After waiting around the hotel for a few days, we finally got to stretch our legs and get back to work during this afternoon’s semifinal. We had an excellent draw, which allowed us to line up next to the other medalists from Lucerne (Poland and Bulgaria) whose lineups have also remained unchanged, in order to get an idea of what everyone has been up to over the past few weeks. The good news: everyone has gotten faster. That means that I suspect that our A Final in the double on Saturday is going to be one of the closest races of the day–as there were certainly no gimmes in the first semifinal in our event that went down the course right before us.
Ellen and I had the discussion the other day about our personal preferences for margins in something like a World Championships A Final. Ellen argued that her ideal race would have her dominating the field with clear water between her and the following boats; whereas I argued that a closer, scrappier race between three or more boats for the medal spots makes a World Championship that much more impressive/enjoyable. That’s a debate that I’m sure the rowing community would be happy to ponder for as long as the sport exists, but for now I’m anticipating that regardless of what we would each prefer, on Saturday we’re going to end up having to handle my version of the story given the quality of competitors in our field this year. Six boats across–and whoever crosses the line first is definitely going to have earned it!
But before we can get to that particular bridge, we have another day of rest and recovery (read: waiting around) to prepare for Saturday’s final. That means we will probably resort to one or more of the following activities which have become standards in time-passing for myself and other teammates on this trip:

  • Continuing the “bear vs. shark” debate (“what kind of shark? what kind of bear? is the fight in water, or in outer space?”)
  • Introducing the irresistible magic of Pass the Pigs to even more players (seven converts this trip, and counting)
  • Watching whatever we can get on Eurosport (this will include rowing tomorrow, at least)
  • Listening to “Arthur’s Theme” by Christopher Cross on repeat in the hotel room, with some Bon Jovi mixed in
  • Discussing and elaborating on David Banks’ biographical background of poverty and depravity fabricated by World Rowing
  • Hopelessly attempting the NYT daily crosswords (I have only been helpful on Latin clues so far).
  • Playing Hearts in the lobby. Oddly it is not a group of 80 year old women on the team who do this, but mostly the young, fresh faces on the US Men’s team.
  • As always: working on the List. Spots are filling up fast. I can’t name names, but a few Hearts players might make it.

    It was a long, long day at the race course today–Ellen and I left the hotel around 10:00 a.m. and ended up catching the 5:30 bus back. I was pretty hungry by the time we got back, but I think I escaped the sunburn and dehydration which are the two big ones to avoid when you know you’re going to be outdoors and racing all day. Even still, I’m pretty wiped after a long day of stress and nerves, and I’m pretty sure I’ll finish this up and head upstairs before 9:30 and find Ellen out cold.
    I’m really excited to have made my first senior World Championship A Final, and am glad that the hard work that I’ve put in to this training season has paid off with a shot at a medal. All I’ve wanted all year was an opportunity to line up with the best and see where we are–and on Saturday, that’s what I’m going to do. It’s been a crazy year–I’d like to send it off with our best race yet.

    Finally, a big thank you to the official who yelled to us from one of the course towers during the cooldown to prevent me from decapitating myself and probably demolishing our brand new Empacher hull on the cement overhang. It wouldn’t be a real regatta without a near-miss in the W2X now, would it?
    Speaking of which, I had a brief flashback to Beijing this afternoon watching the CZE W2X casually rolling through the top of the warm up area as their race was being announced at 5 minutes to go. I’m sure they had it under control.

    Good luck to all the USA semifinalists racing tomorrow!

    Long Live the Dream,