American sculler and blogger Megan Kalmoe has had a busy last few months, finishing second in the women's quad in Bled and publishing The List for the fourth year in a row. For those unfamiliar with Kalmoe's List, it began in 2008 as light-hearted and fun attempt at ranking the twenty "hottest" male rowers and has since gone viral, being picked up by multiple media outlets across the globe. This week's interview goes behind the scenes with Kalmoe on the making of the 2011 List and the impact it has had on her since it's release.
row2k: When did you start working on The List for 2011?
Megan Kalmoe: Honestly--I started working on the 2011 List at Henley. I don't want to name names, but I spotted a member of the GBR M4- out for coffee one day in Henley and realized that scouting had unintentionally already started, so I went with it. Between that and the Red Express following us all over the river it was hard to avoid, really.
row2k: How did you approach this year differently than previous?
Megan Kalmoe: The only thing that was different for me this year was knowing that people might actually be looking forward to it. In the past, it was more of a private joke and I didn't think anyone took any notice of it. Since I had people expressing interest in it early in the season, I knew that if I made the Worlds Team and had a chance to write a 2011 List that I would have to up my game a little bit. I had had a lot of requests for photos of the guys so I wanted to find a way to make that happen, and then there were the t-shirts.
row2k: T-shirts? What gave you that idea?
Megan Kalmoe: Actually it was one of my USA teammates, Dan Walsh, who came up with the idea one night when we were talking in the hotel lobby in Bled. I absolutely loved the idea, but I didn't think anyone would want to do it. I have a good relationship with Loralynn and Dave at Sew Sporty so I took a chance and asked them if they would be willing to do it, and they said yes. I'm picking up the List shirts next weekend at HOCR and I can't wait to see how they turned out.
row2k: What are some of the criteria for The List; Are there any objective components or is this 100% subjective?
Megan Kalmoe: I admit that criteria for the List are largely subjective. And it's not always a guarantee that what gets you a List nod one year will be the same the following year. Performance is probably the most objective of them all, whether it's an Olympic Championship, a world record performance or just a really memorable race...I love underdogs. I think the best way to generalize what I look for off the water are things that make someone stand out in a crowd: world ranking, being 6'8", accents, a dazzling smile, confidence, personal style, great manners or a sense of humor. In the end, it's all meant to be fun and there are definitely more than 20 amazing male athletes at Worlds every year, so I hope no one takes it too seriously.
row2k: Who is the most interesting person you've met, thanks to The List?
Megan Kalmoe: He'll be really embarrassed if you publish this, but I was actually really glad to meet Rares Crisan in person this season after he wrote a retaliatory women's List last year. I was a little put off by it at first but after reading more of his blog I discovered he actually has a very thoughtful voice in his writing, and not a bad eye for multimedia either. Dave Calder introduced us in Lucerne and it was a little jarring because even though we were standing right next to one another, I don't think either of us realized who the other was until Dave introduced us (and Rares is even more gorgeous in person so I probably had a little brain-to-speech delay). There was a split second that it sort of registered but before we had a chance to talk I was whisked away by a group of my teammates. We had some more time to catch up later in the summer in Bled, which was nice.
row2k: How much traffic does The List generate for your blog over a regular post?
Megan Kalmoe: It's significantly more than the regular posts that I write. The 2010 List was the former most popular post of all time, but the 2011 List has completely blown that away. I had almost 4,000 hits at the end of the day on Monday and I've had 2,000+ every day over the last week. The video has had almost 9,000 views. I'd say on a typical day without a new post I have between 100-200 hits... on days that I write a new post it's about twice that. But nothing compares to this. The support and enthusiasm (positive and not) has been really cool to see. I think one of the best parts of being an elite athlete is getting to meet and interact with people all over the world and share some sort of common bond with them--whether it's a love of the sport, or just an appreciation for good looking men.
row2k: Any suggestions for athletes trying to make The List next year?
Megan Kalmoe: I really like sunflowers and birds of paradise, pearls, scarves, Chanel Mademoiselle and my favorite color is orange.
row2k: Everyone will be upping their game for 2012, what's in store for The List in the upcoming Olympic year?
Megan Kalmoe: Well, the first goal is to make the Team so I have the opportunity to write another List. If I can make that happen, then we can talk about ideas for next year.