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Posts Tagged ‘selection’

**UPDATE!!** Shortly after I added this blog post, I received an invitation to travel to the London Games as a spare. I’m thrilled… even if I can’t race, I’m excited and honored to support my teammates/best friends in their Olympic preparations.  The Dream lives on! Go Team USA!

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2nd at Trials… (photo by Alison Frederick)

Last Thursday, I had the chance to finally punch my ticket to London: all I had to do was finish first in the pair at the USRowing Olympic Trials. We had won the “race for lanes” by several seconds on Tuesday, so we knew we had the fitness and strength to pull out another win.  We were strong, we were ready, we were in the best shape our lives. During our warmup, we knew it was going to be a tough race, but we were confident in our ability to push through the pain.

All we had to do was win… and we lost.

What do you do when your best isn’t good enough? I keep on replaying our race in my mind, trying to find that one moment that made the difference, or that single stroke that might’ve boosted our momentum. I think back on all my work in the last few months… maybe I should’ve rested more, or done more sprint work, or lost more weight, or met with the sports psychologist. Maybe I’m in a two week funk. Maybe I never actually recovered from the car accident. Or maybe I just choked. Woulda, shoulda, coulda…  on the one day that mattered, that was the day I faltered, and now another crew is going to London. Kudos to Sarah and Sara— they absolutely raced like champions at Trials. If they bring that relentless mentality to London, they will definitely be a force to be reckoned with.

The official US Olympic roster should be published this evening, there isn’t a single crew in the world who can match the American squad for strength, athleticism, and heart. It’s been an honor to train alongside these women, and I’m proud to call them my teammates. Look out World, here come the Americans.

Thank you to everyone who has cheered for me over the last few years: this is a community effort, and I absolutely could not have made it this far without all your encouragement and support! I’m so so so sorry I couldn’t pull it through for you in the end…

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On a [slightly] happier note, even though my Olympic dream might be over, a different life-long dream was realized last week: namely, to appear in the New York Times. Check out the NYTimes’ coverage of our world record-setting race in Lucerne (I’m not mentioned by name, but I’ll take what I can get…)

The New York Times also published a cool article about rowing in the 6th Floor Blog, in conjunction with the *awesome* photography published in the NYT Magazine.

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An April sunrise on Lake Carnegie. Less than six weeks until the Olympic boat is named!

We have less than three months until the Olympics, and only six short weeks until the boat is named.  It seems that wherever I look, I see reminders that the Opening Ceremonies are just around the corner. This week, I opened up the New York Times travel section to see a full feature on London, the TV networks are starting to run the inspirational patriotic ads, I’m spotting the Olympic rings logo plastered on various credit cards and grocery items, Boathouse Sports (our gear sponsor) arrived in town to take our measurements for the Olympic gear package. I even met the cast of “The Today Show” when they came to the Princeton boathouse for a learn-to-row session with the Princeton varsity– Al, Matt, Ann… the whole gang!  With all the increased publicity and excitement, it’s often a humbling reality-check to realize that there are still 24 very qualified athletes competing for 15 coveted spots.

You’re Fired! Some of my teammates met Donald Trump at the “100 Days Till London!” celebration in Times Square

Healthwise, I’m feeling night-and-day better than I did in San Diego. A capable physical therapist + diligent stretching = a better-than-new rower! The training is intense, the volume is high, but I know I’m finally reaching my pre-accident level, whew.  Thank you for all of the positive messages; I’m so grateful to have such a stellar cheering section!

It’s going to be a crazy few weeks for Team USA. I’m typing this blog post at Newark International Airport, where we’re waiting to board our flight to Europe. Some of our teammates raced this weekend at World Cup #1 in Belgrade (see results here!), so we will join them in Breisach, Germany, for two weeks of training and selection.  We’ll then head down to Lucerne, Switz., for World Cup #2 (May 25-27).  Row2k wrote an excellent overview of the Olympic qualifying process for the US crews, you can check it out here.

I’ll try to stay updated with news and photos, but in the meantime, check out some of the media coverage of my talented teammates!

– Natalie Dell’s profile in USA Today
– Mary Whipple’s radio spot on NPR
– Megan Kalmoe named as World Rowing’s “Athlete of the Month”
– Giuseppe Lanzone named “#1 Most Mouth-Watering Male Olympian”  by Ryan Seacrest. com

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A very important weekend for Team USA: the Fall Speed Order, the first official selection event of the Olympic year!

Intense head-racing at the Fall Speed Order! Amanda and I are in the middle boat. (photo by row2k)

  
The Fall Speed Order was composed of two days of racing– a 6km test on the ergometer on Saturday, followed the next day by a 4.5km head race on Lake Carnegie. Sunday’s starting order was determined by our placement on the erg test.

Amanda and I (photo by Allison Frederick)

 
My 6k erg test wasn’t a PR (personal record), but it was still close enough for me to be confident in our race preparations. But thanks to a stellar PR effort from my pair partner, Amanda and I earned the second starting position, in between two very fast and capable boats.  (In a head race, crews are started in a time-trial format with 10-20 second margins, and the fastest overall time wins.)
 
In stroke seat of a pair, I control the steering rudder with my shoe, but I rely on Amanda in bow seat to look around and give me directions. She was a total racing rockstar: she steered us around the course buoys, bridge abuttments, and rogue Canadian geese with the best possible course! (Unlike some mens’ pairs, who had some scarily-close encounters with the Washington St. Bridge! eek!) With two bridges and several turns on Lake Carnegie, good steering could make the difference between winning and losing.
 

3.5km down, 1km to go! (photo by Allison Frederick)

 
Mother Nature was kind to us– no rain, no wind, not even a blizzard! Instead, it was a beautiful, crisp fall morning; absolutely perfect rowing conditions!
 
 Amanda and I are super excited about our second place finish. We still agree that some technical improvements can help us squeeze out those extra seconds needed for a first-place effort, but all in all, it was a great weekend for us!

A perfect day for racing at the Princeton Boathouse

 
You can check out results and racing galleries on US Rowing’s website, here. Go Team USA!
 
P.S. Don’t forget to purchase your Power and Grace Calendar!  Great stocking stuffers!

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And it’s official: selection camp is over, Trials are completed, and we’re Slovenia-bound! Woohoo!  (Check out the USRowing Press Release here

An early morning row in the 8+ (photo by S. Pallat)

Since we returned from Europe, we’ve survived a record-breaking heat wave (100F+ !!), epic summer thunderstorms, intense bouts of seat-racing, an outing in a 4- at Senior Worlds Trials, and my 25th birthday… what a wild four weeks!

Aside from a few sunburns, new blisters, and sore muscles, Team USA emerged from Selection Camp mostly unscathed, and ready to race. Making the World Champ roster was no easy feat:  Team USA’s athlete pool is incredibly talented, which meant that every rower had to fight tooth-and-nail for her spot in a boat. 

Amanda Polk, Taylor Ritzel, Esther Lofgren, Meghan Musnicki, Elle Logan, Mary Whipple, and I all return from last year’s World Champ 8+. We are joined by Susan Francia and Caroline Lind, two incredibly experienced rowers and Beijing gold medalists.

We set out tomorrow for a pre-Worlds training camp in Munich, then we’ll bus down to Bled the following weekend. Racing takes place from Sunday, August 28th to Sunday, September 4th. As of today, it looks like the W8+ will race in heats on Monday morning, the reps on Wednesday, and the Finals on Friday, but the racing schedule will probably change as countries add/withdraw various entries.

Beautiful Lake Bled: Blue water, the Alps, and a fairy-tale castle on an island. SO EXCITED! (photo by Mihael Arčan)

 

Given the strength, experience, and motivation present within our ranks, I know that the American crews will be a force to be reckoned with in Slovenia. Look out, World, here come the Yanks!

You can check out photo galleries, athlete updates, and race results on www.row2k.com. Once racing starts, you access live coverage and race results at www.worldrowing.com.

And finally: good luck to everyone racing at Pan-Am Trials this week!

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World Cup 3 is quickly approaching (July 9-11), and this week’s schedule will be devoted to selecting the US squad that will be racing in Lucerne, Switzerland. Some athletes, such as Gevvie Stone (W1x), or Glenn Ochal and Warren Anderson (M2x), were already selected based on their victories at the National Selection Regattas. For the rest of us, this week brings the full gamut of selection activities– erg tests, race pieces, weigh-ins, seat-racing—the coaches use all possible data to fairly and effectively determine the fastest boats.

For Lucerne, the US women will be racing the 2x, 4x, 2-, and 8+. Will our temporarily-injured athletes be healthy by July? Will athletes double-up in events? The coaches must also grapple with these issues, as they could affect boat line-ups.

Our first major event is tomorrow morning, a 6k erg test! When you only have an erg test every few months, you’ve got to make it count! So think fast thoughts for me tomorrow, and I’ll keep you posted on how things turn out.

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Racing in our new US Training Center unisuits!

This was a big weekend for the pairs: The winner of NSR #2 earns a trip to the world cup race in Bled, Slovenia! If the US crew finishes in the top four at the world cup, then they can theoretically become the Team USA pair for Worlds. Whether or not the coaches will actually nominate the winning pair remains to be seen; after all, Worlds are still five months away…

It was a great day for racing– blue skies, light tailwind, warm weather, perfect! Our goal for this race was to go after it, stroke rate 24, no excuses… and we did! It was an aggressive, solid piece, and boy-oh-boy, did my legs burn! Amanda and I were in Lane 1, so we were especially focused and internal. When I finally glanced out of the boat– at the 1000 mark– we still had contact with Susan and Erin, and we had a length on the rest of the field (which was FOUR BOATS ACROSS). Great racing all around!

So 2nd place overall (hurray!), followed by mandatory drug-testing and a post-race practice. All in all, it was a fabulous morning of racing. Congrats to Susan and Erin, NSR#2 champs!

Check out results at powerhousetiming.com

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