Thursday, June 26, 2014

Video Of The Week: Team GB Training in Avis, Portugal



This week's video offers an inside look at the GB men's rowing team during their training camp in Avis, Portugal earlier this year, and while it's certainly not short of scenery and context, what makes this video worthwhile is the amount of very high quality technical rowing—a good reminder of the finer points of the sport in the midst of summer racing season. Speaking of summer racing, the Holland Beker is set to take place this weekend on the Bosbaan in Amsterdam, and there will be a number of familiar faces from World Rowing Cup II on hand, including Julien Bahain—the French Olympian is now racing for Canada (and just placed sixth overall in the men's single in Aiguebelette). Earlier today, Bahain took on Roel Braas over a 200m course at the Aegon City Sprints in Amsterdam, and, from the look of it, Bahain came out on top.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Behind the Scenes with the U.S. Team—Matt Miller: Video Journalist



Not all that long ago, Matt Miller—six seat of the U.S. men's eight—did a series of blog posts for us, while he and his Virginia teammates were taking on all comers in the Temple Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta (where Miller and the Cavaliers reached the semifinals). (Click the links for parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine of that series.) Since then, Matt has done a lot of rowing and sculling at a very high level, and has also upped his rowing journalism game—these two videos (above and below) are parts one and two of an ongoing project documenting his summer of racing with the U.S. national team in Europe. And, from the look of it, they're managing to have at least a little fun.



Some of the highlights include an interview with 2012 Olympian Steve Kasprzyk (Interlocutor: "Would you be willing to answer a few questions for the camera?" Steve: "Well, the honest answer is no, and does that count as one?"); Matt reveals his favorite film; plus more bearded banter from behind the scenes with the squad. All we can say is, we're looking forward to episode three from Amsterdam—Holland Beker is coming up this weekend!

-RR

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Video Of The Week: World Rowing Cup II Takes over Aiguebelette, France



This week's Sunday-edition video comes to us from the idyllic setting for the second World Rowing Cup stop of the 2014 season, Lake Aiguebelette. While it's the picture of natural splendor (and where Jamie Koven won his world title in 1997), it's not the easiest name to pronounce, or spell. Fortunately, Nathaniel Reilly-O'Donnell has you covered.


2014 USRowing Youth Nationals: California Dreaming

Pete Cipollone and Scott Gault distributing the medals (Photo: B. Kitch)
The 2014 USRowing youth national championship regatta showcased the top talent in the junior ranks, and saw race after race of tightly packed fields charging to the line in dramatic fashion. While the entire country was well represented, from sea to shining sea, it was the 'home' teams who most often found their way to the top—in fact, teams from the West Coast took home 11 of 18 available gold medals in Sacramento. Gives a whole new meaning to the nickname 'Gold Country,' wouldn't you say?

Last Sunday's finals began with the women's single, and a great performance from last year's national silver medalist Elizabeth Sharis of Y Quad Cities—a program, headed by her father, Peter Sharis, that proved extremely efficient, much like their West Coast rivals Seattle Rowing Center. Sharis took first by roughly a length over SRC's Simone Framson, with Emily Kallfelz of Narragansett rounding out the podium finishes (the 1-2-3 finish that we predicted). In the men's single, it was Ben Davison of Seattle Rowing Center, who rowed away from the field to victory (pushing out the margin to almost 16 seconds when all was said and done), with Jack Kelley of Jacksonville taking silver—Orange County's Matt Scholl took the bronze.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

USRowing Youth Nationals, 2014: RR Picks and Predictions

The 2014 USRowing Youth National Championships are getting underway in Sacramento, and it just wouldn't be us if we didn't shoot our mouths off about what we think is going to happen this weekend on Lake Natoma. While we can't cover every event this year—given the tremendous talent spread across a host of boat classes—we have a few ideas that we think you might find interesting. Shall we?



Women's Single
Despite the fact that Elizabeth Sharis is doubling up in the women's quad, Sharis—last year's silver medalist behind Cicely Madden (who has switched to sweep this year, racing for CRI in the pair and the eight)—is looking like the favorite to win the single this year, and could wind up on the podium twice. We are looking for Simone Framson of Seattle RC (also doubling up in the quad) to take the silver, with Emily Kallfelz of Narragansett rounding out the podium finishes. The latter two athletes went one-two in yesterday's heats, and had the first and second fastest times of the day in the event. Molly Hart, Megan Slabbert, Sara Clark, and Sallie Bowman should also be in the mix.

Men's Single
This year, Ben Davison—another very strong sculler from Conal Groom's program—is our favorite to win the event ahead of Jack Kelley of Jacksonville, with our pick for bronze going to Norwalk River's Kris Petreski (who came through the rep this morning). All three of the above are in the first of two semifinals set for this afternoon. We're also looking for Newport's Tyler Ashoff and Chris Tinsman of Y Quad Cities (a lightweight with an impressive erg, headed to Dartmouth this fall) to make the final.

Women's Lightweight Eight
The heat winners yesterday were Oakland, Long Beach, and Saugatuck, and this year's battle for the top of the podium looks to be similar—we're expecting it to come down to Oakland and Saugatuck for the gold, with LBJC and CRI duking it out for the final podium spot. Also look for Sarasota to make the final, along with Cincinnati Juniors.

Men's Lightweight Eight
Our pick to win the men's lightweight eight this year is 2014 Southwest Junior Regional champs Marin, but they will face a tough challenge from their California rivals from Newport AC, as well as a very tightly packed field including Belen Jesuit, Oakland, St. Joe's Prep, and Long Beach—given the heat times yesterday it looks like it will be a thrilling set of semis and finals. The semi this afternoon that includes Marin, St. Joe's, Oakland, and Long Beach will likely see a potential podium contender miss the final—an unfortunate draw, to say the least.

Women's Varsity Eight
Defending champions Marin have not had a strong regatta up to this point, but they can recover in the rep this afternoon—and never count out a Sandy Armstrong crew in crunch time. Still, our favorites to win this year are Oakland Strokes, with CRI (a lineup that includes last year's women's single champ Cicely Madden), PNRA/Mercer, Connecticut, and Saugatuck our other A Final probables this weekend (though this will require PNRA/Mercer, Marin, and Saugatuck to come through the reps successfully this afternoon, and put together a good semi tonight).

Men's Varsity Eight
Regional champs Oakland has looked like the class crew so far this spring, and we don't see any reason not to take them to win the title this year. Marin is a tough, battle-hardened group of racers, and will certainly be in the mix, as will Central Catholic, CRI, and Long Beach Junior Crew (who posted the second fastest time of the day yesterday in a walkway heat victory). What we're expecting is a very tightly packed field—more so than in recent years—but for Oakland to have the edge with the lesser medals up for grabs between a number of very solid crews. (We're giving the nod to Marin for the silver given the semifinals, which will pit Oakland, LBJC, Central Catholic, and Green Lake against one another in semi 2.)

A Few Extras
While Elizabeth Sharis is doubling up, we still expect that Y Quad Cities will win the women's quad—the crew is very talented, with sub-7 minute power in the stroke seat (Emily Delleman), as well as Stanford-bound Callie Heiderscheit. We're expecting Pacific to be in the medals in the women's varsity four, duking it out with Deerfield for the top spot in the nation, while the Newport AC men's varsity four looks poised to back up their regional bronze medal with a national title, likely battling Belmont Hill and another Pacific crew for the podium. Mia Croonquist (2011 RoRy winner for Female Junior Athlete of the Year) is racing in the double with Vashon Island—and posted the fastest time in the event yesterday in the heats. Look for Vashon to take the title in the women's double this year.

It's already heating up in Sacramento, and we can't wait to see the 2014 national champions crowned tomorrow! Best of luck to all crews, and we'll be on the scene for the finals—look for a recap and review to come early next week. In the meantime, bring it!

For complete results, schedules, and race information, please visit the official website of USRowing.

-RR

Thursday, June 12, 2014

British Banter Leading the Way on the Rowing Social Interwebs

Andy Triggs Hodge: Good sport (Photo: B. Kitch)

While the international rowing scene is gearing up for the second World Cup stop in Aiguebelette, France, clearly, some rowing federations are keeping it light in the midst of heavy days of training. And, there's no better example of this than the Brits—as usual, leading the way for rowing banter on the internets. Training camp can be grueling, so, every now and then, it's important to have a little fun at the expense of a double Olympic gold medalist. And, much to the chagrin of Andy Triggs Hodge, his teammates have (finally) noticed a certain similarity between Hodge's flowing locks and those of one of Britain's most famous entrepreneurs...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Video Of The Week: Training with the Newport Aquatic Center Men's Rowing Team



This week's video comes to us from Newport Beach, California, where a very competitive NAC men's squad has been logging quality miles in search of that most coveted of hardware at the junior level—a medal at the USRowing Youth National Championships, set for this weekend on Lake Natoma. At Southwest Junior Regionals in the first week of May, NAC showed that they've had an excellent recruiting year, winning the men's novice eight and second novice eight, the novice four, and the frosh eight, while at the varsity level, the NAC men took silver in the lightweight eight, bronze in the varsity four, and gold in the men's single. NAC, along with West Coast powerhouse programs Marin, Oakland Strokes, Los Gatos, and Long Beach Junior Crew will all be in action in Sacramento, and likely in contention for a number of podium appearances.

More to come on junior nationals later this week here on RR—in the meantime, please follow the link for schedules and event information via the official website of USRowing.

Have a submission for 'Video Of The Week?' Shoot us an email at rowingrelated [at] gmail [dot] com, send us your suggestions via Twitter, or get in touch via our Facebook or Google+ pages.

-RR

Thursday, June 5, 2014

NCAA Rowing and IRA National Championships, 2014: Recap and Review

Washington leads the way in the men's varsity eight

Last weekend marked the culmination of a year's worth of work—the showdown between the best of the best to determine the men's and women's national champions—and while there was some reshuffling of the ranks, familiar faces topped the podium once again in 2014. That said, there were some newly crowned champions this year, who greatly deserve recognition. We've had a few days to let it soak in, so now, without further ado, here's our take on the 2014 championship season.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Interview: Daniel Koenig of Power 10 Films on His Adaptive Rowing Documentary

Joshua Langston-White on the dock (Photo: Daniel Koenig)

Filmmaker Daniel Koenig is in the midst of a powerful project on rowing, and he could use a helping hand. Koenig is currently in the process of shooting a documentary on four adaptive rowing athletes who are aiming to make the U.S. national team this summer: Dan Ahr (shown in the video clip below), 2012 Paralympian Andrew Johnson (read his RR interview here), Margaret Stran, and Joshua Langston-White. The film will serve to not only offer insight on the process of training for a national team bid, but also on adaptive rowing as a whole. We checked in with Koenig on the project, his rowing background, how you can donate to this project, and what's next.

RR: What fist inspired this project? Did you have a personal connection to the sport beforehand?

Daniel Koenig: I started rowing in Oklahoma City as a freshman at the University of Oklahoma and currently row with Rio Salado Rowing Club in Tempe, Arizona. I’ve always had a passion for the sport and love the feeling of being out on the water. Rowing is a unique sport in that it can be an intense workout or a calm escape and I wanted to find a way to show others why I have such a strong love for being out on the water. Having a rowing background has actually been very helpful while filming this documentary. In addition to knowing the lingo and what questions are important to a rower, being a rower myself, I have the ability to take a single out alongside the athletes and do interviews on the water while rowing down the Anacostia or Black Warrior River. I think having such close access to the rower will help the viewer connect with each athlete and have a better feel for the sport.



RR: What has been the most significant challenge you’ve faced so far?

DK: The most difficult aspect of shooting this film is probably in the logistics. One thing I love about this documentary is that it features four athletes from four very different locations. Over the span of 8 months I have driven up and down the East coast, from Boston, Massachusetts to Crystal River, Florida, several times in order to show the progression for each athlete throughout the season. Making sure I am aware of each rower's schedule and that I am in the right city at the right time is a constant concern. As this is a documentary, life happens and plans don’t always pan out as expected. You just have to be flexible and adjust as changes occur.

I also find many mornings when the weather is perfect and the water like glass that I just want to put down the camera and go for a row myself. It’s a tough temptation but so far I’ve been able keep the documentary as the higher priority. I guess that’s the downside to taking on a subject you’re passionate about.

RR: From a cinematographer’s perspective, what tips could you offer anyone looking to create a film about rowing?

DK: Rowing is beautiful and nothing quite compares to slicing through water at 6am. When something is that beautiful, it’s hard not to come out with usable footage. But the best ways to insure a quality image is to keep a fast shutter speed so that the motion is crisp, and buy a nice circular polarizer. Because rowing is outside on water, there is a lot of light reflecting around—being able to control how that light is seen will really make the images stand out. Also, not every day is warm and sunny so having the commitment to endure those cold, wet, or even snowy days can be a major test.

RR: How can the rowing community get involved and help?

DK: Through the first week of June we are raising funds to help send us into post production strong. This being an entirely independent film, it has only been through the support of those who believe in our message that we have reached this point into filming. Entering the next stage, we would really appreciate any help so that we can deliver a high quality film that will shine a positive light on our sport. There is an Indiegogo page running until June 6, which will give people the opportunity to join us in showcasing how the sport of rowing is able to make an impact on the lives of four individuals. There are also quite a few perks available to those who donate, including a DVD, advanced screening tickets, and a trip out on the water with myself or one of the featured athletes.

Beyond just this documentary, I think it would be great for the rowing community to continue to add adaptive races to the schedule when planning a regatta. For athletes training to represent their country on the international stage, having sufficient racing experience is important. Currently, there are few regattas including para events to their race schedules. These athletes want the opportunity to race just as much as anyone else and having more options and opportunities to race will only improve their performance.

RR: What impact do you hope that your film will make? Are you finding that even in production, your project is helping to shine a light on adaptive rowing?

DK: There are a few things I hope this film will be able to show. I hope people who see this film will leave understanding the importance of equality for people with disabilities. Just because someone only has one leg or can’t see doesn’t mean he or she has any less desire to be a strong competitor. I hope this documentary will show how rowing has developed a way to be inclusive and will reach someone who is seeking a way to become active despite whatever limitations they perceive they have. I also hope the film will inspire all people, regardless of ability, to get out, be active, and strive to achieve their dreams.

I’ve tried throughout the production phase to update people outside the film with what is happening both on the set and throughout the rest of the adaptive community. Through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we've posted photos of anything from race results to practices as well as sharing some of the positive things being done across the globe which benefit the adaptive community. I think awareness is important in building up a sport like pararowing, and if people can see what others are doing in communities like Boston, DC, Tuscaloosa, and Inverness, they too will see the positive impact a sport like rowing can have on the lives of others.

Here's where you can find Power 10 Films on the web:
Website - www.Power10Films.com
Indiegogo - igg.me/at/rowingdoc
Facebook - Facebook.com/power10films
Twitter - twitter.com/power10films
YouTube - youtube.com/power10films

Thanks very much to Daniel for the interview!

Coming up tomorrow on RR: NCAA and IRAs recap and review—to be the best, you have to beat the best. 

-RR