No one wanted to be in these reps today – in most cases if you did not advance you were in a much lower final, and also it meant that you were doing a LOT of racing – if you went through the reps in the men's double, you would have to race Monday heats, Tuesday reps , Thursday quarterfinals, Friday semis, and then a Saturday final if you were in the C/D finals, or a Sunday final if in A/B finals (it's worse in the non-Olympic events like the light men's single, which would go Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Eep.
But as pouring rain kicked in as the very first rep of the morning came down the course, you do have to think it ratcheted up the misery index a bit still more for many of the crews.
The conditions did bring with them a striking visage, showing a side of the lake we had not seen yet (see it here, here, and as low clouds dark with water poured into the valley and hovered directly over the racecourse, intermittently dumping rain down on the lanes.
US crews were probably thankful they were pretty scarce today, with only the men's quad and the Trunk and Arms (TA) mixed double in reps, along with the light men's eight racing in the prelim race for lanes in Friday's final. The quad placed third to advance to the A/B semis; the light men's eight placed a close fifth, and the TA mixed double placed fifth and will head to the B Final.
Lightweight Men's Eight
With only five entries, the light men's eights did a "race for lanes" this morning that resulted in all five crews coming across the line within 4.5 seconds.
The US crew, which placed fourth, has very little race experience together; in fact, before today, the only time they have officially pulled into a starting block was for the uncontested trial race; otherwise they have done some scrimmages on the Charles, but nothing more.
"This is our first serious race; we raced Columbia and Harvard before they went to Henley, and the results were good for us there, but this is our first actual race, and it is the first international competition for four of the guys," coach Bruce Smith said. "So having five crews within four or five seconds is good for us."
I asked how the crew went about approaching what FISA terms a "Preliminary" race, commonly referred to as a "race for lanes" in the final - particularly on a course where the likelihood of there being favored lanes is very low, and where there can be a disincentive to show everything you have.
"With no real prior race experience, we go out to race, but every crew out there knows there is not a medal on the line, and there's not a position in the final on the line, so it doesn't bring out people's extra gear," he noted. "So we'll find out on Friday who has the extra gear. I'm sure the Italians are going to come much, much harder."
The crew, which has a double bucket in the two-three and six-seven seats, races next in the A final.
"This boat is a non-Olympic boat that is really here to develop guys for the Olympic classes, and I am super excited that they have a shot at a medal," Smith said. "That's what we're going for."
The first rep of the men's quad was everything we thought it might be; with the World Champ Ukraine quad, defending silver medalist GB, European champs Russia, and a surging Canadian crew in there, a good crew was going to fall. As it played out, all four of those crews were almost dead even toward the end of the course, but with about 20 strokes to go the Russian crew seemed not to be able to maintain the chase, and in the closing strokes, the Russian crew stopped rowing short of the line when they realized their advancement hopes were dashed.
The second, "easier" rep was gnarly early, with all five crews within two-thirds of a length for the first third of the race, and the top four the same well into the third 500.
So it is probably fair to say that the men's quad is far deeper than we have seen for a while; in recent years there have been a number of crews in the event who could threaten for a medal, but perhaps not quite as many who could threaten for a spot in the A final as well as a medal; put more simply, it has gone from deep to really deep.
Based on recent results, this is a little bit of a surprise, so I talked to Ian Silviera of the US quad after the event about the current state of the quad, how some medal contenders are almost certain to be in the C final, and how he and his crew are responding to it – again trying to focus on how elite rowers deal with the things that all rowers will face at some point. The crew raced in a fairly distant fifth in the first 500, but then picked up steam going down the course, moving into fourth at the halfway point, then into the third and last advancing position by about 600 to go.
"I agree it is an extremely deep field," he said. "The way we looked at those two reps, in the first one you have the Ukrainians, the Russians, the British, and Canada. So that is the silver medalists and the gold medalists from last year’s world championships, world record holders; then you have the bronze medalist from the World Cup, and you have the Olympic champions in 2004, you have multiple medalists from World Cups in the Russians. And one of these crews is going to the C Final.
"Then you look at our and it's the same thing. You have the Italians, whose stroke man has been silver medalist at the world championships. Then you have the third place crew from the Lucerne and the Estonians, and again one of those boats is going to the C Final.
"So I think there’s an extreme amount of pressure, and I think we got caught with that a little bit today. I think we were a little nervous, because it is do or die. It’s so early in the regatta, but still if we don’t do it, it’s over. I think that was a lot on our shoulders, something most of us have really never dealt with.
"For example, none of us have ever tried to qualify a boat for the Olympics. One of our guys is his first world championship ever. I think it was an immense amount of pressure, and I think it caught us in the first 500, in that we were too nervous to make a mistake, and we were too nervous to go after it."
The crew faltered in the first 500 as a result, and knew they had to do something.
"It put us in a tight spot, and at that moment we just kind of went internal," he said. "We thought, okay, we know what we can do, and if we pull our race we will start to move on the field."
I asked if there was a call made, or a conscious effort, and Silviera cited what I think is one of the great things about rowing a quad – it may be the "big boat" where you can most really dial in to your boatmates.
"You just feel it," he said. "You feel where you are, and you feel how things are developing around you and you just have to take a deep breath and realize it’s just going to be a 5:40 or so race. You have another four minutes (at the 500), so you have to take a breath, and then you just have to attack it."
At that point, Silviera takes it short sections at a time.
"For me, I just attack it 250 at a time at that point," he said. "What’s the goal for this 250? Row well, row clean, get two seats. Do it, then when it happens, okay, I’ve got the guys behind me backing me up. I can feel their energy and then we just kind of build off each other and rally around one another."
From there, he thinks that the crew may have tapped into something they needed to tap into here in Aiguebelette.
"I think we really found something we can grab onto through that race," he said. "We blew up the nerves in the first 500 and then felt okay, we know we can do this. We’ve done it in our training, we did it in our heat, we know we have speed. We just had a little bit of a misstep. I think it’s okay. It’s good to learn the lessons right now, so that going into the semifinals, once again it’s going to be do or die, but I think we can go into it with a little more confidence thanks to what we were put up against the wall and we managed to figure it out.
"We did want to win that one, and we thought we could," he admitted. "It played out the way it did, and obviously it’s going to be much more difficult now that you have those heat winners (in the semis), but we got the job done which is the most important thing."
Wednesday's racing has a bit of pretty much everything, including prelim/race for lane events, reps, quarterfinals, semis, and even C finals. It's going to be a long and critical day; don't miss it, see you there!
Notes from the course:
|Log in to comment|
There are no Comments yet
row2k's Worlds coverage is brought to you in part by:
row2k's Worlds coverage is brought to you in part by: