Well, the conditions are certainly fast at these Worlds; the big crosstail off of the starboard side kept coming today, leading to another five new world records to add to yesterday's nine. A bunch of records have been broken a couple times, and in almost every imaginable race, from A finals to B finals to semis to, of course, C finals. Whew.
The medals table for the 2014 Worlds is taking shape and a bit more heft and interest with every race that comes down the course. At the close of racing Saturday, Great Britain led the total medal count with eight, followed by Germany at seven, the United States at six, and Australia and New Zealand at five.
For the US to bag six medals even before the eights race is probably an unusual feat; anyone care to send a previous Saturday medal count analysis? For now, it's on to the racing.
Before the semis, a US coach headed up to the start to watch what the coach described as "the best pair in the regatta," Glover and Stanning from GB. After today, they are the fastest pair in history to boot, having set a new world record by three seconds.
Which means also that the silver medalist US pair of Megan Kalmoe and Kerry Simmonds broke the old world record as well (their 6:52.87 bested the old time of 6:53.8 by just under a second). The so-called "Husky pair," both graduates of the University of Washington, leaned on their experience rowing the pair in UW's longtime pairs rowing program. Even then, Megan Kalmoe said that given her more recent experience in the sculling boats, and even in the eight this summer, she is still surprised to be on the medals podium in the pair.
"I would never have guessed this (winning a medal in the pair)," she said. "But thinking back to my days as a Husky where the pair was such a staple of our day to day college training - to my college self – this would blow me away. So it was really fun to have a chance to row with someone who also has that same connection to that pair from Washington. It is a really unique and really fun experience. We did not overlap at Washington at all, but we have that common love/hate for the pair and really enjoying training/racing."
"This summer has been amazing just being able to work in the pair," Simmonds said. "Kalmoe makes it easy to be stroking and still work on things, so I feel like I learned a lot and became a better rower. And just working with Kalmoe has been awesome."
The Kiwi Pair pulled off a truly rare feat, bagging a double pairs gold that also bagged them world records in both pair events. Today they didn't break their own world record of 6:08.5, but that time is already so ridiculously fast for a men's pair that it isn't surprising it didn't fall, despite the very large margin – especially a day after the same two guys set a world record in the lead sled.
The US pair was really in the hunt for a long time, but the conditions were not at all on their side, as they were out in lane 6 in the wind shadow, and after crossing the 1000 in bronze medal position, fell back to sixth by the finish line.
Interview with Murray and Bond
Murray: It is a major achievement for us, and we have to be really humbled by the fact. We put ourselves on the line, and put our unbeaten streak on the line to go out there and try to win two events, and we managed to achieve it. We did pretty well today; I'd say we were a little bit down on the energy levels because we've done so much racing, but we still managed to put it together, and we rowed really well. I think that is the biggest thing is that we probably raced to our potential of what we could do today, and came away with a victory.
Did it make a difference for you rowing the other event?
Bond: Hard to say, you know you don't ever control what the person is doing who is doing only one race. The British pushed really hard, and pushed to the 1000 right beside us, and even when we got passed them, we never really felt like we had them broken. Sometimes you get through a crew and you feel as though you had done enough, and that would be the end of them, but they held in there and came pushing. So it was really up to us to hold our bundle together and get to the finish line.
How happy are you with the result?
Bond: It was pretty satisfying.
Murray, laughing: He doesn't really show it ever!
Bond: You know, yesterday people were saying you must be really pleased with what you have done, and we were pleased, but also in the back of your mind, as pleased as we were, it could all come undone today, so really pleased to knock it off.
How did your legs hold up in this one?
Murray: Pretty good, really.
Did you have any moment where your legs were saying "ahhh, I don't know about this!?!"
Just after the 500, where normally we make a big move – well, we don't really make a big move, but everyone else slows down – but today the British really seemed to hold their pace in that second five (hundred), and so did the Germans, and we just took a little bit longer to really make the break from everyone. So once we went through we knew we were able to do it, but I guess maybe a little bit flat and we weren't really able to step it right out and go through.
Doubling is tough then?
It is tough; when you look at what Pinsent and Cracknell did in 2001, I'd never ever do it on the same day. No way. You know, take my head off first.
Light Men's Double
John Smith, the stroke of the South African double, was also the bow seat light men's four that won with a big sprint at the Olympics, and it served him well again today as the double pipped the French double that had led the race for the entire way, truly until the last stroke. The South Africans almost didn't pull it off, though, and the crew sure didn't know.
And how would you know when the final medal times were as follows:
South Africa 6:05.360
Things got a little more spread out from there, but the light men's double remains one of the most competitive and deep events of the regatta, and always provides some intrigue. Read our interview with the US LM2x here.
Light Women's Double
Another world record fell in the LW2x as the NZ crew – a record that had been set earlier today in the B final by the Great Britain double, who had missed the A final mostly by virtue of a crab very near the finish line in the semis. New Zealand got themselves out on the field fairly early after being able to get past South Africa, and it was a good thing they did, because the sprinting crews that came up behind them were really hauling, especially the Canadian crew.
The Canadian light double did yet another windup today, coming from a fairly distant fourth at the 1000 to barrel up into the silver medal position at the finish. The crew has made a mark as a great sprinting crew, having crushed a sprint at Worlds in 2011, at Lucerne this year, then again in the semis this week, and then again here in the final. I asked the crew if they enjoy waiting that late to start their way through the field.
"Well, I think that time we made it less late today, so that was good! " laughed bow seat Lindsay Jennerich. "I knew that whatever rhythm we get on, good or bad, it sticks. So when we had a good one right away and we weren’t dropped at the first five, I felt I had such a fun race from there on in, because I knew we were going to get on the podium, because we didn’t get dropped (at the start)."
I asked if it is scary to race from behind like that all the time.
"Not for us!" stroke Patricia Obee said.
"No, it’s a lot of fun," Jennerich added. "We know our pace, so if people want to try to go farther out, then it's okay. Patricia set an amazing rhythm, which gave me a lot of confidence that we’d pull through. When you’ve got that kind of rhythm, you can do anything. We just didn't win!"
The US and Great Britain were side by side in the heat the other day, and were side by side again today – and nearly the very same race developed. In the semi, the US was closer for longer, so it is fair to assume the British crew adjusted a bit for the final – but the relative splits are pretty similar. The Brits fulfilled their position as the favorite down the track, shadowed closely by a game US crew as the two left most of the rest of the field behind.
Read our interviews with the four here.
Germany really has this event in hand at the moment, winning the race by open water over China and then the US, and beating the world record by almost three seconds despite the big margin.
The US women's quad is a very young boat, not only in terms of times on the national team – two are US team first-timers, and none of them have rowed in an Olympic event before – but also in terms of time in sculling boats, as most of them have started sculling only in the past year or so. In fact, Felice Mueller and Olivia Coffey, who did row at Worlds last year, did so in the four. And even this summer, the group had been in different boats at the Aiguebelette World Cup. To get together toward the end of the summer, then show up and medal in the women's quad at Worlds, well, let's say that was a pretty steep learning curve.
But the US training center coaches' emphasis on rowing all kinds of different boats in all kinds of different lineups seems to be clicking into place of late (see Megan Kalmoe's comments above for more evidence of this). Felice Mueller talked about the race, and also a little bit about the challenges of switching from sweep to sculling, which (in my opinion anyway) are sometimes overstated.
"I’m so proud of the girls and what we were able to accomplish today," she said. "We just started hard and kept going as hard as we could, and hoped that the wheels wouldn’t fall off. We’re all pretty new to sculling and this left hand isn’t used to feathering so it was a little… I was a little worried coming through the end, but it was great.
"I think sculling is much more technical than sweep rowing, but in the case of all of us, I think we used our strength as our strength. There are lots of different ways to come by speed, and for us I think just pushing really hard is what we have to do to get that out.
"One of our strengths on the US team is that we train in so many different boats, and switching from the pairs to the singles to the eight to the quad, we know how to work to change things for each boat. The quad is really different from any boat I have ever been in, but trying to work on being adaptable is something that I think our team does really well.
In the last race of the day, the Ukrainian men's quad won with still another world record, which is all the more impressive due to the hardships the crew and their country have experienced in recent months. Many crews talk about wanting more international experience; the Ukrainian crews had almost none this year due to the well-known and ongoing events in their country.
Stroke Ivan Dovgodko noted Ukraine's ongoing issues after the race.
"Last year was the hardest, because we train a lot of time to race very little," he said. "We had only one race at the European Championship; usually we can do more but not now because we have a problem in our country. I was hopeful that we will win because we have a strong and powerful preparation for the races. We wanted to go hard from the first strokes and to take the lead all the time. We wanted to come through, that's all."
The US men raced in the B final, placing eighth – which next year will be the all-important cut-off for Olympic qualification.
Notes from the course
- The Dutch organizers promised a lot of crowds come the weekend, and folks definitely came through; even for the Saturday morning C and D finals, and with rain predicted and materializing to boot the FanZone and Picknick areas were bursting with people (and open bars ).
- You can walk all the way to the start; lots of folks took nice strolls up
- Photobombs happen even at a World Championships
- How about selfies? There is an epic photo that is going into the "Send a selfie, best one wins a tshirt" contest they have been plugging all week over the PA; we will post if it wins.
- Men's four stern pair switched sides on way home, maybe leave the lineup the way it was
- Check out this crop of the RSA speed coach (originally in this photo) – all you need to know!! 45 ½ strokes per minute, 1:25 split, 1926 meters down, 5:57.1 elapsed time. 68 and 68a
- Are you ready for 2017?
- The last time we saw this guy on row2k, he had an Emmy in his hand
- Doctor taking a peek
- Coach Stompo showing some local color here and here
- Lot going on here
- Forest creepers!
- This photo remind anyone of a tattoo?
- Dimples for days
- The GB four has lots of babies; here and here
- The LM2x was at first declared a dead heat before GB was given the nod over CZE; the crews came together on the water to meet
- Instead of the traditional one finger, Eric Murray raised two after winning the straight pair and the coxed pair
- Murray also has a new landing strip beard going
- Speaking of landing strips, passengers on a 747 checking out the women's quad A final
- Mike Gennaro was rocking some 'Cuse socks
- This is Sparta!
- A true American hero