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row2k Starting Five: Taylor Ritzel
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Ed Hewitt, row2k.com
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Taylor Ritzel of the USA W8+

Ritzel stroking the USA W8+ in Henley

1. What inspired you to go to your first rowing practice; was there anything memorable about it?
My first ever rowing practice was actually at a High Performance Camp held in Seattle for girls looking to make the junior team. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. They stuck me in bow, I remember wearing a hoodie and thankfully was told last minute not to bring my gloves in the boat. Although I didn't understand really anything about the sport, I knew there was something special about it. I also got to watch a few practices from the launch that weekend and realized I definitely wanted to make rowing a priority.

2. Was there a practice, race or other event when you fell in love with the sport, or when you knew you might not be too bad at rowing? When you thought you could make the national team?
For me, my freshman year at Yale honestly felt like a fairytale. While there was a steep learning curve and I definitely had a lot to figure out, our boat had the best season Yale Women's Crew had had since 1979. I tried out for the U23 team in 2007 and was one of the last people cut and then decided to take a break from rowing during the summer of 2008. It was during the summer of 2008, after watching the Beijing Olympics, that I decided I wanted to see what I could do on the national team scene.

3. Best race/practice, worst race/practice?
It's hard to choose just one best or worst race, but I would have to say one of my most memorable races was Eastern Sprints 2010. Our boat was neck and neck with Princeton the entire way down the course.

Princeton had just kicked our butt during the regular season (shout out to my now teammate Sara Hendershot who stroked the Princeton V8), so we felt like we had a lot to prove. We ended up winning, just good old ballsy racing from both crews. One of my more interesting practices was just a few months ago when my pair literally ran over a woman in a kayak. We were stuck on her boat for a good five minutes, thankfully no one was hurt, not even the boat.

4. Best/Anything you've done in the sport no one knows about?
I can hold my breath for 3 minutes, although I suggest breathing when rowing.

5. Any/Most important advice for young rowers?
The biggest difference I've noticed between collegiate and elite athletes, aside from raw talent, is toughness. The US women are tough cookies. Nothing that is worth accomplishing is easy, work hard and when in doubt, work harder.

Hometown: Larkspur, Colo.
Current Residence: Princeton, NJ

Club Affiliation: USRowing Training Center - Princeton

Began Rowing: Yale University, 2006
Date of Birth: 9/4/88
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 185
High School: Douglas County High School
Undergraduate Education: Yale University, History, 2010
Current Coaches: Tom Terhaar
Years on National Team: Four – 2009-10, Under 23; 2010-12, Senior
International Results: Won gold and set a world record (5:54.17) in the heat in the eight at the Samsung World Rowing Cup II...Won bronze in the pair at the 2012 Samsung World Rowing Cup I...Won gold in the eight at the 2011 World Rowing Championships...Took bronze in the pair at the 2011 Rowing World Cup in Lucerne...Won the Remenham Challenge Cup and set the course record at the 2011 Henley Royal Regatta...Won gold in the eight at the 2010 World Rowing Championships...Won gold in the eight at the 2010 World Rowing Under 23 Championships…Finished second in the eight at the 2009 World Rowing Under 23 Championships…Finished second in the Remenham Challenge Cup at the 2009 Royal Henley Regatta…Won the Elite Eight Sports Council Cup at the 2009 Henley Women’s Regatta.

National Results: Finished second in the pair at the 2012 National Selection Regatta #1…Finished fourth in the pair at the 2011 National Selection Regatta #2...Won the eight at the 2010 USRowing National Championships…Won the varsity eight at the 2010 NCAA Championships…Finished fourth in the varsity eight at the 2009 NCAA Championships…Won the varsity eight at the 2008 NCAA Championships…Finished third in the collegiate division at the 2008 C.R.A.S.H.-B. Championships…Won the varsity eight at the 2007 NCAA Championships.

Personal: Taylor is a Shields Fellow at the National Rowing Foundation...She enjoys running, swimming and reading…She was a First-Team DI All-American from 2008-10…Taylor lists her most memorable sporting achievement as winning the varsity eight at the 2010 NCAA Championships…Taylor’s grandfather was the head coach of the Denver Broncos…She lists her parents and her grandfather as her personal heroes…Taylor would like to pursue a career in finance or non-profit work.


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