The Wednesday highlights from the US came from Kara Kohler in the women's single, the PR3 double of Todd Vogt and Gemma Wollenschlaeger, and a hauling-into-the-headwind effort by the men's pair of Even Olson and Billy Bender. All three advanced today and stayed on the Paris path for qualification. Sam Melvin also moved on to the semis in the light single, a non-Olympic event.
Full US results on the day, and where the crews that raced Wednesday will head next in the progression:
- PR1 M1x - 3rd in Repechage, to CD Semi (top 7 qualify for Paralympics)
- PR3 Mix 2x - 5th in Repechage, to B Final, (top 6 qualify for Paralympics)
- PR3 Mix 2x - 1st in Repechage, to A Final, (top 5 qualify for Paralympics)
- W1x - 1st in Quarterfinal, to AB Semi (top 9 qualify for Olympics)
- M1x - 4th in Quarterfinal, to CD Semi (top 9 qualify for Olympics)
- LM1x - 3rd in Quarterfinal, to AB Semi (non-Olympic event)
- LM2x - 4th in Quarterfinal, to CD Semi (top 7 qualify for Olympics)
- M2- - 2nd in Quarterfinal, to AB Semi (top 11 qualify for Olympics)
- M2x - 4th in Quarterfinal, to CD Semi (top 11 qualify for Olympics)
The wind was back today, building all morning into a really chippy headwind which arrived in force by noon, making the water scratchy for the quarterfinals of the light men's singles and the races that followed. Lanes were reallocated to give the heat winners the south side of the lake, but once the wind went to a straight head, the lanes seemed equally impacted and, if anything, the advantage may have switched here and there to the other side with the gusts, whew.
It was the kind of day that stayed rowable, but had a lot of coaches adjusting oar lengths and loads in the boatyard--and a lot of rowers battling bad strokes as much as each other down the track.
The breeze will be back tomorrow and again on Friday, and while we've seen nothing like the wild weather that bedeviled the juniors at U19s last month, World Rowing will continues to tweak the program to ensure maximum fairness. We already have an updated schedule for Thursday and Friday that moves the crucial semi finals to the beginning of each days session, before the wind really gets going full blast.
Unfortunately for the US on Wednesday, the men's double was on the butcher's bill for the day, falling to fourth in their quarterfinal with the headwind, despite the promise they showed by winning their heat on Monday. The light men's double and Finn Putnam in the single took fourth as well, putting those three boats out of the hunt for the Olympic spots that are the primary prize this year: crews in the pre-Olympic Worlds race for those first, and then get down to settling the medals.
Among the more notable casualties, internationally: neither of the Tokyo 202One silver medalists in the single made it out of the quarters: Kjetil Borch of Norway, the two time Olympic medallist who was looking to qualify here for his fourth Games, and Anna Prakaten, of Uzbekistan.
The US has four men's crews still on track to qualify here in Belgrade, and six women's boats. The Para team, already qualified in the PR3 four, has one more shot to qualify thanks to the PR3 Mix 2x's repechage win today. Any boats that don't hit the mark here at Worlds will have a last shot at the Final Olympic Qualifier...but when they call something the "Regatta of Death," you do your best to avoid that path if you can.
Men's Pair Feasts On the Headwind
Olson and Bender after the finish
The stiff breeze looked like perfect conditions for a big, rangy crew like the USA's Olson and Bender, and they rowed down the Spanish pair which took silver and led through middle of the race before cruising home behind the Spaniards to qualify. One bonus of their finishing spot is that they will not have to see Spain again in the semis, but they will see the powerful GB pair, along with the Swiss, the Italians, the Danes, and the Croatians.
Oh, and they will do it on even shorter rest than originally planned: already set for a next day semi on Thursday at 10:35, which is unusual at a regatta were crews generally get a day off between rounds, the revised program has them going another 40 minutes earlier, at 9:35.
row2k: Can you talk a little bit about getting after it in that headwind?
Evan Olson: We are definitely not a headwind crew, but we were talking to each other on the start line and knew it was going to affect the other crews just as much us. And I told Billy, we are going to take bad strokes, but we just need to take the bad strokes and then immediately get it back.
I caught the water at the catch a couple times, Billy caught his blade a couple times but we got it back. We didn't let it rattle us
All the boats were going to go really slow. We just had to go out there and go the least slow. We had to stick to whatever our base was. Normally it would be 38 strokes a minute, 1:36 splits, but I was seeing mid 1:40s at 35. But I thought, it's okay because everyone else is going the same speed as us.
row2k: Crews usually get a day off between rounds, but the schedule has you right back here tomorrow morning for the semi. How do you handle this quick turnaround?
Evan Olson: My old coach Michael Callahan always used to say, 'Win the recovery' and we were really good at UW at recovering. I have a lot of those old protocols that we used to do there. At IRAs, you race every single day, and the goal is to be better every single day as the regatta progresses. That's mainly our goal, too: we've done a lot of racing every single day at IRAs and so we know what to expect. You really cool the body down after the race, flush the lactic acid, and then immediately start on your nutrition and hydration. Hopefully we have that down, but I guess we'll see.
row2k: You guys are a pretty new pair, getting together just before Trials, but you've both been in a lot of tight races at the IRA and in college. What have you guys been able to pull from that experience that helps you in this pair?
Evan Olson: We know that the winner of the race is going to be the guy who crosses the line at the end of 2k first. So like if we're down at 500 in, if we're down at 1k, that's okay. We've done so many races where we've come from behind and managed to win, so we're okay with being behind. We know that if we row our best race that we're competitive with the field.
I think that rowing eights a lot is like rowing any type of boat class: the more reps you get, the more confidence you're going to have in your own ability. Billy and I both come from fast programs. We've done a lot of reps. We've done a lot of races, and we're confident enough in our own abilities and in each other that that we can race it from the front, we can race it from the back, and be competitive.
row2k: You finished up at Washington, did a year with Oxford Brookes and won Henley this year, then jumped in a boat with Billy Bender, a Dartmouth guy. How did that go down and what was the training like up up in Hanover at Dartmouth?
Evan Olson: It was an amazing opportunity. I got in contact with Billy coming straight out of Henley and flew over to Hanover, we rowed together with Wyatt Allen, and he coached us every day. Then we went off to trials, did well, and went back. Wyatt was great and training on the Connecticut is really amazing. We found a lot of speed.
There were no distractions. It was just rowing and getting some good strokes and some amazing stretches of uninterrupted water. We had every single opportunity to build speed and we did. The other guys all went off to Italy, and I think that they had some good water and they had some good stretches, but we chose not to go and I think that maybe it was better for us to stay at Dartmouth."
PR3 Double Makes a Statement
USA PR3 Mix 2x
After closing well in the second 1000 of their heat but taking third, Todd Vogt and Gemma Wollenschlaeger flipped the script in their rep of the PR3 mixed double, and led pillar to post for both a win and a spot in the A Final. They still have work to do--needing a top five finish on Friday to book a spot for Paris, but they have already beaten two of the crews that they will see in the final--GB and Brazil--and the row today should have them thinking about a podium place as well as a Paralympic berth.
Gemma Wollenschlaeger: It was a good race. Conditions were a little hard with the cross and a headwind but we just stuck to our plan and kept our heads in.
Todd Vogt: It was well executed race. We went out and did what we wanted to do: tried to be cleaner off the start, then push a little harder near the beginning, and we did a good job of that.
row2k: Todd, can you talk a little bit about how the PR3 double is different this year, now that it is a year out from becoming a Paralympic event and has a full set races--heats, reps, and finals--to get through, as opposed to being a straight final like last year when you raced in Racice?
Todd Vogt: There's two big differences which I think are good. First thing is that it shows how high the quality of the event is. Last year, there were six entries, and this year there were 11. Second thing, the speed of all the entries is faster: the whole field is faster. It makes it more fun to have to do a heat and then come through the reps. It makes it feel like you've earned it a little more, even just getting to the final.
row2k: Absolutely, and Gemma, you just finished a whole season of college races at Temple, full of races and heats and finals. Can you contrast racing here at Worlds with your college season?
Gemma Wollenschlaeger: The biggest thing that I always say to everyone is that, instead of crossing the line and saying 'Yeah, Drexel' or 'Great job, Lehigh' here it's 'Yeah, GB' and 'Great job, Australia.' That's the biggest change. Sitting at the start line, though, it's the same feeling. You're up there and you're about to throw down a 2k and that's it.
Their final is set for Friday.
Notes from the Course
You Heard it Here First: one of the stakeboat kids informed row2k that we would photograph him one day rowing for Serbia, and he was super confident.
The kid later asked USA LM1x Sam Melvin if he wanted to trade unis after the regatta., while holding his stern for the start.
Old School FTW: the macons made it...Swiss sculler Aurelia Janzen--the U23 champ and all of 19 years old (!) made it to the semi finals just behind 2022 World Champ Karolien Florijn and Magdalena Lobnig. Nothing like going through to the AB semi right on the sterns of two Olympians.
Her shoe height placement tho is something we truly have never seen before:
Bow Art Backstory: The bird bow painting on the Hungarian light men's single Peter Galambos' boat is in honor of his family name, which translates to 'keeper of doves,' thus the bird design; it is also in the national colors, arranged in the same order as the flag and the blade design. The bird bow was designed by @artofrowing.nz photographer Vera Buczu.
Trippy, right? If you were sitting in bow, it feels like it might be hard to stare at this shirt for an entire race or practice.
The Local Scene: The local rowing clubs row on the water just to the north of the course, over the berm with the big BELGRADE sign on it. (photos will be in scene gallery)
Bravo, Marta: The Polish women's single Marta Wieliczko waited for everyone in her E/F semifinal to cross the line before leaving the finish area; in a superb show of sportspersonship, the wait was over two minutes.
GB LW2x Goes Spear-Fishing: apparently...nothing like two gold medal 'favourites' colliding in practice, oof.
Dock Dog Update: The dog mentioned in yesterday's report has come under the care of venue media manager Cora Zillich; first Cora retrieved the dog from the dock, and really within seconds had the dog on a leash, looking every bit like the pup's person. Cora is ensuring the dog has food, is looking into shots, etc., and today met with a local caretaker for stray dogs; it is pretty much guaranteed a good home.
Cora Zillich, right, and Brian Orsini, Head Of Communications for World Rowing