World Rowing Championships, 2013: Setting the Stage for the New Quadrennium in Chungju

The 2013 World Rowing Championships were, by all accounts, one of the best championships to date, with state-of-the-art facilities, good racing conditions, and a host of talented athletes coming together to officially embark on the Road to Rio.

Before the slew of hotly contested finals, however, we did it again—what can we say? Shooting our mouths off about sports just comes naturally, and what you might call the 'RR ethos' is built on picks and predictions. So, now's the time when we reflect on the best of the racing, and see how our picks fared over the course of the week in South Korea.

Men's Pair
Our PicksResults
Okay, so we picked the winner (that was a tough one), but missed on the lesser medals—France's Germain Chardin and Dorian Mortelette proved that they will continue to be a crew to watch in this event, despite early season woes, having taken silver in London last season. The Dutch crew of Rogier Blink and Mitchel Steenman pushed our bronze medal pick, Spain, into fourth—the result was one of several solid performances for The Netherlands in Chungju.

Women's Pair
Our PicksResults
This was a tough one, as the Romanian pair—with both Roxana Cogianu and Nicoleta Albu doubling up into the eight—toppled our pick for silver, as the U.S. crew of Meghan Musnicki (also doubling up in the eight) and Taylor Goetzinger finished fourth overall. It looks like the GB women's pair, with Helen Glover continuing with new partner Polly Swann, will continue to be the crew to beat (at this point the largest threat to that duo appears to be what might happen if Heather Stanning 2012 gold medalist were to return to the fold).

Men's Four
Our PicksResults
It was a tight race, and while the U.S. crew was uncharacteristically slow off the line, they put themselves right in the mix by the 1000m mark, just back of Australia. However, nobody sprints like the Dutch, and they unleashed a masterful sprint that carried them from fourth at halfway to a gold medal in Chungju. Our pick for third, Italy, placed fourth overall. Some thoughts on the race from U.S. M4- athletes Grant James and Mike Gennaro:

Men's Eight
Our PicksResults
Nailed it. If you look at the way GB Rowing head coach Jürgen Grobler's crews perform at Lucerne World Rowing Cups prior to championships, they always seem to find more speed in the final weeks of training, and come to worlds prepared precisely for that moment. This year's men's eight final was a further example of just that, bouncing back from a fourth-place finish in Lucerne to topple the Olympic champs in Chungju. It was a very solid result for the U.S. crew, which lost one of it's biggest guns in Glenn Ochal, but which battled hard and made Luke McGee's first year with the national team truly one to remember. Here's what some of the guys in the eight thought about it:

Women's Eight
Our PicksResults
Team USA continues to dominate this event, but the results from the Romanian women's team were very strong across the board. The final, however, saw the U.S. crew walk away from the field, winning by a margin of roughly five seconds, with Romania edging Canada by about three quarters of a length for silver. Here are a few thoughts on the racing from the U.S. women's eight:

Men's Single
Our PicksResults
Ondrej SynekOndrej Synek
Aleksandar AleksandrovAngel Fournier-Rodriguez
Mahé DrysdaleMarcel Hacker
Angel Fournier-RodriguezAlan Campbell
Alan CampbellRoel Braas
Luka SpikMindaugas Griskonis 
Again, we picked the winner, but the lesser medals proved more of a challenge, and included some unforeseen difficulties, such as Mahé's unfortunate injury. Cuban sculler Angel-Fournier Rodriguez has been moving up through the ranks for a number of years now, and has now announced his presence at the world level in a big way, while Marcel Hacker proved that he very much still has what it takes to compete at the highest level—it will be interesting to see how this field develops over the next three seasons. Dutch sculler Roel Braas also made good on a solid early season, which included a win at Holland Beker in June. 

Women's Single
Our PicksResults
Kim CrowKim Crow
Mirka KnapkovaEmma Twigg
Elle LoganMirka Knapkova
Emma TwiggMagdalena Lobnig
Julia LevinaElle Logan
Magdalena LobnigInge Janssen
Kim Crow rowed one of the most impressive finals of the regatta, taking her first world title in the single and looking good doing it. Defending Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova was right in the mix, and landed on the podium once again, but not before Emma Twigg could claim the silver. Team USA's Elle Logan did an outstanding job to reach the final in such a talented field, taking fifth at worlds in her first-ever appearance in the single. 

Men's Double
Our PicksResults
This was a coming out party for the Norwegian double of Kjetil Borch and Nils Jakob Hoff, who led form wire to wire, realizing the promise that they showed in last year's World Rowing Cup season, and following a seventh place finish in London. Rather unexpectedly, the Kiwi double, who were World Cup champions, found themselves at the back of the pack in the final. 

Women's Double 
Our PicksResults
Right boats, wrong order. The Lithuanian duo of Donata Vistartaite and Milda Valciukaite were very, very impressive—a newly formed combination that may be the crew to beat this quadrennium. Also, as we expected, the incredible Ekaterina Karsten found herself on yet another worlds podium, this time collecting bronze with Yuliya Bichyk, who was roughly seven years old when Karsten won her first world title (the JW1x in 1990).

Men's Quad
Our PicksResults
Olympic champion Germany couldn't quite hold on to the top of the podium in 2013, as the Croatian crew got off to a great start in the final and never looked back. Our pick for bronze, Estonia, faded slightly, and Great Britain moved up onto the podium after a fourth-place finish in Lucerne. 

Women's Quad
Our PicksResults
This was a fantastic result for the Canadian crew, which stepped up from a ninth-place result in Lucerne to claim the silver in Chungju (albeit with a new-look crew, including Emily Cameron and 2013 U23 silver medalist in the women's single, Carling Zeeman). 

Lightweight Men's Four
Our PicksResults
Bang on. Gotta admit, we were pretty chuffed with this one (typically such a difficult event to pick), but the Danes came in hungry and showed their class in the final, winning by what was, in lightweight terms, a huge margin of 1.6 seconds. It's going to be interesting watching these three crews continue to battle over the course of the quadrennium, and it'll also be of interest to the folks back home to see how far the U.S. LM4- can continue to move up the ranks, after their stellar fifth-place finish in Chungju. 

Lightweight Men's Double
Our PicksResults
Our top pick, the Chambers brothers of Team GB, missed gold by roughly two seconds, with the Norwegians showed that their European Championship silver was no fluke. Our pick for bronze, Mario Gyr and Simon Schuerch of Switzerland, moved up a place—the Swiss lightweight squad has been very strong over the past several seasons, with their LM4- taking fifth in London (a crew that included both Gyr and Schuerch, with the other half of that combination taking gold in the LM2- in Chungju). Italy, our pick for silver, finished fourth. 

Lightweight Women's Double
Our PicksResults
While the Kiwis didn't quite have the regatta that they might have hoped for, this was a great step for the new-look duo of Kristin Hedstrom and Kate Bertko. Italy, however, were the form crew—Elisabetta Sancassani and Laura Milani haven't lost a race at the international level since coming together at the 2012 European Championships in Varese. Perhaps there's another dominant duo on the rise in rowing?

And so, the sun has risen over the beginning of a new quadrennium. Who'll emerge as the dominant force in international rowing on the road to Rio? How many new stars will light up the rowing world along the way? We can hardly wait to find out. 

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