|Close racing at the first World Rowing Cup (Photo courtesy of FISA/quattro media)|
While the fields on both the men's and women's sides were without some of the heavy hitters (as is often the case at the first world cup of the season), the racing was top-notch, and saw some familiar faces doing unfamiliar things (really well) on the historic course. Germany and China were the big winners in the absence of heavy-hitting programs from Great Britain and New Zealand, and while we're used to seeing Marcel Hacker in the mix for the medals in the single, his first go around with double partner Stephan Krueger proved nothing short of golden. Hacker and Krueger finished roughly four seconds ahead of second-place Serbia, a crew made up of Aleksandar Filipovic and former Cal Bear Marko Marjanovic, and it could be a very interesting combination going forward for Germany, though it seems doubtful that anyone will be able to catch the Sinkovic Brothers (see this video for a look at their recent Pisa training camp), should they be able to stay healthy (they missed World Cup I due to a rib injury to Valent, as he explains in this Instagram post).
Also of interest was the tightly packed field in the men's lightweight double, which saw all six crews finish within four seconds, with less than 0.2 seconds separating third through fifth place. (You can watch the race video here.) Here are more details from FISA:
Press Release: Rowing season off to a fast start
For immediate release
Bled, 10 May 2015
The 2015 rowing season has started with World Rowing Cup I in Bled, Slovenia.
Tight racing resulted in the World Cup regatta points trophy being shared equally between China and Germany. Germany won four gold medals. These came in the blue riband men's eight race as well as the men's double sculls and men's and women's quadruple sculls. The men's double sculls saw former single sculling champion Marcel Hacker team up successfully with Stephan Krueger to create a potentially winning new 2015 combination.
Scoring the most number of medals overall was China. The Chinese came to Bled with a large team and they won gold in both the lightweight women's double sculls and the lightweight men's pair. China won silver and bronze in the women's pair after getting five of their six entered crews through to the final. But it was the Dutch pair of Olivia van Rooijen and Elisabeth Hogerwerf who earned the gold. China also took silver and bronze in the lightweight men's four.
Belarus won two gold medals, one by 42-year-old Ekaterina Karsten in the women's single sculls. The six-time Olympian Karsten was a last minute entry in the single after her doubles partner had to withdraw due to injury. Belarus was also successful with gold in the men's four.
As well as the women's pair, the Netherlands won a second gold medal in the lightweight men's double sculls. Brothers Tycho and Vincent Muda kept the lead in a close race to the line which saw the silver and bronze medals decided by less than a second.
Poland picked up six medals overall to finish third on the points table. Poland's medals included gold in the women's double sculls following an impressive performance by Magdalena Fularczyk and Natalia Madaj.
Overall 20 nations earned World Cup points.
The World Rowing Cup series now moves to Varese, Italy from 18-21 June 2015 for World Rowing Cup II. Before that, European nations will be competing in the European Rowing Championships in Poznan, Poland from 29-31 May 2015.
The World Rowing Cup series was launched in 1997 and consists of a series of three events. The overall World Rowing Cup winners are determined after the third event. This year, the three stages of the series are Bled, Slovenia (9-10 May), Varese, Italy (18-21 June) and Lucerne, Switzerland (10-12 July).
Results, race reports, photos and videos are available on www.worldrowing.com.