Thursday, March 21, 2013

Racing Underway at the Sydney World Cup!

So today kicked off World Cup racing for Team USA here in Sydney, and we are so excited to finally get out there and go after a week of acclimating and training!

Sunrise at the regatta earlier this week.

This morning, we were the very first race of the World Cup in our 4x heat. I couldn't have asked for a more amazing boat to be a part of, with Elle Logan in stroke, Susan Francia sitting in front of me, and Megan Kalmoe rounding things out in the bow. As far as atmosphere, there's quite a bit of it at the moment, as there is a controlled burn brushfire somewhat nearby and we've had some spectacular sunrises and sunsets (as well as a little haze) at the course.

View of the brushfire from our hotel.

As with any regatta, we had a few wait-around moments--officials figuring out where the bow numbers were, a last-minute photo ID check--but got in a solid warm-up and headed up to the start excited to see what we could put together for our first piece together as a crew. Lots of good things and lots to work on, but we met our goal of crossing the line first and heading straight to the final on Sunday. Like many of our competitors here, all of us in the 4x are racing other events, so the idea of having one fewer race added to that pile made the one direct-qualifying spot (if possible) an even more definite goal!

Off the start in the 4x.  Photo: Detlev Seyb/MyRowingPhoto.com.

We headed straight for the dock, weighed our boat, set it in slings, and went into intense recovery mode. The World Cup schedule has been greatly compressed because of the Australian National Championship Regatta and the smaller number of competitors, so whereas racing would normally run from maybe 8am-1pm and then 4-6pm for repechages, all morning races were condensed into 8-10am. That meant that Megan and I had a luxuriously long break compared to Elle and Susan--our second race wasn't til 9:30, whereas the two singles were racing at 9:12 and 9:18! We had enough time to grab a snack, go to the bathroom, and stretch, and then it was time to head back out again.

Megan and I launched and did a quick tune-up warm-up, since we were still quite "warm" from our race. This was my first international race in a small boat, and I have really been looking forward to the experience and opportunity to learn that will come from this regatta. Having a double partner who has as much international experience in that boat as anyone on our team--and who is helping me learn a ton every practice--has made this an amazing experience so far. Our race results were not what we had hoped, but it also was a great first race because it gave us so many things to improve in the repechage tomorrow.

Susan off the start in the single.   Photo: Igor Meijer/FISA. 

This afternoon, we're all resting up. Elle and Susan had great races in the 1x, with Susan taking a strong third in her heat, and Elle putting together an incredible piece and winning her heat to go straight to Sunday's final! I am so impressed with both of these women--both of their first international races in the 1x, and Elle's FISA sculling debut, and they are doing incredible things. So pumped for USA sculling!

Caroline and Meghan in the pair.  Photo: Detlev Seyb/MyRowingPhoto.com.

In sweep racing, Caroline and Meghan won their heat in the pair to advance directly to the final Sunday, and the men's eight finished second in their race for lanes. We're all dialed in here at the hotel, watching the women's eight's heat, as well as the men's Australia National Championships final in the straight fours.

The live race tracker for all races can be found here: http://www.worldrowing.com/live-results?type=live, and Sunday's live streaming for finals can be watched here (check to see specifics for your country, which may include pre-registering): http://www.worldrowing.com/video.

Finally, I want to give a big shout-out to our only other fellow Americans here in Sydney, the junior women's eight from Saratoga, coached by the awesome Eric Catalano. These girls are blazing fast on the water and crushed their final today by more than a length of open water (and they have some pretty sweet gear!) Way to drop the hammer, ladies!!!

Teams USA earlier this week!

Thanks so much for supporting us back home, and Go USA!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Seeing the Sights (and Baby Wallabies!!!) in Sydney!


USA women in Sydney!

Yesterday, we had an awesome Sydney adventure—in just a few hours, we managed to check off all of my non-racing-related to-dos for the trip! We (very briefly) walked through the 2000 Olympic Park, took a ferry through the Sydney Harbor and saw the Sydney Opera House, and stopped by a wild animal park on the way home and got to see some kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, and incredible birds, very up close!

The USA ladies visit the 2000 Sydney Olympic stadium!

After starting the day off with some solid racing pieces, we packed up into a small bus with some of our fellow racers from South Korea and Portugal and headed out to quickly see the sights! First stop was the 2000 Sydney Olympic Park and athlete village. Giant statues of the Olympic symbols--a runner and others--towered overhead, and we maneuvered around the dozens of columns in front of the athletic stadium, trying to find US teammate names!

Couldn't have picked a prettier day to cruise into Sydney!

Then it was back into the bus and off to a ferry that took us through the beautiful Sydney Harbor--lined with amazing houses, yacht and boat clubs, and natural and historical parks--right up to the Sydney Opera House and the Financial District/downtown! We got in a bit of sightseeing and souvenir-ing before it was time to take off again.

Baby wallaby!!!!!!!!

This time, we headed to a wild animal park, and we were SO EXCITED to get to see real Australian wildlife up close--REALLY close! As we got off the bus, a park guide handed me a swaddled up baby wallaby, which was about the cutest thing I'd ever seen. We also got to see kangaroos (with joeys!), kookaburras, echidnas, ghost bats, and everything Aussie in between.




Emus are startlingly large! But friendly, if slightly aggressive. I also saw the most brightly colored bird ever--wow! Thankfully, the animals were incredibly friendly. It was amazing to get to see so many awesome creatures up close!







Finally, it was time to head home--our friends from Portugal and South Korea had another training session, and we were all pretty wiped from the adventures! Many thanks to the Sydney International Rowing Regatta (SIRR) and World Rowing/Sydney Rowing World Cup organizing committees for planning this trip for us. What a great glimpse into Sydney and Australia, and an awesome chance to meet some of our fellow international racers, before we get into straight racing mode this week!

Power naps for everyone!

Thanks for following our journey, and Go USA!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Australia is AUS-some!



My view from the office...first row on the 2000 Olympic Course!
 We’ve now made it through our first couple of days here in Australia, and it’s AWESOME! (AUS-some?) It’s warm, people are friendly, the course is beautiful, and I've made friends with a tiny kangaroo!

Mike Gennaro, aka Tiny Kangaroo. Team USA in Sydney Airport!
Okay, maybe not that last bit, but we are really having a great trip, and I couldn’t be more excited to race. After a 35-hour-long trip to get here (DC -> Princeton -> Newark -> Los Angeles -> Sydney -> Penrith), I was pretty toasted. But after a bit of acclimation and a couple of great night’s sleeps, we’re more than recovered!

Warm-up jog with the crew!

Penrith, where we’re staying, is home to the 2000 Sydney Olympic rowing venue, as well as the Penrith Panthers rugby team. Hopefully we’ll get to see a proper rugby game the last day we’re here, since we’re literally across the street from the stadium!

Pretty average weather here.
When we went for our warm-up run the first day at the course, I had such a strange sense of déjà vu. I realized that three of the races I’ve watched hundreds of times—the men’s pair of Andrieux and Rolland (and Sebastian Bea and Ted Murphy!), the men’s and women's single sculls, and the men's eight—they were all raced on this course! It’s really brought a lot of enjoyment to the rows down the course to be thinking about this marker as being where one crew or another began their amazing sprint, and even just remembering all the history that’s happened on this racecourse.


The other notable thing so far about Australia has been the bird life. Our coach (and hero), Laurel, raced here in at the 2000 Games, and she told us as we were waiting at the airport that what she remembered most were the “startlingly loud” birds. She wasn’t kidding…they have the craziest calls and whether it’s a solo crow or the huge flock of parrots that sleep in the tree next to our hotel, the volume is unbelievable. Thankfully, though, they do occasionally sleep, so we can, too!

I’ll be posting more photos and videos soon! Thanks for supporting us and GO USA!

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Australia Adventure Begins!

Who's excited?!?  Photo: Grace Luczak.
Our trip to Australia is officially underway--writing from the LAX airport, where we have a four-hour layover (we headed out of Newark early this afternoon) before we take the real flight, a fourTEEN-hour whammy straight to Sydney!

Everyone's excited to see teammates who've been training around the country and who we haven't gotten a chance to see in several months. There are plenty of new faces, too, but everyone's really pumped to head over and race for the first time in awhile.

I'll be updating my blog here with our adventures, but you can also see inside photos and blogs from me and other athletes heading to/already in Australia on my SHIVSPIX.com page. Check it out!

Thanks as always for your support, and GO USA!
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