Thursday, August 29, 2013

Martin Cross, The Blogging Oarsman, Breaks Down Day Five in Chungju



The further we get into the 2013 World Rowing Championships, the more it feels like there is already a 'great wave' (with apologies to Katsushika Hokusai, of course) of momentum building on the road to Rio. The racing has been, in a word, outstanding. In the video above, GB commentator Martin Cross breaks down Day Five at worlds, which featured several crackers, including the A/B semis for the the men's lightweight single and the men's four. As Cross mentioned in his race commentary (catch up on the semis here), the men's four event appears to be wide open, with our top picks the U.S., Australia, and Italy looking very solid, as well as a sprinting Dutch crew and a surprising British boat that has bounced back from a B Final performance in Lucerne to crack the A final in Chungju. (While Cross mentioned that he'll have his eye on Italy to top the podium, we're backing our top pick, USA, to take the title.) The race of the day, however, may well have been the first of the two A/B semis for the lightweight men's single, which pit Danish phenom Henrik Stephansen against Jérémie Azou of France in an all-out race for the line (and likely a preview of the battle for gold in that event come finals time). If you haven't seen it yet, it's well worth a look.

So far, our picks and predictions are in good shape, with the exception of defending Olympic champion Mahé Drysdale having to withdraw due to a rib injury—very unfortunate, but Drysdale further confirmed that he is a class-act earlier, apologizing to his competitors for not being able to race in his C/D semifinal. All best to Mahé for a speedy recovery, and here's to more fantastic racing in South Korea, as soon as the weather clears up!

-RR

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tuesday Edition Double-Feature Video Of The Week: Rowing the World



This week's video is the official teaser for the 2013 World Rowing Championships in Chungju, South Korea, and features the theme song for the event, "Rowing the World," (or at least, we think that's the title). It's always fascinating to take a look at a familiar subject through the lens of a different culture, and that's just what you'll get from this video (in addition to a look at the racecourse and environs, with a bit of rowing thrown into the mix).



Also on the docket for this week is Team USA men's single sculler Stephen Whelpley's short video of the trip from the hotel to the course—it's a beautiful landscape, and gives you a better sense for what it's like to be on the ground in Chungju. The racing is heating up, and our picks and predictions are already being put to the test! So far, the U.S. women's quad of Megan Kalmoe, Kara Kohler, Susan Francia, and Esther Lofgren have given themselves a second chance at the podium via the reps, the British men's eight has looked every bit as good as we thought they might coming into Chungju, and Marcel Hacker (always a bit of a wild card) has shown early on that this may be another year to keep a close eye on him as the quarterfinals and finals approach! Also in action is RR interviewee Andrew Johnson, who took fourth in his race for lanes with the U.S. LTAMix4+ crew.

For complete info, results, live commentary, and a race tracker, please visit the official website of FISA.

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

Saturday, August 24, 2013

World Rowing Championships 2013: RR Picks and Predictions

The 2013 World Rowing Championships are underway in Chungju, South Korea, and it just wouldn't be right if we didn't throw our hats in the ring for some picks and predictions for the finals. While some post-Olympic regattas have been low on entries at the international level, this year's worlds feature more nations than ever, and there are a number of events where rivalries are already emerging on the road to Rio. And so, without further ado, here are the results of our glimpse into the crystal ball, hidden deep within the confines of the RR International Research Department.

Men's Pair
The Kiwis own this event, and, as pointed out by World Rowing's preview article on the upcoming championships, they are set to break yet another record—that being for the longest streak of consecutive wins at the international level. It's an event that other rowing federations have deemed low priority (in a number of cases), which has everything to do with Hamish Bond and Eric Murray being utterly dominant, and we don't see anything changing in Chungju. Another crew we're keen on is Shaun Keeling and Lawrence Brittain (2011 U23 silver medalist in the men's pair) of South Africa—the duo showed promise in Lucerne, and though it's a young crew, Keeling brings a great deal of experience to the table, having raced with three-time Olympian Ramon DiClemente from 2008-2010 (including a fifth-place finish in Beijing). Italy's Marco Di Costanzo and Matteo Castaldo, and Spain's Alexander Sigurbjonsson Benet and Pau Vela Maggi will be looking for repeat podium performances from Lucerne, however, so the battle for the lesser medals may be an intense one—it's also important to keep an eye on the Olympic silver medalists from France.

Podium Picks:
NZL
ITA
ESP

Women's Pair
Much like the last Olympic cycle, this looks to be a battle between New Zealand and Great Britain. Both 2012 Olympians have new pair partners, and both have already produced impressive results, with GB's Helen Glover and Polly Swann entering the competition with an undefeated season on the line, and Rebecca Scown and Kayla Pratt New Zealand looking to lay spoiler (having taken second in Lucerne). Also fighting for the medals will be USA's Meghan Musnicki and (Cornell alum) Taylor Goetzinger—it's never safe to count out a U.S. women's sweep boat at the world level, and there is a great combination of youth and experience in this crew.

Podium Picks:
GBR
USA
NZL

Men's Four
The Australian men's four will be looking to bounce back from a defeat in Lucerne, which saw the new-look U.S. crew of Mike Gennaro, Henrik Rummel, Seth Weil, and Grant James take a wire-to-wire victory over the field. This time, we're anticipating another battle between these two crews, with Italy once again chasing, and the U.S. defending their early season success. Also of interest will be The Netherlands and Canada—both crews are likely to be knocking on the door, and Canada's crew features four outstanding (former Pac-12) oarsmen, including three 2012 Olympic silver medalists from the men's eight, in Conlin McCabe, Rob Gibson, and Will Crothers.

Podium Picks:
USA
AUS
ITA

Men's Eight
Here, we're looking for a return to form for a GB crew that had what we're sure they would describe as a lackluster performance in Lucerne—never underestimate Jurgen Grobler. While the U.S. came out with guns blazing at the final World Rowing Cup, edging as-yet undefeated Germany for the top of the podium, the U.S. crew has lost one of their top oarsmen in Glenn Ochal, who is currently taking some personal time away from the national team (though rowing the single out at Marina Del Rey in Los Angeles and with plans to return). Still, we're anticipating another podium performance from Team USA, just behind the top German crew (much as it pains us to agree with Daniel Spring!).

Podium Picks:
GBR
GER
USA

Women's Eight
Team USA has had a stranglehold on this event for the last seven years, and, despite a setback in the first World Rowing Cup of the 2013 season, the Americans once again set the gold standard for speed in the big boat in Lucerne. However, it will be interesting to see how the crew reacts to a late substitution after their stroke seat, Heidi Robbins, had to be pulled due to a back injury (Meghan Musnicki will be slotted into the eight as Robbins' replacement, with Caroline Lind moving to stroke). As usual, we're expecting Canada to be the main challenger for the United States in this event, with a crew that features Natalie Mastracci, Sarah Black, Cristy Nurse, and Christine Roper (these four women are also doubling up in the women's four). Romania is our pick to round out the medals in this event.

Podium Picks:
USA
CAN
ROU

Men's Single
This is going to be another interesting event—so far this season, the reigning Olympic champion, Mahé Drysdale, has been working to get back into rowing shape after taking some time away from the sport following London. To date, the hot favorite in 2013 has been Ondrej Synek, and we see that trend continuing in Chungju. Also knocking on the door is likely to be Aleksandar Aleksandrov, who is coming off a win at Henley Royal Regatta. Angel Fournier-Rodriguez of Cuba has been coming on strong for a number of years now, and most recently took third in Lucerne—he may just wind up on the podium at worlds this year.

A Final Probables:
Ondrej Synek
Aleksandar Aleksandrov
Mahé Drysdale
Angel Fournier-Rodriguez
Alan Campbell
Luka Spik

Women's Single
The women's single is likely to be a heated battle for the medals between Australia's Kim Crow (our pick to win), defending Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova, and Eleanor Logan of Team USA. Crow was the only athlete in rowing to win two Olympic medals last year, and may be the best athlete in the field, though Knapkova's experience will be a tremendous factor in what looks to be close racing for the gold. Also, while Elle Logan is relatively new to the single, she's hardly unused to the grand stage, having won back-to-back Olympic gold medals in the women's eight.

A Final Probables:
Kim Crow
Mirka Knapkova
Elle Logan
Emma Twigg
Frida Svensson [withdrew due to illness]
Donata Vistartaite [withdrew to concentrate on the W2x]
Julia Levina
Magdalena Lobnig/Inge Janssen

Men's Double
New Zealand's crew Robert Manson and Michael Arms have been a dynamic duo thus far in 2013, and given their training partners (the Kiwi M2-), we're looking for another strong performance on the biggest stage. The most experienced crew in the event is the German lineup of Eric Knittel and Stephan Krueger, but their results have been all over the map to date, and we're feeling it a little risky to pick them for the podium in Chungju (though likely to make the final). Italy's Francesco Fossi and Romano Battisti will be among the top challengers for the Kiwis (as they were in Lucerne). Rounding out the podium, we're looking for Lithuania's Rolandas Mascincas and Saulius Ritter to move up a spot from their fourth-place finish at the final World Rowing Cup.

Podium Picks:
NZL
ITA
LTU

Women's Double
While many are looking for the Lithuanian duo of Donata Vistartaite and Milda Valciukaite to crack the podium at worlds this year, we're concerned about Vistartaite doubling up in the women's single affecting their chances for double hardware [update: no longer doubling up, concentrating on this event—therefore likely to be in the mix for the medals]. The Kiwis have been the form crew thus far, and again, given the dominance of the All Blacks in small boats, we're looking for that to continue in Chungju. Also, while so far the Belarusian double featuring perennial contender in the women's single, Ekaterina Karsten, has not managed to find podium speed, we feel that they'll be on top form in South Korea, and may even challenge for the gold.

Podium Picks:
NZL
BLR
GBR LTU

Men's Quad
This event has been a battle for supremacy between the Germans and the Croatians so far this year, and while the racing has been tight, the we're looking for the Germans to defend their Olympic title this season at the world level. Also looking to be one of the form crews is Estonia, with Great Britain and Switzerland also likely making the A Final in Chungju.

Podium Picks:
GER
CRO
EST

Women's Quad
Like the men's event, Germany looks to be the top contender in the women's quad, and are coming off a dominant performance in Lucerne. In fact, while we hate to be boring, we have to say that given the data, we're looking for a repeat performance from World Rowing Cup III, with the same three rowing federations hoisting flags on the podium in South Korea.

Podium Picks:
GER
POL
AUS

Lightweight Men's Four
The lightweight men's four is always a close event, but we think that the new-look Kiwi crew, featuring 2012 bronze medalist in the LM2x Peter Taylor, is certainly a 'crew to watch' in the event. However, our top pick is Denmark, a crew with three returning 2012 Olympians that finished a close second in Lucerne, tracking the Kiwis all the way down the course, but unable to find that extra gear to pull even. Look for another tight contest in South Korea between these crews, this time with Denmark coming out on top, with Great Britain's crew (featuring 2012 silver medalist in this event, Chris Bartley) rounding out the podium.

Podium Picks
DEN
NZL
GBR

Lightweight Men's Double
Great Britain looks like the form crew in this event, with the Chambers brothers having jumped out of the silver medal-winning lightweight men's four from London and into the double this season. So far, the duo have been very impressive, though they'll have very stiff competition from Italy in the final. We're looking for Switzerland's duo of Mario Gyr and Simon Schuerch to take the bronze, having also made the transition from the sweep crew (fifth in London) to sculling, with solid results so far. We'll be keeping a close eye on the U.S. entry of Austin Meyer and Nick Trojan as well, which could crack the final.

Podium Picks:
GBR
ITA
SUI

Lightweight Women's Double
This is likely to be a battle for gold between Italy (the winners from Lucerne) and New Zealand, and this time we're looking for Lucy Strack and Julia Edward to take the top spot on the podium (though Italy looked dominant in their heat, and appear to be on the same form as at World Rowing Cup III). We're also confident that the U.S. crew of Kristin Hedstrom and Kate Bertko will bring home more hardware at the world level, though it will be a tight final (surprise, surprise), with Great Britain's Kathryn Twyman and Imogen Walsh battling for a podium finish.

Podium Picks:
NZL
ITA
USA

As we like to say, better late than never—we'll be keen to see how the picks turn out, and the finals already drawing ever closer!

-RR

[Updated 25 August, 18:45 PDT]

Worlds Banter: "Bugging Out" in Chungju

While we're finalizing our world championship picks and predictions for this year's event in South Korea, we thought it only right to put together the best of the Twitter insect photos from frightened (okay, well, perhaps surprised is a better word) international athletes and coaches around the course. As you can see, there are some intimidating critters out there!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday Edition Video Of The Week: Potomac Boat Club Wins Gold at Masters Nationals



The 2013 USRowing Masters National Championships took over Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, Florida over the weekend, and Potomac Boat Club had a number of competitive entries at the event—not least of which was their Men's Masters A crew (shown above) that also enjoyed a narrow victory (by 0.06 seconds) at Crew Classic earlier this season. Potomac finished second in overall team points in Florida (behind Saugatuck Rowing Club), at an event that featured an appearance from the governor, as well as the one and only Dickie V (you can check out his masters nationals speech here—though if you're hoping to hear him say, "diaper dandy," you'll be disappointed). For complete results and a full write-up of the event, visit the official website of USRowing.

Much more to come this week, including our picks and predictions for the 2013 World Rowing Championships in Chungju!

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

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Incredible Numbers, List of Names on the Water in Boston in Honor of Harry Parker



Saturday morning marked the Harry Parker Memorial Row in Boston, with crews from the 1960s on through to the 2000s, and names like 1968 Olympian Charlie Hamlin, the 'Rude and Smooth' crews of the 1970s (for some footage of this group at Red Top in 1971, see this video), the legendary Tiff Wood, further Olympians Adam Holland, Chris Swan, and Peter Sharis (whose daughter, Elizabeth, has been making quite a name for herself in the junior rowing ranks over the last few years, including back-to-back silver medal finishes at youth nationals in the JW1x), double Olympian Pat Todd, 2005 world champion Michael Blomquist, double Olympic medalist Malcolm Howard, and many, many others worthy of mention.

Tsiavou Golden, Gkountoulas Brothers Take Silver in Sweden at World Rowing Coastal Championships



While we're gearing up for the World Rowing Championships in Chungju, the World Rowing Coastal Championships are in full swing in Helsingborg, Sweden, and there are a number of familiar faces in action representing the Greek Rowing Federation. In the first of the medal rounds, the dynamic duo of 2008 and 2012 Olympians Apostolos and Nikolaos Gkountoulas (shown training in Helsingborg in the above video) have taken a silver medal racing in the men's double, while teammate (winner of the prestigious RoRy for 2011 Female Athlete of the Year, and 2012 bronze medalist in the LW2x) Alexandra Tsiavou qualified directly for the final of the CW1x after placing fourth in her heat yesterday. (The video below shows her in the final strokes of her heat before the sprint up the beach to the finish.)



But Tsiavou didn't stop there—she backed up her solid result in the heat with a gold medal in today's final, ahead of France's Stephanie Chantry, and Oisin Forde of Spain. The medal for Tsiavou further adds to her already incredible international career. In addition to her bronze medal in London, Tsiavou won the 2012 world title in the LW1x, took silver at the European Championships in Varese with double partner Christina Giazitzidou, and collected gold and bronze in two World Cups on the way to the Olympics—and that's just in 2012. In fact, to find the last time that Tsiavou entered an international race and did not wind up on the podium, you have to go back to the Olympic Final in Beijing, when she and then partner Chrysi Bizkitzi placed sixth overall. Evidently, despite austerity measures taken by the Greek government for summer athletics late last year, the Greek Rowing Federation is still making the most of their potential.

-RR

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Countdown to the World Rowing Championships in Chungju, South Korea



The above video provides a glimpse of what the international rowing federations arriving in South Korea can expect at the 2013 World Rowing Championships in Chungju—and let us be the first to say that it looks nothing short of awesome. From the course itself, to the facilities, to the cultural event status that worlds will have this year thanks to the host nation, the first major championship of the Rio quadrennium is looking like it'll be one to remember.

The athletes are arriving on the scene, as we are now within ten days of competition. For those crews and coaches traveling from the U.S. and Europe, it's quite a long haul:

But the location of this year's championships (only the second time that the event has been held in Asia—the first time was also the first world championship of a new quadrennium, in Gifu, Japan in 2005) hasn't stopped a record number of countries from entering the fray—as outlined on the FISA website, no less than 73 nations will be represented on the water in Chungju, which surpasses the previous record of 68, set in Bled, Slovenia in 2011.

The entires have been released, and, as usual, we'll be shooting our mouths off once again, with a set of picks and predictions for this year's regatta. In the meantime, keep an eye on our social media outlets for rowing news and banter from worlds, and you can tide yourselves over listening to this interview by friend of RR, Rowing Illustrated's Sean Wolf, with U.S. LM2x athletes Nick Trojan and Austin Meyer. Keep it locked!

-RR

Monday, August 12, 2013

Double-Feature Video Of The Week: From Junior to Senior Worlds



The Australian JM4x of Robert Black, Thomas Schramko, Alexander Purnell, and Robin Molen-Grigull, featured in this week's video, placed 11th overall in Trakai, Lithuania over the weekend. The 2013 World Junior Rowing Championships were a remarkable exhibition of developing talent, perhaps hinting at the way the rest of the quadrennium will take shape, with some of the most powerful rowing federations in the world showcasing their depth and consistency across all levels and disciplines in our sport. Germany were the big winners, taking gold in the men's quad, gold in the men's pair, gold in the men's double, and (very dramatically) gold in the men's eight.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

U.S. Senior Trials in the Books, Junior Worlds in Full Swing



U.S. Senior Trials wrapped up yesterday, with eleven crews earning berths for the 2013 World Rowing Championships in Chungju, South Korea. Among those crews was a new-look duo of Craftsbury's John Graves (check out his RR interview following his 2013 NSR I victory here) and Ben Dann, shown in the video above during a training session in Vermont. Graves and Dann edged Potomac's Willy Cowles and another RR interviewee, UVa alum Matt Miller, by roughly three seconds to earn the trip. The result was one of two victories for Craftsbury's young Green Racing Project—a live-in training program hosted at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center with the dual goal of developing athletes for international level rowing and Nordic skiing (read more about the GRP, with input from Graves, head coach Dan Roock, and Judy Geer, in my feature in the upcoming issue of ROWING Magazine)—as Stephen Whelpley also punched his ticket to Chungju, winning the men's single. For a complete look at the results from Trials, read the write-up on the official website of USRowing.

In the meantime, the racing has been heating up in Trakai, Lithuania at the 2013 World Rowing Junior Championships. So far, the big boats from the U.S. have posted solid results, with the women's eight qualifying directly for the final and a showdown with Romania, and the men's crew taking a close third (behind Germany and Great Britain) to move on directly to the semis (more on those races on the FISA website).

Keep tabs on all the action in Lithuania via the FISA live race tracker and results feed, with much more racing to come and a host of hardware on the line through Sunday, 11 August. Also, keep an eye on our Twitter feed for updates and results as they happen at the 2013 Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, with a recap on the way next week.

-RR

Monday, August 5, 2013

Video Of The Week: Learning with Legends



Every now and then, hours of scouring the interwebs for the finest rowing footage turn up a vintage gem, and this week's video is just that. This technique video focuses on small boats, both rowing and sculling, and is a 'sweeping' look at the pantheon of 20th century international rowing, with names like Pertti Karppinen, Peter-Michael Kolbe (watch these two battle it out in the M1x all the way to the line at the 1984 Olympics here), Vasily Yakusha, Thomas Lange, and Carmine and Giuseppe Abbagnale all in the mix in slow-motion race footage. The video quality suffers at times, having been transferred from VHS, but bear with it—it's well worth a prolonged look. Another interesting note to take away is the blend of carbon fiber and wooden oars at the international level—a period of intense transition for our sport and a time when the aforementioned giants were pushing themselves, and the sport itself, to new heights.

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