Gold in the Men's coxed pair, and the men's lightweight eight; silver in the LW women's single; bronze in the women's four.
Gold in men's coxed pair
Jim Neil, Phil Henry, and Nick Anderson withstood a sustained, 1200 meter push from the German pair to hold onto their lead.
The stats: it's Jim first gold in 12 teams; Phil's third medal in three (gold in 8 in 1997; bronze last year in 2+); and Nick's third medal in the pair (gold in 1997, bronze last year).
The crew got themselves in the lead by up to a deck, but the Germans wouldn't let them get away, and even moved back a bit several times. The final 700 meters were almost terrifying, as the margin never changed by more than a couple feet. The crew looked damn good, responding to relentless pressure from behind by upping the ante themselves out front. By the close of the race, the crew was throwing in bombs.
"On that last windup, I wasn't even looking at the Germans, and didn't know if we were going up, or going faster," Neil said. "I was just giving it everything I had."
Nick Anderson said that the crew typically has a fast start, and that they wanted to play to that strength without digging themselves into too deep a hole.
"We wanted to go after the first 500, but wanted to make sure we would still have something left," Nick said after winning his third medal in three years.
Jim Neil told the FISA press folks: "Nick Anderson is the SOLE reason this should be an Olympic event. And you can print that."
It's the first gold medal for the US in the LW 8 since 1974; 25 years is a long time to wait.
An Aussie TV station interviewed the crew after the race about the Open Men's eight; Chris Kerber said "We row with them every day, we race them three times a week. Lots of those guys were down here today yelling for us, and you can bet we'll be down here tomorrow for them."
The crews were even through the entire second 500, and I was standing with Mike Teti as they reached. Teti said "Here comes the move." The crew turned on visibly a few strokes later, and within ten strokes had about a half-length; within a little over 20, it was three-quarters of a length. Eventually, Salamini was looking at bowballs. The Brits pushed again, driving their bowball up to maybe the US seven seat, but after that first move, the race was all but over. Really commanding performance from this crew, which didn't surprise me at all. Watching them in Princeton all summer, I've been predicting victory in this event for the past month now, tho I have almost never said it aloud.
You'll see that all the celebratory pictures don't include bowman Bill Plifka; he was in the boatbay almost delirious from exertion. The guy almost made it seem fun; he's a fairly amusing exhaustion victim.
The crew plans a get-together tonight; watch out, St. Kitts.
Silver in the women's LW single
Would a headwind have been all that Lisa Schlenker, world record holder on the erg, needed to get past Pia Vogel?
"These are the conditions we got," Schlenker said after the race, "and these are the conditions we raced in." This sort of philosophical attitude has worked extraordinarily for the woman who placed second in the US trials, got a shot at the single when Sherri Kiklas opted to row in the quad, and then placed second in the world today.
Schlenker raced a cool, strong race, rowing from fifth to second confidently. She took a shot at Vogel late in the race, rowing a little lower and staging power moves, but couldn't quite catch the defending world champ.
For folks who are wondering about race night prep, Schlenker spent the previous evening racing minicars at a local amusement park.
Bronze in the women's four
Rowing from fifth into third, the crew seemed to struggle with the tailwind chop for the first part of the race, but, according to Sara Field and Wendy Wilbur, made a few technical calls that gave them some free speed (one "Call" was to relax, although that one may have been shouted in delirium; another was for "loose grip," which seemed to work very well).
Once the crew started to move on the British crew, the crew became far more confident, and broke loose of the Brits for the bronze. Wilbur said that, once they got a taste of the medals, they weren't going to give anything away.
The crew placed sixth in the B final, but lodged a protest after picking up weeds early in the race. There's a lot on the line; only the top five earn olympic slots. At this writing, the protest was rejected, but is in appeal. There may be some issues of expediency on the part of the jury in these cases, as the implications of rerows are hardly attractive.
LW Men's Four
The crew placed fourth in an extremely close B final, grabbing a guaranteed olympic slot.
LW Men's Pair
After a delay of several hours due to boat damage, the crew went out to row in a five-boat B final; I'm not quite sure what happened to the sixth boat. Although they were in the hunt for at least half the race, the crew placed fourth of the five, for tenth overall.