row2k Features
Megan Kalmoe and The List
October 17, 2011
Erik Dresser,

Kalmoe (right) with silver in Bled

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.

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Log in to comment
10/18/2011  4:59:20 AM
Sounds like someone's pretty upset about not making the list!

10/18/2011  9:14:28 AM
Yeah, im pretty upset... I think it is interesting that those who have worse results a year later are taken off the list. It reminds me of the cheerleader in the teen rom-com that dumps her QB boyfriend when he breaks his leg. Good behavior right?

Although I do not think doing this sort list is a positive thing for the sport, I do have to acknowledge that Kalmoe is actually putting herself out there and if nothing else, causing a stir. Any sort of publicity is good publicity is such an unknown and unreported sport, so the question is whether the ends justifies the means. So good job to Kalmoe for taking it upon herself to gain some mainstream publicity for the sport of rowing, but the content does not promote legitimacy of the sport.

10/17/2011  12:07:18 PM
What happens when a female 'list' comes out? The reception would not be positive at all. Then the blatant sexism of condoning this sort of behavior for one gender but not for another becomes apparent. Surely there is enough talk in any boathouse locker room to generate hundreds of competing lists of female rowers.

So lets see it: The hottest female rowers of '11? Which male rower is going to step up to that task, claim responsibility (and alienate a huge number of female rowers). Women, those on the list and those not on it, would not react kindly to being judge solely on their looks (even though Kalmoe transparently claims judging is based on more). Modern feminism strictly discourages judging women on their looks. But when the tables are turned, not only is it ok, it is promoted.

While Kalmoe states that results, personality, etc. matter, she also concedes that "scouting" for the list comes mostly from seeing hot guys on or around the course. The other factor, from looking at the results, seems to be who can make a boat go fastest. The result is a list of looks/success at rowing. Everyone already knows who had a great year rowing; why does how physically attractive those successful rowers are matter? Not to mention that look/success is the classic goal of vapid, vacuous, immature people whose desire is to find someone hot and rich. "It is all in good fun" is a classic excuse for behavior that should not be condoned.

10/18/2011  7:13:22 AM
As described in the interview above, a male rower did create a female list. I guess there wasn't much of an uproar.

10/18/2011  9:06:18 AM
It specifically says it is a "retaliatory list". Not a complementary list. Kalmoe herself says she was put off by it. The point is that the amount of coverage given to such a pointless, subjective, and superficial evaluation is not a good thing for the sport.

Do you think Golf magazine does a 20 hottest female golfers? Of course not, be cause it takes away from the legitimacy of the athletes being recognized as athletes.

"Its one of those moments where you say “Hey this would be a funny Idea”, than mid way through you’re realizing what you’re doing." Rares Crisan, before he stopped putting together a competing list because it was "stalkerish."

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