The USA JM4- took care of business...
The Friday program at the 2014 Junior World Rowing Championships was a true German buffet of racing; every single event (there are 13 total) was contested in some way, and the only crews not racing were those few who advanced directly to the A finals from their heats - which is to say very few. US crews had a somewhat mixed day when it was all over, with some crews advancing confidently, some with a few bumps, and some, unfortunately including the men's eight, falling short and now hoping to rally for the B final.
One of three US crews to come across the line first today was the women's pair of Lily Lindsay and Meghan Galloway, which had a much more put together go of things out there today. In the heats, while they had a decent race, viewers up at the start noticed that they skidded around a bit in the first few hundred meters, and seemed to cost them a bit later in the race. Today they put together a much more complete race, which earned them a victory by a couple lengths of open water.
“In the heats, it’s all about figuring out where you stand, where everyone else is and just assessing the competition,” Lindsay said. “Today, we did a better job of staying in our own lane and space and working together to move the hull and, I think, treating it more as just business, doing what we needed to do and not letting our surroundings distract us from the plan.”
After grabbing the lead from Germany, Lindsay and Galloway continued to stretch their advantage on the field over the final 1,000 meters, crossing the line in a 7:38.69, nearly five seconds ahead of the Germans. The victory puts them in a strong position heading into the final, with a chance to cap off their junior careers, hopefully, on the medal stand.
“This is the fun part,” Galloway said. “This is what we’ve been working for all summer. We have 2,000 meters left as juniors, and that’s just really exciting.”
“It’s freeing knowing that there is nothing left, there’s nothing in our way now. It’s just that final 2,000 meters,” Lindsay said. “There’s no more qualification; there’s no more time trials. There are a few more practices, but in reality, there’s no more racing left other than that final. There’s something about that – knowing that it’s what we came here to do. Having that in our heads is really exciting. We’re going to be out there with the best crews finally seeing where our best race can take us.”
A punishing last 500 meters earned the women's double, sisters Mary and Claire Campbell, a win in their rep; the crew started in third, then crept through the field steadily, and then really opened it up, barreling through in the final 10 strokes to take the win in a tight field that saw the Czech crew fail to advance despite being only one second behind the winning US crew.
“That was probably the hardest race we’ve ever done,” Mary said. “We started sprinting 500 in. We normally race at a 32, 33 (strokes per minute), and today we raced at a 36.
“We’re shockingly calm,” Mary said on their approach to this week. “I think we have the mentality of racing to just to race, rather than having something to lose. Certainly, that applies to us here. We’re scary calm.”
Finally, men's single sculler Ben Davison won his quarterfinal today, making that his second win of two outings at this Junior Worlds – a pretty rare accomplishment for a US single sculler at any level, let alone the junior level. He did it with the second fastest time of the day to boot, so his speed looks pretty real.
The US men's four placed a solid second in their rep despite what the crew felt perhaps was not their best effort.
"We came out trying to move on to the next round, and while we didn’t necessarily have our best race, we’re in the same position as any crew that had gotten first yesterday or first today," stroke seat Izak Epstein said. "We move on to the next round and focus one race at a time. Tomorrow, we have an opportunity to make it to the A final, and that’s our next goal."
Coach Nick D'Antoni said was a somewhat unfocused race. "The guys felt like they weren't quite all thinking the same thing strategically," he said. "Little things like looking around a bit too much; all things they can address. Especially with juniors at the international level, when you make mistakes, you can really learn a lot from every race, and do something about it."
With only one member who has rowed on a junior team before (three-seat Alex Miklasevich), and two-seat Benjamin Cohen having rowed his first-ever 2000 meter race in the heat after rowing at Exeter, where the distances are much shorter, the crew definitely has some potential to grow before the Sunday final.
The men's quad put together a really nice race in their quarterfinal, leading the field for 1000 meters before letting Croatia sneak past them in the third 500. The US crew didn't let Croatia run the show, though, and charged back to within a few seats of the leader in the closing strokes.
“We knew Croatia was going to be a really quick boat, and we knew we couldn’t underestimate the other boats. Most of them posted quicker times than us in the heats,” stroke Kenneth Michalec said. “We knew we were faster than what we put out in the heats, and we just knew we had to stick to the race plan, come out a little faster than we did. We were in first place at the 500 and coming into the 1,000, and we just made our moves together and rowed really well together.”
Women's single sculler Elizabeth Sharis advanced to the semifinals by placing second in her quarterfinal. France’s Camille Juillet controlled the race from the start, as the other scullers were left to battle for the remaining two qualifying spots. Sharis got off the line in fourth position before working her way into second place as the scullers reached 500 meters to go. Serbia’s Ljiljana Josic challenged Sharis for second down the stretch, but the American held her off at the line. Juillet won the race in an 8:04.98, with Sharis crossing in an 8:17.32. Josic finished 0.29 seconds behind but also moved on. Sharis now will take on scullers from Serbia, Germany, Belarus, Greece and Bulgaria in first semifinal, needing a top-three finish to advance.
The US women's eight relied on a strong second 1000 to keep themselves in the mix in yesterday's heats, and did the same again today in the rep, racing into the third of four qualifying positions after rowing in fifth for a while, which had to be nerve-wracking for the crew and (perhaps especially) the coaches. With only seven crews entered, and two already having booked spots in the final from the heats, fifth of five in the reps would have put them in the proverbial "truck final," which in the women's eight here is not proverbial in the least, as the crew that failed to make the A final is done for the year. The US crew recovered in the second 500 from a bad start to race in third the rest of the way down the course, almost catching the Italians for second in the closing strokes.
The men's eight rowed to a heartbreaking fourth place after a long race in a thick pack. With only two to advance from the only rep, one crew was bound to make a bid early, and France made the bid; that left Great Britain, Serbia, and the US crews fighting it out for the second spot. Each of those three crews rowed in second, third, and fourth at some point in the race, shadowing France very closely. As it came to the line, the British crew jammed their bow just barely in front of the Serbs, and the US couldn't muster the sprint it would have taken to steal the race, finishing fourth in the end. The Brits knew what they had just earned, and celebrated in a way that we haven't seen from what seems to be a fairly reserved generations of British juniors. The US crew now races in the B final on Saturday.
The men's pair had a rough go in the fastest QF of the day, placing fifth in the three-to-advance race. They will go to the CD semi next, where a little more juice should actually put them in good position to do well, at least based on the times today. The men's double also head to the CD semis.
Some quick notes from the course:
(Athlete quotes provided by Brett Johnson of USRowing)
- A thick morning fog lifted very slowly, and so apparently did the morning fog of one of the announcers, who dropped an "Oh my God" in the second race of the day.
- I photographed this on Tuesday, but failed to mention it anywhere: the "No Anchors" sign at the finish line seems like some good advice
- Finally, Saturday's race schedule has been changed to accommodate some likely noontime thunderstorms; the morning races start a half hour earlier at 9am, and the midday gap is a bit longer. In speaking to some of the locals, there is a saying in Hamburg about the weather that goes like this: "There is no bad weather, only wrong clothes." If you are attending tomorrow, don't forget the rain gear…