As someone memorably once said, let the Games begin.
Quick TV update: as I understand it, the women's single and men's four, the first and last events of the first morning of racing, are going to be taped for broadcast later in the day, while the rest of the program will be live. As I get into a rhythm, I'll try to do updates on this; note that the broadcast schedules are incredibly fluid - for example, if someone in another sport really breaks one open, or there is some outstanding drama, which the Games are wont to produce, everything else can go out the window as the networks cover that story.
US crews got some brutal, monster draws - in fact, they'll race many of the favorites in the heats.
Your Heat is Your Destiny
Conditions at this writing - in the dark in the finish line grandstands - are hard to call - dead flat when I got here at 5. see our Resources page for the latest winds - note that crews race from North to South, with a slight eastern direction - I'd say they're racing SSSE.
Some issues in play - as I mentioned yesterday, BIG winds are expected for Monday and Tuesday - and as a result both placement and even finish times in the heats may dramatically affect advancement if racing starts to get cancelled. See our Resources section for some of the potential advancement scenarios - whew.
The critical issue here is this: while typically crews in three-to-advance heats might cruise a little, or crews in single advancement heats might choose to row through the reps, if winds get strong, your heat placement may become your destiny. We should see most crews burning it today.
It becomes clear why Stomporowski was the first to launch the past few mornings (besides the fact that she got stunningly good water to row on - see the first few photos of the Thursday practice photo gallery for evidence) - she is out of the gates in the first heat of the Games today in the women's single.
Did you see the photo of Ekaterina Karsten I posted? Yeesh - she looks more intimidating and ready than ever. I think she will be hard to beat.
And why mess around - Jen Devine lines up right next to Karsten this morning in the third heat of the day - Jen in lane three, Ekaterina in lane four. Jen was seeded for the event, btw.
No US crew in this event, alas, and today's heats should see the best contenders advancing easily - with four heats of five and one of four, three to advance from each, the talent is very spread out.
The US only drew the defending world champs and the Belarus, who have been in the medals for the last three years; time to go! Ten crews in this event, and the heat winner goes directly to the final.
The men's pair lines up against the medal contender South Africans, as well as the Croatians, which includes two US collegiate rowers, one from Brown, and one from Luke Walton's Cal. It's almost like Henley, but on an Olympic scale - fly thousands of miles to race your old roommate.
Again, no US crew here, so all eyes are on the Nzed twins to see what they're bringing.
Henry and Aquil see Sartori and Galtarossa today, as well as Haller and Bencsik from Hungary; it's top three, so it gets hairy from there.
And if it is going to be the Olympic Games, you might as well line up a lane or two over from the defending Olympic Champs Great Britain.