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Gold and Bronze for the United States Eights at the 2013 World Rowing Championships

by Ed Moran, ed@usrowing.org | Sep 01, 2013
Earlier this year, when the winter was just setting in, the United States rowing team laid out a plan for the coming Olympic cycle – focus the available resources and energy on the boats they believed could win medals in world competition.
CHUNGJU, South Korea – Earlier this year, when the winter was just setting in, the United States rowing team laid out a plan for the coming Olympic cycle – focus the available resources and energy on the boats they believed could win medals in world competition.

When the selection camps ended and the racing season got going, it became clear the U.S. was on the right path. At the last world cup in Lucerne, the U.S took a team of new faces and young coaches to Europe and brought back eight medals. No one expected to repeat that performance at the 2013 World Rowing Championships in Chungju, South Korea, but the goals set way back in January were exceeded.

Sunday, on the final day of racing, two U.S. crews nailed tight the details of that plan.

The women’s eight won gold for the eighth-consecutive year and the men’s eight followed with a bronze medal – the first world championship or Olympic medal for the men in the event since the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

“I am thrilled,” said women’s eight coxswain Katelin Snyder. “I’m thrilled and honored to be here. I feel like the racing is a culmination of what we do all year, and for me that’s really special because we put in so much work. It’s just so great and so good to be able to show off everything we’ve done all year.”

As it has been for the past eight years, the women’s eight was one of the highlight events of the regatta. They came here with only one returning London Olympian, one senior team veteran, and a very young crew that had not only won in Lucerne, but set a new world best time.

The crew lost stroke Heidi Robbins (Hanover, N.H.) in Chungju to a back injury suffered before competition and a second Olympic London gold medalist was brought into the boat. Meghan Musnicki, who was already rowing in the pair was put in, and the lineup was reshuffled.

In the opening heat of the regatta, the newly reformed crew of Snyder (Detroit, Mich.), Caroline Lind (Greensboro, N.C.), Vicky Opitz (Middleton, Wis.), Musnicki (Naples, N.Y.), Grace Luczak (Ann Arbor, Mich.), Lauren Schmetterling (Moorestown, N.J.), Emily Regan (Buffalo, N.Y.), Kerry Simmonds (San Diego, Calif.) and Amanda Polk (Pittsburgh, Pa.) did what every Tom Terhaar-coached boat has done since 2006. They dominated.

The crew repeated that performance here today, pushing a bow ball out ahead of the field by 250 meters in, and then just inching away the length of the 2,000-meter race, winning in 6:02.14, nearly five seconds ahead of second-place Romania.

Romania finished in 6:07.04 and Canada was third in 6:09.34.

“This doesn’t get old. It’s winning the world championship. It’s definitely an amazing experience,” said Musnicki, who collected her fourth gold medal in the eight.

“It was great. It was so fun to feel the rhythm from all of our teammates, including the one in the stands, Heidi Robbins, who was supporting us the whole time,” said two-time senior national team member, Luczak.

“We knew that it was going to be really tough off the start and everybody was going to try and gun it. It’s the finals. Everyone is going for it. We just we had to stick in our boat, keep our heads together and go with the race plan.”

Following them to the medal stand was the U.S. men’s eight crew of coxswain Zach Vlahos (Piedmont, Calif.), Thomas Peszek (Farmington Hills, Mich.), Thomas Dethlefs (Lawrenceville, N.J.), Steve Kasprzyk (Cinnaminson, N.J.), Austin Hack (Old Lyme, Conn.), Ambrose Puttmann (Cincinnati, Ohio), Nareg Guregian (North Hills, Calif.), Ross James (DeKalb, Ill.) and Ian Silveira (West Bloomfield, Mich.), who took on defending Olympic champion Germany, Poland, Great Britain, France and The Netherlands.

The racing was tighter than the result sheet shows. On paper, the U.S. fell into last place off the line and stayed there through the first quarter of the race. In reality, they were always in contact, and no boat had cleared the pack.

Great Britain did lead for the entire length, but the U.S. moved through Poland, The Netherlands and France and claimed third place, right behind Germany. Great Britain won in 5:30.35, Germany was second in 5:30.89 and the U.S was third in 5:33.92.

“We’re really proud of where we are starting this (Olympic quadrennial) to finally come here and get a medal and earn it,” said Peszek, who finished ninth in the pair in London last summer and was stroking this boat.

“We’re certainly not content with it and we’re looking forward to progressing on as these next four years go. We’re proud of the effort we’ve put forth, and the work we’ve done and I think we’ll get a little time off and get back to work and keep building speed.”

It’s all part of the plan.

In the boats that became the focus, the United States won four medals and advanced four others to the finals. In non-Olympic events, the U.S. brought home an additional four medals.

“In January, I had to set our goals out there and our goals were basically two medals in the women’s program with one more boat in the finals, and one medal in the men’s program with one additional boat in the finals,” said USRowing’s High Performance Director, Curtis Jordan.

“We exceeded that,” he said. “It was pretty clear we were going to exceed that after that great performance in Lucerne. I didn’t expect to come here and do exactly what we did at Lucerne. Lucerne was a very important regatta for us this year. Especially with young coaches and a young team, and we knew that this would be pretty stiff here.

“So to come away with what we’ve done, four medals in the Olympic events, four more medals in the non-Olympic events, I feel very, very good with that,” Jordan said.

Starting the day in the finals was the lightweight men’s four crew of Robin Prendes (Miami, Fla.), Anthony Fahden (Lafayette, Calif.), Robert Duff (Huntingdon Valley, Pa.) and Will Daly (Vail, Colo.).

It was the first U.S. lightweight men’s four to reach an A final since 2000, but it was as far as it would go this year. Rowing against defending Olympic champion South Africa, Denmark, France, Great Britain and New Zealand, the U.S. fell behind in the first 500 meters and could climb no higher than fifth.

Denmark won gold in 5:55.68. New Zealand was second in 5:57.28. Great Britain was third in 5:59.98 and the U.S. crossed fifth in 6:05.89.

In the women’s single sculls, Eleanor Logan (Boothbay Harbor, Maine), who took up the single after winning her second Olympic gold medal in the women’s eight in London, went up against a world-class field of women scullers including, double London medal winner, Kim Crow of Australia, New Zealand’s Emma Twigg, reigning Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic, Austria’s Magdalena Lobnig and Inge Janssen of The Netherlands.

Logan rowed a strong and steady race, but was not fast enough to reach the medals. She finished fifth in 7:42.56. Crow won gold in 7:31.34, while Twigg was second in 7:33.57 and Knapkova was third in 7:36.88.

With the win in the women’s four, and the silver medals in the lightweight women’s double and quadruple sculls, it was a good start to the new cycle for the women’s team.

“It was great,” said U.S. head women’s coach Tom Terhaar. “It was great (for the eight), considering the difficulty that happened earlier in the week. I’m glad everything worked out.

“There’s a lot of success all the way through,” he said. “You’ve got Bertko and Hedstrom in the double. (Logan) making the final for the first time ever in the single. That’s huge. The pair was close to a medal and the quad, it was actually very good for the quad, as far as that race goes.

“The straight four winning was nice, because they are a bunch of young kids. So yeah, it’s great. We have a lot of athletes that are going to be very competitive over the next four years.”

The U.S. also raced for placement in two B finals on Sunday.

In the men’s double sculls, John Graves (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Benjamin Dann (Pound Ridge, N.Y.) rowed against Denmark, Great Britain, Cuba, Serbia and Australia and finished fourth for 10th place overall.

The women’s double sculls crew of Ellen Tomek (Flushing, Mich.) and Meghan O’Leary (Baton Rouge, La.) raced Korea, Ireland, Ukraine, Russia and Italy and won, finishing seventh overall.

Complete results and medal counts are available at www.worldrowing.com.

For full event press coverage and photo galleries, visit:
http://www.usrowing.org/Pressbox/Inteventcoverage/13worldscoverage.aspx.

About USRowing
USRowing is a nonprofit organization recognized by the United States Olympic Committee as the governing body for the sport of rowing in the United States. USRowing’s official suppliers include Vespoli, WinTech, Filippi, Croker Oars, Rudy Project, Concept2, Nielsen Kellerman, and Ludus Tours. USRowing also receives generous support from the National Rowing Foundation and its corporate sponsors and partners ANXeBusiness Corp, EMCVenues, Connect-A-Dock, JanSport, Rudy Project and Boathouse Sports. For more information, visit www.usrowing.org. The USRowing National Team program relies on strong partnerships to enable continued success. New opportunities exist to support the teams through the next quadrennial, culminating with the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. America Rows, which supports diversity in rowing and the USRowing adaptive programs also benefit from corporate support. Free basic membership and championship level membership to USRowing is available and encouraged. For more information, please contact Beth Kohl at beth@usrowing.org.
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