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Getting to London: The Last Steps
Friday, June 8, 2012
John Flynn, row2k.com
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Tom Peszek and Justin Stangel in 2011

Ed. note: the original version of this feature commented on the initial entries; it was amended (on 6/11/12) to reflect the actual entries on the eve of racing, as detailed here by USRowing.

There have been a lot of steps to get to London, and, as we've covered here and here, it has been a complicated process.

Now, we are down to the last two, most simple steps: either win the Olympic Trials next week (June 11-14) in a small boat (M1x, M2-, W2-) or get selected and named to a big boat (W8+, W4x, M4x) by the National Team Coaches. These are the only two ways left to make the 2012 Olympic squad in rowing, Simply, and starkly, four long years of work will be decided in the next two weeks as the last 24 Olympic seats are filled.

The getting named route in play for the Women's Eight and the Men's and Women's Quads should look pretty familiar to anyone who ever rowed on a team with more than one boat: lots of erg testing, seat racing, and time trials--all to find the best four or eight individuals and, most crucially, the best lineup for absolute peak performance. On the women's side, the coaches also have some international results to work with--both the eight's group and the quad squad took part in the World Cups this spring--while men coaches have done all their selection internally, and domestically, at the Chula Vista Training Center.

All three of those crews must be named by June 22nd, at the latest, and--once named--the crews cannot be changed apart from a substitution for illness or injury.

The Olympic Trials next week feature just three boat classes: the Men's Single and the Women's and Men's Pairs, the three small boats left which have qualified Olympic entries but have not otherwise satisfied the selection criteria--and thus have gone to open Trials.

The M1x will be contested at Trials because the NSR1 winner, 2008 Olympic sculler Ken Jurkowski did not place in the top four spots at either the Belgrade or Lucerne World Cup. He can still qualify as the US single sculler, but now he has to again defeat any US challengers who opted to keep training in the single for another shot at him. Three other scullers will contest the Trials, including 2-time Head of the Charles champ Mike Sivigny and former USA U23 sculler Jim Dietz II. The winner will be the US Olympic sculler in London.

The W2- will be contested at Trials because Erin Cafaro and Elle Logan declined the Olympic berth they earned by winning the pair at NSR1 and then winning a silver in Belgrade and another silver in Lucerne--both of which satisfied the "top 4" finish stipulated in the procedures. Cafaro and Logan had to decide by May 30th whether to accept the opportunity to be the USA W2- and, by declining, they have been able to stay in the mix for the Women's Eight--a crew that seems almost guaranteed to medal if not win.

Four crews were entered in the W2- Trial, all from that camp, but only two will race, and Cafaro and Logan will not among them. Instead, the race will feature the duo of Jamie Redman and Amanda Polk, both of whom are defending World Champs in the W8--and raced in the eight as recently as this year's Lucerne World Cup--against Sara Hendershot and Sarah Zelenka, winners in the W4 in Bled last year. The winner of these Trials will be the US Women's Pair at the Games and, due to the new Olympic Finals format FISA will be using in London, it is very unlikely that the winning pair will pull the sort of double duty that we have occasionally seen in the W8 and W2- at past Olympics.

The M2- will be contested at Trials because the winners at NSR1--Charlie Cole and Glenn Ochal--declined to race the World Cup circuit; they chose instead to remain in the States for the fours selection camp and both were named to the M4- lineup earlier this week. This event is really the most open of all three: the 2012 NSR winners will not be racing, and there are entries from both the Chula Vista and Oklahoma City Training Centers, as well as a number of club pairs. There are a total of fourteen pairs racing, so that's nearly thirty US men seeking a last-chance spot for the Olympics. The group includes guys cut from the men's eight and men's four camps, a few U23 gold medalists, two former Olympians, and several members of the 2011 Worlds team, including Tom Peszek and Justin Stangel--the guys who qualified the US in this event last year--but who are now racing with new partners.

The days of truly open trials in all events may be over--the theory being that selection camps and the NSR-World Cup sequence can create better results nowadays--but this Men's Pair race will be as close to a wide open trial as the US has ever seen.

So, two more weeks, six more boats, and the 12-boat strong US contingent for the Games will be set--and then it will be on to getting things done in London.

A Quick Status Summary of the US crews in each of the 14 Olympic Events

To be decided at US Olympic Trials

To be named, by USRowing's NT Coaches

Already named, by USRowing's NT Coaches
-M4- (Glenn Ochal, Henrik Rummel, Charlie Cole, Scott Gault)

Qualified via World Cup placement
-LW2x (Kristin Hedstrom, Julie Nichols)

Qualified via Final Olympic Qualifier
-W1x (Gevvie Stone)
-W2x (Margot Shumway, Sarah Trowbridge)
-LM4- (Anthony Fahden, Will Newell, Nick LaCava, Robin Prendes)
-M8+ (Giuseppe Lanzone, Will Miller, Ross James, Brett Newlin, Jake Cornelius, Steve Kasprzyk, David Banks, Grand James, Zach Vlahos)

Failed to Qualify (at Final Olympic Qualifier)


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