Tuesday, August 30, 2011

One Down, One to Go in Bled!

USA W8+ out of the blocks!   Photo courtesy Allison Frederick, USRowing

Yesterday, we had our first race, and it was both a solid piece and a good starting point for us to build on. We lined up against Great Britain (who we raced a month or two ago at Henley, and who a few of the women in the boat had raced against in Lucerne), Germany, and Ukraine. It's funny that racing at Henley was on my mind, because the starting area here is also packed with spectators--something very rare at a World Championships (usually the coaching bike peloton are the only spectators!) But just like at Henley, it doesn't matter what's happening around you as soon as you're locked into the blocks and ready to race.

The racing switched to eight-minute centers yesterday to try to alleviate some of the launch wakes, but there was still a lot to do back in bow pair as we went through some bumps in the first 500 meters. However, we were all focused in on our race plan, and executed it from start to finish. It's great to be dialed in to one another, and I think we're all looking forward to building off of this race and finding another gear.

We also had a lot of fun yesterday on the bus playing with stickers. (Yes, we were a bit loopy when we came down for our second row!) My mom brought some obnoxiously American stickers--sparkly, patriotic, and purchased at Walmart--and we decided to see if we could "tag" other rowers on the overcrowded bus without them noticing. At first, it was just our fellow teammates, but then we got bold and moved on to the Greek lightweights sitting next to us. They really got into it--one of the women gave her (male) teammate sitting in front of her a big hug, surprising him enough to sneakily stick one on the back of his shirt. Susan did well too, putting a "Happy 4th of July" sticker on a cheerfully oblivious Danish lightweight guy. I also tagged a Chinese rower from the men's eight, who tried to tag me back for the rest of the bus ride. It's great how silliness doesn't have any language barriers!

The best, though, was our ride back, when we were on a much emptier bus. We tried to tag the Australian men's eight, but they were not amused. So instead, Susan and I launched a sticker attack against the guy sitting behind us--Matthew Pinsent! Unbeknownst to us, he put all of those stickers on my back, which we didn't realize until we were off the bus and headed back to the hotel! However, we did run into him in the mini-mart a few minutes later, and luckily had a few stickers left...although he was very careful to get in a different check-out line, we managed to make the last tag of the day a good one.

This morning, we got to sleep in, and get to cheer on our teammates racing today in reps. On the adaptive side, we're pulling for ASW1x Tricia Downing, ASM1x Ron Harvey, TAMix2x Anthony Davis and Jacqui Kapinowski, and LTAMix4+ Alex Stein, Eleni Englert, Emma Preuschl, Andrew Johnson and Eric McDaniel. After that, it's M2x Tom and Pete Graves, LM4- Will Daly, Ryan Fox, Robin Prendes and Anthony Fahden, W4x Megan Kalmoe, Adrienne Martelli, Natalie Dell and Stesha Carle, M2- Tom Peszek and Justin Stangel, and W2x Kate Bertko and Sarah Trowbridge.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's Time for Bled!

Racing is finally underway this morning here in Bled! The whole city is literally abuzz with the regatta. The announcer's booming voice can be heard over the whole lake. The starting line is just feet away from our hotel window. And the racing is on every TV and computer screen! It feels a bit like waiting to start your race at C.R.A.S.H.-B.'s...you're ready to race, but you're also never able to stop thinking about the fact that you're going to be racing!

We've seen nearly the full spectrum of weather since we've been here--the week started out HOT and sunny, then warm and windy, and then a huge thunderstorm yesterday, perhaps trying to give us a small dose of Hurricane Irene? It's calmed down a lot, but more weather will be rolling in by the end of the day--more challenges for all the small boats starting racing today!
The view from my office...
The course, town, and buses have all filled up in the last two days. This morning, we were joking that our odd-fitting USA team jerseys were the reason we were almost run over by crews at both ends of the course--they must have wanted to see them up close for themselves! We finally escaped the ITA LM8+ that seemed intent on clashing oars. The bus ride back had a bit more breathing room than this morning's: we were so jammed in that the doors wouldn't close, when the UKR W4x decided that that was the sign to also get on!
On the bus, everyone gets a bit of the your elbow-to-my head move...
We haven't had too many adventures here--we're in racing mode, so it's mostly just lounging around our hotel rooms...or around the hotel lobby...or eating...or sleeping. We're sharing a hotel with the Kiwis and Aussies, and even though the seating in the dining room is separated by country, we at least have the "DMZ" of the lobby to catch up with each other. The lobby has also been the source of nightly entertainment--from the "A Minute to Win It"-style show shooting a nail-driving contest to Slovenian folk dancers performing--which makes up for the consistently terrible lounge music playing on repeat. (I love Whitney Houston, but I don't know how many more times I can listen to "I Will Always Love You"!)
Slovenian folk dancers invading the lobby!

I'm rooming with Elle Logan, whom I've had the pleasure of rooming with since 2007. One of our favorite things to do is to watch bizarre Euro MTV music videos; this year's top find has been the slightly scandalous "Love Banana". We may have also watched a bit of the "William and Kate" movie, which was on TV *in English* last night!

Today, it's just watching racing, and our last practice before we start racing tomorrow! We are on tomorrow (Monday) at 11:06am (that's 5:06am Eastern); you can listen to live race audio and follow the live race tracker at http://www.worldrowing.com/live-results, or check results for all races here.

Keep cheering for the USA crews--great racing so far today from everyone, with props to our LM1x, W2-, M8+, and M4x, who all qualified for their respective A/B semifinals!

I also put together a slideshow of our trip from Munich to Slovenia and the goings-on so far in Bled:

That's all from Bled for now. Go USA!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Allo! Wir sind in München!

We arrived this morning bright and early in Munich, greeted by cool temperatures, much-needed coffee, and perhaps the best "Welcome" sign I've ever seen!

yes, those are real pretzels!
 So maybe that sign wasn't for us, but we were greeted enthusiastically by team boatman Andreas (sadly, sans German-style Bieber-lookalike assistant Marcel.) After a quick stop by our hotel, we were off to the racecourse to rig our boats and go for a quick paddle.

Look out, Susan! I think that's a shark...
Most of our men's team has been here for a few days already, and the non-camp boats will be joining us soon. One of the really fun things about Worlds is getting to catch up with teammates and coaches who've been training across the country. By the time racing starts, the USA will have over 100 athletes, coaches, and staff in town...the evening "training table" with everyone is always filled with great conversation and antics.

Poster from the '72 Olympic Games...no women rowing yet!
Our first rows over here have been pretty solid--we've made a few minor tweaks to the equipment and the lineup, and practices have been going well. The course here (the Rowing venue from the 1972 Munich Olympics) is very blocky and utilitarian, but the water is also crystal clear, and the weather has been sunny and calm. We even got to cool off a bit after practice--a little dip is the anti-jet lag!

ice baths can be fun!
We'll keep settling into the rhythm here and getting adjusted to everything. Yesterday we also enjoyed watching the live video of the Pan American Games trials-congrats to Margot, Meg, Ken, and everyone else on their wins yesterday! That's all from Munich for now...off to dinner!

Oh, and you can see a slideshow from our first few days in Germany here: