Racing for the 2017 World Championships begin on Sunday, September 24, in Sarasota, Florida. Below, we preview the M1x, W1x, LM1x, and LW1x events.
MEN'S SINGLE SCULLS
ENTRIES - 39
THE FAVORITE – New Zealand single sculler Robert Manson won both World Cup II and World Cup III after making the switch from the double in 2016. His win in Poznan also set a new World's Best Time for the event.
MEDAL CONTENDERS – This event will be somewhat wide open for the three spots on the podium. The top performers so far in 2017 have been Angel Fournier Rodriguez of Cuba and Nico Stahlberg of Switzerland. Fournier Rodriguez finished second to Manson in Poznan and Lucerne, while Stahlberg won in Belgrade, finished third in Poznan, and fourth in Lucerne.
Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic is a four time world champion in the event and won the European Championship this year, however his only World Cup appearance resulted in a sixth place finish in Lucerne. Damir Martin of Croatia will be looking to followup his silver medal in Rio with another high finish in Sarasota. Another potential medalist is Stanislau Shcharbachenia of Belarus, the fifth place finisher in Rio who won the bronze at both this year's European Championship and World Cup III.
USA PROSPECTS – Michael Clougher of California Rowing Club will be making his international racing debut in Sarasota after winning trials in August.
2016 OLYMPICS – Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand defeated Damir Martin of Croatia in the closest Olympic Final ever. Czech sculler Ondrej Synek won the bronze.
SUI W1x Jeannine Gmelin
WOMEN'S SINGLE SCULLS
ENTRIES - 21
THE FAVORITE – Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland has shown the most speed in 2017, winning both events she has raced in this year, World Cup I and World Cup III. She was a finalist in the single in Rio, finishing in fifth place in the final.
MEDAL CONTENDERS – There will be a host of scullers that should challenge for all the medals. Magdalena Lobnig of Austria won World Cup II, and took the bronze at both World Cup I and World Cup III following her sixth place finish in Rio. Carling Zeeman of Canada had a strong showing in her only event so far this year, finishing second in Lucerne.
Victoria Thornley of Great Britain has done well this season, winning the European Championship, taking silver at World Cup I and II, and finishing fifth at World Cup III. Other scullers in the mix to make the final and potentially medal are Jingli Duan of China, Annekatrin Thiele of Germany, Sanita Puspure of Ireland, Fie Udby Erichsen of Denmark, Hannah Osborne of New Zealand, and Lisa Scheenaard of The Netherlands.
USA PROSPECTS – Felice Mueller has made the switch the single this year after racing in the pair the previous two championships. She finished a strong fourth place in her only international race in 2017 at World Cup III and has the speed to make the final and potentially medal.
2016 OLYMPICS – Kim Brennan of Australia led wire to wire to take the gold over Gevvie Stone of the USA by 1.38 seconds. Jingli Duan of China held off Emma Twigg of New Zealand to take the bronze.
POL LM1x Artur Mikolajczewski
MEN'S LIGHTWEIGHT SINGLE SCULLS
ENTRIES - 30
THE FAVORITE – Polish sculler Artur Mikolajczewski won in both Poznan and Lucerne, however he finished in fifth place at the European Championships.
MEDAL CONTENDERS – Swiss Sculler Michael Schmid won the European Championship and finished second in Lucerne to Mikolajczewski. Hungarian Peter Galambos medaled at all three World Cups and finished second at the European Championships.
Kristoffer Braun of Norway has made all three A Finals so far in 2017 but has yet to medal in the single. Braun had a very successful Rio quadrennial in the lightweight double, winning gold in 2013, and bronze in 2014, 2015, and 2016. Paul O'Donovan of Ireland will also be a medal contender after the 2016 season saw him win silver in the double in Rio with his brother, then win gold a couple weeks later in the single at the World Championships.
USA PROSPECTS – Nick Trojan won trials and will represent the USA in the lightweight single for the second time. In 2015, he finished fifth in the event and should challenge for a berth in the A Final in Sarasota.
Kristen McCann, LW1x from South Africa
WOMEN'S LIGHTWEIGHT SINGLE SCULLS
ENTRIES - 16
THE FAVORITE – Kristen McCann of South Africa is the favorite by virtue of her win at World Cup III, her only appearance so far for 2017. She will be pressed hard for the top place on the podium.
MEDAL CONTENDERS – Martyna Mikolajczak of Poland, finished second in the lightweight double in Lucerne and won the B Final in Rio. Dutch sculler Marieke Keijser finished 2nd in Lucerne and is the reigning U23 champion in the event.
Swiss sculler Patricia Merz and Swede Emma Fredh have also shown speed and could challenge for a podium spot, as well as Denise Walsh of Ireland.
USA PROSPECTS – Mary Jones of Cambridge Boat Club won trials in the lightweight single for the second year in a row and has raced internationally twice so far in 2017. She placed fifth in Poznan and fourth in Lucerne, so a spot in the A Final is possible for Jones.