Friday, February 21, 2014

Hammer Time: The 2014 Crash-B Sprints World Indoor Rowing Championships

If you were in Boston over the weekend, you enjoyed quite a show. The 2014 Crash-B Sprints featured one of the deepest men's open fields in recent memory in terms of raw power, and there were equally impressive performances on the women's side.

To say that Crash-B Sprints men's open champion Andrew Stewart-Jones of Canada had an outstanding trip to Boston would be an understatement. Stewart-Jones took the overall title in the men's open by a margin of over three seconds, and recorded the fastest time (5:47.7) at Crash-Bs since the 2007 'ergatta,' when U.S. rowers Mark Flickinger and two-time Olympic medalist Wyatt Allen went 5:46.6 and 5:47.5, respectively, taking the top two tiers on the podium.


 Stewart-Jones is a tremendous athlete, with a 6'8" wingspan despite standing 6'4" tall, and has experience as a cross-country skier as well—he was discovered by Canada's Row To Podium talent identification and development program, and clearly, he's already making a name for himself north of the border. Coming in second overall was Russian national team rower Semen Yaganov, who, along with teammates Pavel Sorin (bronze in the U23 category in Boston, sixth overall), Maxim Babadganov, Evgeniy Kasirin, and coach Anushavan Gassan-Djalalov, has been training out of River City Rowing Club since December, 2013. Yaganov crossed the finish in 5:51.1—and, for the first time in some years, the next eight rowers all finished in under six minutes (with two athletes tying for ninth overall in 5:59.7). Kyle Peabody of B.U. took third overall, winning the U23 event in a time of 5:52.2—a score that would have won the open title in many years. A deep field in Boston, and one that also boasted excellent top-end speed—sounds like a mixture for success in our sport.

In the women's open, Gonzaga's Maddie Turbes had a race that was perhaps equally impressive for the amount of upside it revealed as for her raw time. Turbes—who naturally has the nickname 'Turbo' in Spokane (at least, if the Zags' Twitter feed is any indication)—is in just her second year rowing, and is continuing to improve by leaps and bounds with each piece. While she spent much of the race in Boston in the 1:42-1:43 range and in third place, her final 300 meters featured splits as low as 1:32—if you'll forgive the pun, she dropped one hell of a hammer en route to picking up two at Agganis Arena, winning both the overall and the U23 events. Dutch international Jose van Veen took second in 6:43.2, down 0.6 from her Dutch Indoor Championships-winning time of 6:43.8 in December, while former U23 national teamer Katherine Ashton of Navy took third in 6:47 flat.

The men's lightweight event was dominated by Austrian national team member Florian Berg, who won by a margin of roughly nine seconds in a time of 6:06.8, ahead of a very promising sophomore at Cornell, Will Oprea (formerly of Chaminade), who posted a time of 6:15.9. In third was Yale Bulldog Brendan Harrington in 6:18.1, with Columbia's Fredrik Aasaaren (originally from Oslo, Norway) taking fourth and rounding out the collegiate podium in 6:18.3. The lightweight women's race Erin Roberts bettered her 2013 Crash-B Sprints-winning score of 7:08.5 by nearly 10 seconds, breaking the seven-minute mark and posting a blistering 6:59.4 (and less than five seconds off the world record set by Ursula Grobler in 2010).

At the junior level, Seattle Rowing Center's Ben Davison took third overall in 6:09.2, just over three seconds back of winner Jordi Jofre Senciales of Spain, and Sky Leland, who has come a long way since first racing at Crash-Bs in 2011(placing 113th). As for the junior women, Dana Moffat turned in a tremendous performance, representing Fayetteville-Manlius H.S. Crew, and taking down two very talented German junior development athletes in the process, in a time of 6:49 flat. The victory was the second in as many years for Moffat.

Last, but most certainly not least, we celebrate Paul Randall, who is 96 and still kicking ass—Randall took home the hammer in the 95-99 veteran men's lightweight event, in a time of 11:47—giving each and all of us further reason to keep reaching for that hammer!

Coming up next on RR: Fast Times at the 2014 New Zealand Rowing Championships

-RR

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