We’re All Friends Here…

We’ve got just one day to go until racing begins for the W4X at this year’s World Championships. We are reaching the end of our taper, and as can typically be expected about this time, moods, energy levels, and appetites are completely unpredictable. For the next 24 hours it is our primary responsibility to manage our own individual eccentricities inflicted upon us by the taper in a manner that does not annoy the hell out of those around us. This must be balanced with remaining focused and preparing ourselves to race through rest, hydration, and fueling. For me, appropriate distractions include: writing, iPad video games, reading, endless cups of tea in the lobby with my teammates, naps, and wistfully watching boats practice out on the lake. Others become more reclusive and get lost in books or television series in their rooms with the doors shut. Since this year’s racing schedule is new to most of us, we are also learning to accommodate for some team members being at different points in their racing preparations than others (i.e. some of us race tomorrow, others Monday, some start as late as Thursday).

Outside of our hotel, the race course has come alive. The boatyard is packed, and we sfinally have some other boats on our rack! The course is very busy for practice and apparently bumpy (I am the only one in my boat that has not noticed or been bothered by this). With the influx of bodies to Bled, inevitably this means one thing: full buses.

The bus ride to the course is a standard for just about any World Championships. In Bled we are fortunate to have a very short bus ride compared to, say, last year (45 minutes). We only spend about 5 minutes going to the course and maybe another 10 coming back since we take the long way all the way around the lake coming home. But the bus rides never fail to provide us with entertainment and a variety of distractions in the form of meet and greets with other delegations (intentional or otherwise), general people watching, and the always scenic view out the windows.
Buses leave from the hub every 20 minutes. But with the number of athletes here in Bled, there aren’t many bus rides anymore that aren’t full up, which leads to a pretty cozy feeling going to and from the course. Sometimes this works to our advantage (sharing seats with handsome French and Spanish rowers), sometimes not (the rear end of a hefty, sweaty male coach pressed into the small of my back). But since we’re all in this together, there’s not much you can do except make the most of it, since after all: we’re all friends here…

Example: on today’s return from the course, Stesha had an aisle seat, I had a window. Adrienne was standing in the aisle behind some cute Greek guys. Stesha leaned over and whispered to me: “should I make Adrienne grab this guy’s butt?”

Obviously yes.

With a single deft movement, Stesha swiped Adrienne’s unsuspecting hand through the air and landed a solid but playful hit. Adrienne was mortified. Though the target played it pretty cool initially, it soon became obvious that he had definitely noticed and was discussing amongst his teammates how to respond. Soon, all six of us were smiling and giggling uncontrollably. Another great play for international relations.

The other wonderful multifunction of the bus ride is scouting for this year’s LIST. When provided with a few idle minutes here and there–what else would I rather be doing? So far I’ve ID’ed two or three serious contenders on the bus, as well as having the pleasure of sharing the commute with a few old favorites over the past week. Overall I have to say that things are shaping up quite nicely and I daresay that people should be prepared for some shakeups for this year’s group. It’s going to be GREAT.

Speaking of the List, here is my shattered dream of the day:
After we had racked our boat this morning, I took shade under a nearby top rack shell while we waited for Natalie and Adrienne to return with our oars. While we were waiting, suddenly a few familiar figures appeared, weaving in and out between the overlapping boat decks, and who seemed to be coming right toward me. It was none other than the Canadian Men’s Eight, a boat filled with a number of my very favorite (and dreamiest) athletes from my time as a Husky. I threw all my stuff on the ground so I could give them big, proper hugs, while also making quite a noisy scene with happy greetings and big smiles. I was just sublime seeing them all at once, and all looking so great. Then my coach cleared her throat, and said “Ahem–Kalmoe, I think Mike would like to meet with his boat now.” Ah yes. So they hadn’t come directly across the boatyard just to see me? As it turns out, I had chosen their eight to stand under, and Mike Spracklen was sitting just at the end of the rack, waiting for the men to arrive. Oops. Hope you had a great row, boys! Sorry about that.

Long Live the Dream,

–MK

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2 responses to “We’re All Friends Here…

  1. This is awesome! I love hearing these stories, they are funny and it makes me laugh that the things you do are the same my friends and I fill our time with at regatta :)

    Good luck!! (not that you really need it)

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