row2k Features
1984 Olympic gold medal women’s 8 reunion row
July 21, 2004
George Pocock Rowing Foundation

1984 women's eight

SEATTLE, July 15, 2004 - Led by four Northwest rowers, the only women's crew in U.S. history to win an Olympic gold medal will gather at 9:45 a.m. Sunday, July 18 for a ceremonial row through the Montlake Cut and public reception at Seattle's Pocock Rowing Center ( to commemorate their victory at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

The gold medal performance by the U.S. women's eight avoided a sweep by the Romanians on the first day of the Olympic rowing finals at the 1984 Games. It was one of two golds and eight rowing medals that were won by U.S. crews in Los Angeles.

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of their victory, the U.S. crew of former UW coxswain Betsy Beard Stillings (Washington) of Seattle, (stroke) Kathy Keeler (Wesleyan Univ.), (7) Kris Thorsness (Wisconsin) a native of Anchorage, Alaska, (6) Kristi Norelius (Washington State / Washington) a native of Bellevue, Wash., (5) Jeanne Flannigan (Florida Tech), (4) Carie Graves (Wisconsin), (3 ) Carol Bower (Pennsylvania), (2) Holy Metcalf (Mount Holyoke College) and (bow) Shyril O'Steen (Washington) of Seattle, will row through Seattle's Montlake Cut at approximately 9:45 Sunday morning in Jane's Friendship, the shell they rowed at the Los Angeles Games. The crew will arrive at Seattle's Pocock Rowing Center at 10 a.m. where the public is invited to join the reunion. Coach Bob Ernst will follow in his coaching launch.

On Saturday, August 4, 1984 at the Olympic Rowing course on Lake Casitas, Calif., with the Romanians having won five of six events on the first day of rowing finals, the United States women's eight-oared crew came from behind in the final race of the day to defeat the Romanians by a second and avoid the sweep. It was the first ever gold medal for a U.S. women's crew in Olympic rowing history, and to this day the only gold won by a U.S. women's crew at the Olympics.

Skippered by former UW coxswain Betsy Beard Stillings, the U.S. eight rowed to victory on the 1,000 meter (the women's Olympic rowing distance of that era) Lake Casitas course in 2:59.80. Romania was second in 3:00.87 followed by the Netherlands in 3:02.92. Canada, Great Britain, and West Germany rounded out the field. Four-oar, Carie Graves of the U.S. eight, who gave up her job as the coach of the Harvard women's crew to prepare for the Games said, "The moment of victory was worth the sacrifice. It was a moment that you want to last, and last, and last."

In pre-Olympic competition at the Luzern Internationale Ruder Regatta, in the first of two days of racing, the U.S. defeated East Germany, Canada, Bulgaria, Great Britain, and West Germany with a world record 1,000 meter time of 2:54.05. The next day the U.S. won again, defeating East Germany, Romania, Canada, Bulgaria and Great Britain. This time covering the 1,000 meter distance in 2:55.00.

In 1984 the U.S. crew spent the early winter on Seattle's Montlake Cut preparing for the Olympic Games under then University of Washington women's rowing coach, Bob Ernst. Their bright yellow Empacher shell, Jane's Friendship, was originally named Friendship. The name was modified in memory of former UW and U.S. National Team rower, Jane MacDougall of Seattle who died unexpectedly shortly after the 1984 Olympic Games.

1984 U.S. Olympic Gold Medal Women's Eight-Oared Crew

name/age/hometown/current residence/college/Olympic and National Teams

Coxswain: Betsy Beard Stillings/42/Baltimore, MD/Seattle, WA/Washington College BS, Univ of Washington BS Pharmacy 1984/ US Junior Team 1979, US Lightweight Team 1982, US National Team 1985-1987, US Olympic Team 1984 and 1988

Stroke-oar: Kathy Keeler/47/Chevy Chase, MD/Winchester, MA/Wesleyan Univ./US National Team 1982-83, US Olympic Team 1980 and 1984, as a coach she was also on the US National Team in 1987, 89, 91, 93, 94, 95. US Olympic Team coach in 1996.

Seven-oar: Kris Thorsness/44/Anchorage, Alaska/Canandaigua, NY/Univ of Wisconsin-Madison/US National Team 1982-1983, 1985-1987, US Olympic Team 1984 and 1988

Six-oar: Kristine Norelius/47/Bellevue, WA/Olympia, WA/Washington State and Univ. of Washington/US National Team 1981-1983, US Olympic Team 1980 and 1984

Five-oar: Jeanne Flanagan/47/Killingworth, CT/Somerville, MA/Florida Tech BS Biology, Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst MS Exercise Science/US National Team 1978, 79, 81, 85, US Olympic Team 1980 and 1984.

Four-oar: Carie Graves/ 51/Spring Green, Wisconsin/Austin, Texas/Univ of Wisconsin, English major; Harvard University, Masters in Education/US National Team 1975, 79, 81, 82, US Olympic Team 1976, 1980, 1984

Three-oar: Carol Bower/48/Manhattan Beach, CA/Haverford, PA/UCLA BS, Univ of Pensylvania MS/ US National Team 1979, 1981-1983, US Olympic Team 1980 and 1984, US National Team coach 1986-1987, 1989-1990, US Olympic Team coach 1988

Two-oar: Holly Metcalf/46/Providence, RI/Newton, MA/ Mount Holyoke College/US National Team 1981-1983, 1986-1987, US Olympic Team 1984

Bow-oar: Shyril O'Steen/43/Seattle/Lewiston, Maine, moving to Seattle in August/Univ of Washington BS 1985, Univ of Chicago PhD 1995/ US Junior Team 1978, US National Team 1981-1983, US Olympic Team 1984

Coach: Bob Ernst U.S. National Team coach from 1976 to 1988. US Olympic Team coach 1976, 1980, 1984 and 1988

Photo Credit: Susan Parkman, Pocock Rowing Center

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