Team USA is on the ground in Chungju, and things are going well. The Training Center groups arrived late on Thursday, and have been followed successively by the small boat crews and staff, and we are soon to be joined by our full Para squad. Travel to Chungju was as painless as it could be given the distance we had to cover, thanks to the efforts of our awesome support staff. A solid commute to JFK, 14 hr flight, plus another commute from the Incheon airport to our hotel in Chungju totaled nearly a full day of travel. Team USA handled the travel like champions, and were at the course rigging and rowing the next morning with tired eyes and big smiles.
Unlike many years when the US is often the first team to arrive at the race course because other teams are based at some other European training site prior to the World Championships, we are definitely not alone at Tangeum Lake. We arrived to find Canadian, Belarussian, Portuguese, Korean and Kiwi crews already hard at work, and in the past 24 hours have been joined by more crews from Russia, France, Italy, Great Britain and Croatia. The Lake will only continue to get more crowded as more teams roll in over the next week, and no doubt we will all be having our turn at international relations trying to share the single buoy line we are all using to train while the course remains closed through Wednesday. My impressions of the course and regatta facilities are that they are fresh and modern and will make a great Mission Control for the 2013 World Championships. The course does appear to host a significant and very direct crosswind which has the potential to make racing very unfair, but we will have to see how that all shakes out once racing starts.
Our accommodations are second-to-none. We are staying with Teams GB, Australia and Germany at the IBK (Industrial Bank of Korea) corporate conference and training center in Chungju. The reception we received on Thursday night was heartwarming, and everything else has been absolutely excellent from food to rooms to transportation and the warmth and hospitality of our hosts. The IBK is set in a beautiful and quiet patch of scenic sub-mountain forest and aside from the varied gargantuan insect population we are very comfortable and feeling pampered and at home here.
We have spent the past two days getting accustomed to the time change, getting the particulars adjusted with our boat rig and learning our way around the hotel and the boathouse. Today is our last day for recovery from travel and the time adjustment before digging in and getting back in to a more normal training routine. If you follow World Rowing and other commentary on Worlds this year you will undoubtedly get reports about how unbearably hot it is here. It’s not that bad. For those of us who spend our summers training in Oklahoma City and Princeton, this is pretty average. Hydration and rest will be key for managing the conditions, but US Training Center athletes are very much in our element and know what it takes to deal with the weather.
Some of the highlights so far: learning how to eat Kyoho grapes (courtesy of Meghan Musnicki, an upstate New Yorker familiar with slip-skin Concord grapes), our Aladdin-inspired shuttle buses, and singing Happy Birthday to a different US Team Member every day at dinner.
More to come as we continue to settle in and prepare for racing at the 2013 World Championships.
Long Live the Dream,