August 31, 2013
CHUNGJU, South Korea - With the 2013 World Rowing Championships coming to a close Sunday, the United States will have four more chances at the medal podium.
Wrapping up the U.S. effort in the first year of the Olympic cycle leading up to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio will be the lightweight men's four, women's eight, women's single sculls and men's eight.
Starting the day in the finals will be 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.).
The U.S. races South Africa, Denmark, France, Great Britain and New Zealand.
South Africa is the defending Olympic champion. New Zealand is unbeaten this year and Denmark took bronze in London and has been a regular medalist since it became an Olympic event in 1996.
The U.S. won bronze in that Olympics, but has not reached the finals since 2000. This year's crew finished third in the heat, advanced to the semifinal out of the reps in second and then sprinted past Italy to reach the final.
The next crew to the line, the women's eight, is favored among the competition. The crew of coxswain Katelin Snyder (Detroit, Mich.), Caroline Lind (Greensboro, N.C.), Vicky Opitz (Middleton, Wis.), Meghan 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.) will be racing Australia, Romania, Canada, Great Britain and The Netherlands.
The U.S. is the defending Olympic champion having won in both Beijing in 2008 and London last summer. No U.S. women's eight crew has lost a world championship since 2006. Coming into Chungju, the U.S. is riding high on a dominating Lucerne win in which it set a new world best time.
In Chungju, however, the crew lost stroke Heidi Robbins (Hanover, N.H.) to back injury in training and the boat had to be reconfigured. Musnicki, who was in the women's London eight that won gold, was pressed into double duty, racing in both the women's pair that finished fourth on Saturday and the eight. Lind, a two-time Olympic champion who was also in the London eight, was moved into stroke.
The U.S. crew did not miss a beat and won the opening heat convincingly and moved straight to the final.
Romania is always a threat. They won their opening heat and beat defending Olympic silver medalist Canada in the heat and in Lucerne. Canada is usually in the mix and this year is no different. They were third at Lucerne.
Next up is women's single sculler Eleanor Logan (Boothbay Harbor, Maine). Since taking up the single after winning her second Olympic gold medal in the women's eight in London, Logan has been a steady performer. She won a bronze medal in the first world cup in Australia, then won U.S. trials before going to Europe where she rowed in the final two world cup stops, taking bronze in Eton and silver in Lucerne.
Logan finished second in her heat behind double London medalist Kim Crow of Australia to advance into the semifinal, and then rowed to a third place finish to advance to the final. She will now race Crow, New Zealand's Emma Twigg, reigning Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic, Austria's Magdalena Lobnig, and Inge Janssen of The Netherlands.
The final event of the regatta is the final of the men's eight. This year's U.S. 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.) will be in the hunt to medal.
They are racing Germany, Poland, Great Britain, France and The Netherlands.
In Lucerne, the U.S. finished first in a stroke-for-stroke battle with the dominant and defending Olympic champion Germany. With one change to the Lucerne crew, the U.S. men came to Chungju looking for the first U.S. medal in the event since winning bronze in the 2008 Olympics.
In the heat, the U.S. did not have its best race, but did manage to finish second behind Great Britain and advance into the final, avoiding the reps.
The Germans, who will look to repeat, won their heat, and will look for a podium performance. Great Britain was fourth in Lucerne, but as their priority crew this year, has three of the four men that won gold in the four at the Olympics last summer.
The Dutch and the French also go to the line with loaded crews and will both be in the mix. The Netherlands won two bronze medals in world cup racing this season, while France has been a regular in the final.
The U.S. will race 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.) finished sixth in their semifinal on Friday. The U.S. faces Denmark, Great Britain, Cuba, Serbia and Australia.
The women's double sculls crew of Ellen Tomek (Flushing, Mich.) and Meghan O'Leary (Baton Rouge, La.) just missed the qualifying spot in its semifinal Friday, finishing fourth. The U.S. crew, coming off of a bronze medal at the 2013 World Rowing Cup #3, will take on Korea, Ireland, Ukraine, Russia and Italy for places 7-12.
For complete event information visit, http://www.worldrowing.com/events/chungju-2013-world-rowing-championships.