The last set of semifinals and reps in the 2018 World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria added medal possibilities for some teams, and saw some athlete's seasons end in bitter disappointment.
Standout results on the recap sheet has the New Zealand women's eight out of medal contention this year after taking the bronze last year in Sarasota, and Canada's women's single sculler Carling Zeeman, out of the running after a disastrous semifinal stroke with 250 to go.
Carling Zeeman after her semifinal
Zeeman, who was third at the Lucerne World Cup, and won her heat in Plovdiv Monday, was pushing to move up into qualifying position from fourth place in the third 500, lost an oar at the 250-meter mark and all but stopped. She regained control and got back into the race enough to finish fifth. But her World Championship campaign ended there.
For the US, the semifinals added more finals to the weekend mix with a win for Ellen Tomek and Meghan O'Leary in the women's double and another strong row from women's single sculler Kara Kohler.
Tomek and O'Leary finished second in their heat and then moved up a place Friday, winning their semifinal and earning a favored lane in the final. They were back on the course in the afternoon for a second row.
Ellen Tomek and Megan O'Leary
"We're really happy with winning the semifinal," Tomek said. "At the end of the day, this is just another step that got us to the A Final and an opportunity to race for a medal," she said. "We're proud of what we've done so far, and are really looking forward to lining up again on Sunday against some incredibly talented crews," added O'Leary.
In the women's single, Kohler won her heat Monday and finished second today behind reigning World Champion Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland. Kohler, who was in fourth through the first half of the race, made a solid push in the second thousand to set herself up for the Sunday final.
"I feel like my learning curve has been pretty steep this summer, and there's a lot to learn with each race, how to pace and build," Kohler said in her post race interview. "I was trying to stay as cool and relaxed as possible," she said. "The semifinal is a pretty terrifying experience to know the A final is on the line."
Closing out the semifinals for the US with a solid row was para men's single sculler Blake Haxton. "I'm just glad to be in the hunt come Sunday," Haxton said. "That was a really tough piece but I'll be looking to clean it up on Sunday."
Ten finals are on the schedule for Saturday, and of those the US will have six crews racing for medals, including the PR2 mixed double, the PR3 mixed four with coxswain, the lightweight women's double, women's four and women's quad.
Of special note, the PR3 women's pair will be racing in the women's pair C final. A late scratch before their heat had them rowing uncontested. FISA decided they could race in the C final, but the para medal remains uncontested and a special medal ceremony will take place between the last C final and the first B final.
Notes From The Course
China makes the notes section with two items: The first was a hiccup in the medal ceremony with the lightweight women's quad. China won, but the first few national anthem bars were not correct. It was promptly stopped and restarted even as the flag was rising.
Speaking of flags, China has an especially big one on hand for the medal ceremonies.
Not to be out supersized by the Chinese flag, FISA's media team has an especially big furry microphone with postrace interviews. It is almost as big as German lightweight single sculler Jason Osborne after he won.
Rowers sometimes switch sides after medal presentations on rows back to the launch and recovery area. Canada's para pair winners did that Friday, switched sides - and promptly hit a buoy.