

-Bryan

Monday, November 12, 2012

Video Of The Week: Kicking off the 2012 Head of the River Fours



This week's video comes to us from the Thames, where the 2012 Head of the River Fours took place over the weekend, showcasing some of the top international and club athletes in the UK battling to begin a new quadrennium with a bang. The video shows the first 52 crews coming through the starting queue, led off by Leander Club's elite men's quad, who repeated as champions by just over two seconds ahead of Tideway Scullers in a time of 17:51.0. Oxford and Cambridge also had crews on the water, facing off for the first time, albeit not in match-race style. This time, Oxford's Elite Coxed Four bested bested their rivals, with Oxford's Isis II (a crew that included GB Olympic men's eight stroke Constantine Louloudis, and Canadian Olympic silver medalist Malcolm Howard) placing seventh overall to CUBC's 11th, though Cambridge I (featuring GB Olympic bronze medalist George Nash) crossed the finish just five second back of the Dark Blues.

For complete results from the 2012 Head of the River Fours, please visit the official website of the event, and click here for a breakdown of the Oxford and Cambridge results from the official website of the Boat Race.

-RR

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Aussie Boat Race 2012: Pragnell's Outstanding Challenge



The above video comes to us from Down Under, and is easily among the top contenders for best boat race challenge ever issued. Aussie national teamer Fergus Pragnell lays down the gauntlet in style, and even draws some laughs from the MUBC crews along the way.

This year's Aussie Boat Race continued the trends on both the men's and women's sides, with the men from Sydney winning their third straight title and the women from Melbourne doing the same. More news and info is available on the official website of the Australian Boat Race.

Also, as I'm sure you all know, there was some big news for those of us stateside on Tuesday evening. That's right, USRowing announced that it would be hiring none other than Washington frosh coach Luke McGee to take over the responsibilities of coaching the U.S. men's eight and U23 men's eight, while current lightweight coach Bryan Volpenhein will take on the additional duty of coaching the men's heavyweight four. We've got some opinions on this (as you might have guessed), so watch this space next week for more.

-RR

Monday, November 5, 2012

Video Of The Week: The 2012 Princeton Chase



This week's video comes to us from Princeton pre-Sandy, and covers the 2012 Princeton Chase on Lake Carnegie. With race footage from the men's varsity heavyweight and lightweight eights, as well as the women's varsity eight event, this video is a thorough look at the racing and the atmosphere around the course, with a healthy amount of humor thrown into the mix – let's just say we're impressed with Greg Hughes' repertoire of movie voice impersonations. Hats off to Princeton for another entertaining & informative race video!

Follow this link for complete 2012 Chase results

Want to suggest the next 'Video Of The Week?' Shoot us an email at rowingrelated [at] gmail [dot] com, send us your suggestion via Twitter (twitter.com/rowingrelated), or get in touch via our Facebook or Google+ pages.

-RR

Thursday, November 1, 2012

RR Interview: 2012 Olympian and former Princeton Tiger Gevvie Stone of Cambridge Boat Club

Gevvie Stone in Bled, 2011 (Photo: B. Kitch)
Not only has Gevvie Stone accumulated quite a resume on the water, she’s no slouch in the classroom either. The eight-time (yes, eight-time) winner of the Head Of The Charles capped off an Olympic year that saw her take seventh overall in the women’s single with her third consecutive title in the women’s champ single on the Chuck. Now, she has her sights set on more than just Rio: Stone is a medical student, whose goals for the next Olympic cycle include graduating from her program at Tufts University in 2014. Here, Stone shares a little about her background in the sport, her time at Princeton, her experience in London, and just how she manages to keep climbing the podium on her home course – the bottom line? There's no substitute for experience.

RR: If my research is correct, this year marked the eighth time you've won the Head Of The Charles, including winning the top women's sculling event for three years running. I know it's your home course, but what else is there that helps you to achieve such an amazing level of success on the Charles?

GS: You are indeed correct in your arithmetic. And, as a 27 year old, this was my 27th year attending the regatta! (It was cancelled in 1996.) The regatta is somewhat like Christmas in my family, and I think part of my success at the HOCR is that I love everything about the regatta--the turns and bridges, the time of year, the cheering, the longer distance (v. 2k racing), etc. It's special to have such an event on my home river, where I learned to row and where I train now. Additionally, I have been fortunate to be part of fast, fit crews and to have good coaches and coxswains. All of that helped me to be successful in team boats at the regatta. In the single, I have benefitted from my knowledge of the course, my hometown support from friends and family, my mental preparation for the race, and my endurance (a relative strength of mine).

RR: Last year, you raced to an eleventh place finish in Bled, and, this past summer, continually built upon your results, moving through the Final Qualification Regatta to a seventh place finish in London. How much do you think the international racing experience you had from previous years, as well as the World Cup circuit this year, added to your ability to bring it on race day in Eton Dorney?

GS: The single is a technical and mental boat in addition to requiring strength, power, and fitness. I think that time in general – time both training and racing – helped me to continue to get faster over this last cycle. The miles on the water, hours in the weight room, and experiences on the start line all add up. All that time helped me to get stronger both physically and mentally and, in doing that, helped me to become faster. Also, I keep learning and have tried some new things this year that seemed to work – a winter on the water in San Diego, new oars, etc. As for the international race experiences in particular, they taught me invaluable lessons by exposing my weaknesses and my strengths. They also helped me to be mentally and emotionally prepared for my Olympic final.

RR: While you graduated from Princeton in 2007, you are still, in some ways, a 'student athlete,' as you are pursuing a medical degree at Tufts. How have you managed to build a schedule for yourself that balances such a demanding work schedule with your athletic endeavors? Any advice to junior and collegiate level student-athletes out there?

GS: Haha, I have pretty much made a(n) (unpaid) career out of being a "student-athlete". I got started in high school, and here I am now a "few" years later building on the same concept. I find that the mental and physical challenges balance each other quite well. When I am exhausted from a workout, I can concentrate more easily on the books. When my head feels congested with information, I can relax on the water and release my aggression on the oars. If I focus too much on side of the balance, I find myself over-thinking things. Practicing both allows me a daily chance to step away, reassess, and return re-energized. But it's not always a perfectly easy balance. Sometimes, I wonder why I try to extend myself into both areas. It requires time-management skills, dedication, and a love for both. It's hard and sometimes my social life is what suffers.

RR: While at Princeton, you won an NCAA title in the women's varsity eight. How much influence on your rowing career do you feel your experience at Princeton had, being a key part of one of the most competitive programs in the country? Do you still draw on those years at Princeton in your international racing career?

GS: Princeton Rowing – the team and my coaches (Wendy and Lori) – taught me countless lessons about life and, of course, about rowing. I think most importantly, I learned to be tough. Rowing on a top team with dedicated teammates and coaches who constantly challenged the team made me a fighter. That lesson is something I apply every time I am on the water – whether I'm doing side-by-side pieces or simply doing steady state and racing some unaware high school boat. Another thing I learned that I apply frequently is that my fitness and strength respond well to many shorter, high-intensity workouts. A significant amount of my training plan – especially during erg season – is lifted from workouts we did in college. Oh, one last good one is to continue focusing on technique and not to be lazy while paddling. It really helps to apply technical changes. I could go on, but I don't want to spill any more of Lori's coaching secrets. All the junior girls out there will just have to go to Princeton to find out how much you can learn!

RR: What are you plans for the next Olympic cycle? Are your sights already set on Rio? Given your results at the Charles (another victory in the women's champ single, and a near miss in the women's champ eight with the 'Great Eight' you helped to assemble), it certainly seems that way!

GS: My first goal is to graduate from med school in 2014. Along the way these next two years, I am going to see how much training I can fit in. If all goes well, I would love to continue racing through Rio 2016. I still love rowing, and I'm continuing to get faster; consequently, I don't feel ready to retire.

Thanks very much to Gevvie for taking the time! One further note for RR readers – Gevvie was largely responsible for putting together the women's Great Eight at the HOCR this year (read about it in the November edition of Rowing Magazine), and was one ten second penalty away from becoming a nine-time Charles champ! All best to Gevvie in all her endeavors from everyone here at RowingRelated! 

-RR