Worlds Racing Update posted by: Trish Downing (August 31, 2011)
There are so many things to write about my week in Slovenia, but we’ll see how long I can stay awake to report them. Needless to say, I have learned that rowing really takes it out of you. This week has been full of long days, time spent in the hot sun, frustrations getting my boat set up and training.
But now that training time is over, the 90-95 degree days are beyond us, the boat is dialed in and the training is in the bank, the second part of our journey has begun. Racing started Monday and I have a very specific task in front of me. My job is to come in, in the top 8 in my classification in order to qualify the United States a spot for next year’s Paralympic Games. Should I do that, it will be one goal down. But that doesn’t assure me that spot for London next year. Just the United States. But if I don’t earn that spot, well, it’s just a disadvantage going into next year. There is still a chance to earn one in 2012 before the Games, but that would require the athlete attempting to earn it (probably me, but could be anyone) to peak three times by August. Not ideal for anyone. So, to do it here, is best case scenario.
I’m not going to pretend that I am a superstar rower. I am all accounts, a rookie. Probably been rowing less than all the other girls in my division, but I do have an athletic background, the desire and the understanding of what it takes to race at the top of your game. What I am still working on, is transferring all I know about training and competing to the sport of rowing. That will take time. I guess you could say, I am thankful to be here, but would have loved to have a little more time under my belt.
Because there are twelve women in my division, we started with two heats on Monday. I raced against: Russia, France, Brazil, Korea and Belarus. We had a little bit of information about most of the racers and from that we could surmise that I could probably comfortably beat Russia, but that the others were likely out of my reach. This was not my coach and I being pessimists, but rather realists. I did need to race my hardest though to see where I shook out with the rest and see where I would fall in the overall field. As it turns out, in my heat, I was 5th out of 6 (beating Russia) and 8th overall. That was great news for me, because in the end I need to be top 8. The bad news is that the gal who came in 9th (Portugal) was only a second behind. After that first race, the winners were moved automatically to the “A” final. The rest of us would race again.
Tuesday’s results would send the top two from each heat directly to the “A” final and all the rest of us would go to the “B” final, which will be on Thursday. Therefore, no matter what I did, as long as I crossed the finish line, I would go to the “B” final (because clearly I was not going to be top two…again just being realistic…). With that in mind, Muff and I decided that my strategy would be to keep an eye on Portugal (my main competition for 8th place) and see how she raced and figure out how I am going to beat her on Thursday (should things play out the way we’ve figured based on the first day of racing times). I went hard the first 500 meters and pulled up a little the second 500 meters so as not to beat up my body. All went to plan and I ended the day with the 7th fastest time.
Today is a rest day and then Thursday is the moment of truth. Can I end up in 8th place? I sure hope so, but it WILL be a race. And I know that on race day, anything can happen. The best can fall and those at the back of the pack can surprise you. Nothing is a given. That is why we race. That is what makes it exciting. THAT is what might make me lose a little sleep tonight. :)
Tales From the Cold Plunge posted by: Megan Kalmoe (August 31, 2011)
Enjoying the Cold Plunge
It’s been an exciting couple of days for the W4X. We had an ok start to racing on Sunday coming second to our friends in the German quad in our heat. That race meant a trip to the Reps for us yesterday. The Reps aren’t always such a bad thing–especially for a crew like ours that doesn’t have a lot of racing experience together. This year, however, the Reps weren’t just a battleground for a place in the Final, because a place in the Final isn’t just a place in the Final this year. This year, Finalists are also Olympic Qualifiers, which has a significant impact on the way crews approach progression.
For the W4X, only the top 7 quads from this year’s World Championships have guaranteed entries for the Games next year. Missing one of the six spots in the A Final adds a lot of pressure for B Final crews who want to have an opportunity to compete in London.
For yesterday’s race, it was a fine balance between acknowledging that–yes, Olympic Qualification was on the line–but also not letting a fear of not qualifying define the way we raced. For a younger crew with limited international experience, I think we handled the emotion of the situation well. If you missed yesterday’s results, we had one of the closer finishes of the day with China and GB. The entire race was very tight, and a lot of fun to execute. We finished just .12 seconds ahead of China, and .87 ahead of GB to win the Rep and qualify for the A Final. With the conditions we had on the course yesterday, I realize that it just as easily could have gone the other way for us. So full credit to the Chinese and British crews for some very tough racing. That is what we’re here to do–making the Final shouldn’t be easy.
So the next step for us: recovery. That means resting and taking care of our bodies in order to be sharp and ready for the Final on Thursday. One of the many things this entails is the cold plunge. In Bled, there is a small but very cold brook that runs next to the path into the lake. The good news: the water is clean, clear, cold and great for recovery. The bad news: we are prime targets for public ridicule when everyone at the racecourse walks by and sees us shivering and smiling awkwardly out at them (what else can you do when you’re sitting in a stream eating a sandwich?). But sometimes bad news is good news, since we’ve also had some of the curiosity of passersby turn into conversation, photo ops, and LIST encounters. This morning we had extra morale boost with a whistle from some French heavies and a very friendly greeting from Marcus Bateman (2010 #15) and Matt Wells [www.redexpress2012.com].
More bad news: the cold plunge also slows metabolism and alertness as evidenced by my sub-par interactions with more handsome British men in the Men’s Four and Men’s Eight. Admittedly I was a little dazed during the full-scale inquisition from Greg Searle, Nathaniel Reilly-O’Donnell (cheeky), and cox Phelan Hill, and wasn’t having one of my better hair days, but they did make me laugh through my shivers on the bus ride home. It seems like the GB Men’s Team is stepping up their game for this year’s List…
Unfortunately for them, I was awake and alert when I got back to the hotel just in time to ride the elevator up with the Australian Men’s Eight including Bryn Coudraye (2010 #2) and Matt Ryan (2009 #10). They were all very sweet and each individually wished me good luck for my race tomorrow as they got out of elevator. What gentlemen!
I was just telling Natalie last night that this is the first time I’ve considered expanding the List to 30.
Off for another row, then laying low until the Final tomorrow. GO USA!!
Getting to London, Second Look posted by: John FX Flynn (August 31, 2011)
USA M4: in the semis, 'still alive'
Wednesday's racing had six of the remaining 13 Olympic events in the balance for the US, and while none of the crews locked up the chance to move on, the morning ended with five crews "still alive" in the hunt for London.
Here again, row2k's daily look at which US crews are On to London, Still Alive, or now Facing Final Qualification:
On to London: None for US Only two Olympic events--W2- and M8--went to semis today, and both US crews missed out on an A Final spot that would have punched their ticket today.
As the regatta hits full stride, however, plenty of nations were clearly gunning for spots within the qualification number, and in these events, making the A Final got the job done. Quite a few "faves" made the cut--like the NZL W2-, GBR W2-, ROU W2-, GER M8, GBR M8, and CAN M8--but we also saw the kind of inspired racing that the added stakes can create from a few crews. This was especially true in the women's pair: South Africa sent Italy out of the final in the last 1000, and Australia nearly caught New Zealand in their push to stay qualified ahead of the Romanians and Americans.
Still Alive: W2-, M8, M4-, M1x, W1x The semi results in the W2- and M8, while not ideal, don't end things for either crew. In the B Finals, a top two finish for the pair and a win by the eight--for 7th place-- will meet the qualification standard. It does put some extra pressure on, to be sure, and the women will be facing a few crews bound and determined to get to London, including the Italians, Belorussians, Canadians, and Germans. The Men's eight, which must now win out, will have to reprise a tight finish over the Ukrainian crew that nearly caught them in the semi, and contend with China, France, and the Kiwi eight.
For the M4-, who won the rep they nearly escaped altogether in Sunday's photo finish, a spot in the semi puts them in much the same shape as the M2-: with 11 crews heading to London, the US four essentially has one crew to beat out of the round of twelve. That would be the qualification mark met, of course, but the four is the flagship of the US men's fleet here in Bled, so watch for them to be racing that semi to make the A Final and the podium as well.
USA W1x Gevvie Stone took 3rd in her rep to keep the US's chances in the W1x alive. Her run into the semis puts her ahead of her results from Lucerne--where she missed the semis and went on to take 13th--but here she will need a top 9 finish to earn a qualifying spot, so here's hoping her upward trend continues in the last two rounds of racing.
In the M1x, Ken Jurkowski moved into the semis from the quarterfinal round and, with 11 scullers getting the London nod, he too has just one man to beat as far as qualification goes. Jurkowski, of course, did not have the luxury of a guaranteed Olympic spot when he won the US Trials in 2008. He earned his Olympic berth the other hard way--because none of this is supposed to be easy--at the 2008 Final Qualifier, by rowing down Lithuiania's Mindaugas Griskonis in Poznan. That year, he was relatively new to the single; this year, coming off a strong 4th place showing in Lucerne, Jurkowski is on form to qualify the US a good ten months earlier than last time out.
Facing Final Qualification: LM2x The LM2x got themselves within striking distance of the third and final transfer spot in their quarterfinal, but Portugal would not yield their place and US duo are headed to the C/D semi. De Regt and Winter took 11th in Karapiro, which would have been enough, just, this year, but things are of course tightening up in this event as London approaches. Based just on today's results, the US can expect to face good lightweight nations like Switzerland, Spain and the Netherlands in the Final Qualifier.
Today's result also means that the US now has zero spots for lightweight men at the London Games heading into 2012, which changes the run-up to London big time on the lightweight side.
Olympic Qualification Summary - US (as of Wednesday) 14 Olympic Events total In = 1 - W4x Out = 3 - M2x, LM4-, LM2x TBD = 10
Spicing It Up Before Racing posted by: Jimmy Sopko (August 31, 2011) Here's a video of us doing a few spice pieces (40 sec on 20 sec off) in preparation for our upcoming races. Our first race is this coming Thursday so we are getting antsy. It's especially tough to watch everyone else begin racing when we are just beginning our taper.
Congrats to all of the crews who have moved on so far and good luck in the rest of the regatta.