BLED, Slovenia - One year ago, Adrienne Martelli was still in selection camp and trying for a seat in the women's quad for the world championships on Lake Karapiro.
When the camp ended, Martelli was left out. "It was pretty much a shock to me," she said earlier this week.
Martelli was pretty much in shock again today when she looked up after crossing the finish line at the 2011 World Rowing Championships on Lake Bled, and saw that she had just helped the U.S. women's quad win a silver medal, the first medal for the United States at this championship.
The crew of Megan Kalmoe (St. Croix Falls, Wis.), Martelli (University Place, Wash.), Natalie Dell (Somerville, Mass.) and Stesha Carle (Long Beach, Calif.) finished up a week of racing and a year of training by rowing out of fourth place to second place this morning in a time of 6:19.90, just 1.53 seconds behind first-place Germany.
"I just couldn't even believe it," Martelli said. "I was just so, so happy and so proud of everybody. It was a great race and I can't even believe it. I'm so excited I'm pretty speechless, really.
"We had a really aggressive start and I think at one point, Stesha called that we were in two seat (of the German boat). Everyone could just feel the boat pick up right from there. We knew we were right in it and just had to keep pushing. It was hard fought and we finished pretty close to the Germans. So that's something to look forward to next year."
The race capped off three days of racing that started with a second place finish to Germany in the heat and a trip to the repechage. In the rep, the U.S. found its place and rowed to a win and place in the final.
Yesterday, they went to the line and finished the job.
"It was a very good race," said Carle. "It was very internal and very aggressive and that's not how we raced before. But we did what we had to do on the day."
The victory picked up the mood for the U.S. on a day when the U.S. men's eight crew of coxswain Ned DelGuercio (Media, Pa.), Nareg Guregian (North Hills, Calif.), Josh Inman (Hillsboro, Ore.), Steven Coppola (Buffalo, N.Y.), Dan Walsh (Norwalk, Conn.), Henrik Rummel (Pittsford, N.Y.), Alex Osborne (Sherman Oaks, Calif.), Grant James (DeKalb, Ill.) and Ross James (DeKalb, Ill.) finished second in the B final and failed to qualify the boat for the 2012 Olympic Games next summer in London.
The U.S. crew missed the A final in its semifinal Wednesday and had one more chance to place the eight among the seven top boats in the regatta and claim the last Olympic qualifying spot.
They fell immediately off the pace at the start and had to row from fifth place into second without ever really challenging Ukraine for the win. Ukraine rowed a 5:36.72 to the U.S time of 5:38.93.
"No excuses," said Guregian. "We lost. I feel like we let down our country," he said.
"It's disappointing," said Rummel. "We don't know what happened. We were fast at Lucerne and we lost speed in the last week. I don't know where it went. I don't know what's wrong, but we lost speed."
For the U.S., the inability to qualify the eight means a trip to the Olympic Qualification Regatta scheduled for May 20-23, 2012, in Lucerne, Switzerland, and some immediate evaluation.
For now, they are staying in Europe and will go from Bled to Rendsburg, Germany for the Canal Cup on Sept. 11.
While the eight failed to qualify the boat, the women's pair did manage to secure a spot for the boat in London.
After failing to make the A final from its semifinal race on Wednesday, the crew of Kady Glessner (Seattle, Wash.) and Caryn Davies (Ithaca, N.Y.) rowed to second place in the B final and took the last qualifying spot for the pair. Only the top eight boats from the world championships automatically qualify for the Olympics.
But it was not easy.
While they maintained second place throughout the length of the race, and finished in a time of 7:23.36, Canada held fast to their stern and crossed less than a second behind them in 7:23.42. Italy won the race in 7:22.67.
"I'm really relieved," said Davies. She said that, while last night was tense, the night before the semifinal was worse. "We knew what the stakes were and what we were capable of, and I think we were too excited about it. Today we just calmed down. We took it a beat down and we felt a little extra 'umph," she said.
"I knew coming across the 250 that we bumped it a little early," said Glessner. "I knew it was going to be tight, and that it was going to take a full (2,000 meters), so we just stayed calm and stuck to our guns. It was definitely closer there at the end. But luckily, we did just enough to get it done."
Earlier in the day, Ron Harvey (Downingtown, Pa.) rowed to a third-place finish, earned a spot in the men's arms and shoulders single sculls, and is on track to qualify the boat for the 2012 Paralympics in London. The first eight boats in each adaptive event qualify for an automatic birth next year.
Harvey drew defending world and Paralympic champion Britain Tom Aggar, who easily won the semifinal in a time of 5:13.21. Australian Erik Horrie finished second in a time of 5:17.68 with Harvey finishing third in 5:20.36 and New Zealand's Daniel McBride crossing in 5:20.46. The finish for third was so close, the result was not immediately announced. "I wasn't sure either," Harvey said.
"I'm relieved, is pretty much how I would put this," he said. "My goal for this regatta was to qualify the U.S. for the Paralympics. Getting to the A final is nice, because that's assured and now I can just concentrate on my place tomorrow and not have that extra pressure of trying to qualify.
"I'm pretty happy, and I knew it was going to be a tough race. I knew the other guys were all really tough competitors and that it would come down to the line and it definitely did. Tom - I figured would walk away, and he did, and through the middle, I was looking over and China was about a length up on me.
"But I've raced him three times and I knew he starts out fast and then fades. I was pretty confident I could come back on him. I was just concentrating on Australia and New Zealand."
In the women's arms and shoulders single sculls, Tricia Downing (Denver, Colo.) finished fourth in the B final and could not secure a qualification for the boat for 2012. Following the adaptive events were the lightweight men's and women's single sculls.
Ursula Grobler (Pretoria, South Africa) won her semifinal with a time of 7:54.30 over Brazil's Fabiana Beltrame (7:56.57) and Canada's Tracy Cameron (8:00.91).
Grobler finished second in her heat Sunday and was determined to improve her finish today.
"That was better execution," she said. "I got better feel and I got more of the feel I'm looking for. Although this race is just for position, it does set me up for a good position in the final. It just counts for so much when you're in a good lane and you can see everything and push off the competition."
In the lightweight men's single, Andrew Campbell (New Canaan, Conn.) rowed to a second place finish and a place in the final tomorrow, finishing second in 7:12.86, behind Denmark's Henrik Stephansen, who finished in 7:07.37.
In the women's four race for lanes, the crew of Sara Hendershot (West Simsbury, Conn.), Emily Regan (Buffalo, N.Y.), Kara Kohler (Clayton, Calif.) and Sarah Zelenka (Itasca, Ill.) finished first in a time of 7:03.17, more than 10 seconds over second-place China. The U.S. will be the top seed in the final Saturday.
Racing for lanes in the U.S. lightweight men's eight was coxswain Jack Carlson, (Belmont, Mass.), William Newell (Weston, Mass.), Jimmy Sopko (Mathews, Va.), Nick LaCava (Weston, Conn.), Edward King (Ironton, Mo.), Matt Kochem (Burnt Hills, N.Y.), Christian Klein (Herndon, Va.), Kenny McMahon (Ladysmith, Va.) and Austin Meyer (Cohoes, N.Y.).
The crew finished first in a time of 5:56.16 over second place Italy, which finished in 5:56.36. The final is scheduled for Sunday.