Twigg joins Synek in the top medal spot
Light ripples of the lake turned into a head wind under dark skies as the afternoon's blue riband finals took to the water at the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland. The United States continued to dominate the women’s eight while Ekaterina Karsten lost her domination to New Zealand’s Emma Twigg. Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic truly established his domination in the men’s single and Germany added win number 26 to their men’s eight portfolio.
Women’s Eight (W8+) – Final
Ever since the United States built their collegiate women’s rowing and tapped into it at the elite level, the title of the women’s eight has been hard to take away from the country. Under the watchful eye of coach Tom Terhaar the Americans now own the World Best Time as well as the 2008 Olympic Champion title and every world title since 2006. Today the US raced for the first time internationally since the 2010 World Rowing Championships and they showed why they have the talent to remain on top.
Despite having quite a different crew from the 2010 World Champion crew, the US raced just the right pace to ensure that, despite not leading through the body of the race, they had enough to sprint the finish. Instead Canada led for majority of the race. Canada, under the very talented guidance of coxswain Lesley Thompson-Willie, was doing their best to hold off the United States, but in the final sprint the Canadians didn’t have enough push left.
At the line the US had taken yet another gold as Canada held on to second over the Netherlands in third.
Results: USA, CAN, NED, GBR, ROU, GER
Mary Whipple (USA) – Gold
“The race was not the prettiest, but was very gutsy from everyone in the boat. They were all persistent against the wind and very aggressive. Every time a gust threw us off they were all determined to get the blade in again and bend it. I am very proud of the way the team handled the challenging conditions.”
Krista Guloien (CAN) – Silver
“The wind, which is unusual for this course, reminded us of home.”
Janine Hanson (CAN) – Silver
“This was a nice way to end a five week European tour.”
Darcy Marquardt (CAN) – Silver
“We learned a lot racing here in the Holland Becker and establishing a fun rivalry with the Dutch women. We were happy to take the silver here in Lucerne and to get our first victory of the tour over the Dutch. It is exciting so see that all of the nations are stepping up in preparation for the Worlds and the Olympics.”
Chantal Achterberg (NED) – Bronze
“”I am a little bit disappointed. We hoped that more would be possible. In Munich we were in first place. We had to row against a strong wind. Now we will train very hard in Holland and Italy until the Worlds in Slovenia."
Poland and Russia went head to head in this B-final. Both crews had very dedicated and loud coxswains that kept their crew motivated throughout the 2000m race. Russia generally rated higher and took line honours.
Results: RUS, POL
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Final
As the scullers lined up the wind started to get up and the skies began to darken. New Zealand’s Emma Twigg seemed not to notice. She had one thing on her mind, winning. Twigg, 24, has been in the single regularly since 2007 when she won at the under-23 level and then made the final as a senior. Since then she has raced at the Olympic Games and regularly medalled at the World Cup level. But she has never won a World Cup gold.
All of that changed today on the waters of the Rotsee.
Twigg took off in the lead followed by Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic and Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus in third. Then China’s Xiuyun Zhang moved through pushing Karsten back into fourth. Twigg remained in the lead pushing into the now growing head win.
Coming into the final sprint Zhang was solidly in second and Knapkova had a nearly a boat length over Karsten. What could Karsten do? Twigg, looking smooth and powerful, continued to lead with Karsten now giving it her all. But Karsten had left it too late. At the line Twigg had earned her first World Cup gold, Zhang took second and Knapkova had held off Karsten to take the bronze. Karsten was out of the medals at an international event for the first time since 1999.
Results: NZL1, CHN, CZE, BLR, SWE, AZE
Emma Twigg (NZL) – Gold
“I could take a good lead and held it on to the end. It’s good but this is the World Cup and the World Championships are more important. We will have the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand; I will still be in Europe at the beginning and I’ll try to go and see some games when I’m home, if I can find tickets! I hope they’ll do as well as for the World Rowing Championships. This is real good for New Zealand.”
Zhang Xiuyun (CHN) – Silver
“The race was better. I started in Hamburg and Munich too. Now I will go back to China to train and come back for the World Championships, I've been coming to Lucerne for about 10 years now.”
Mirka Knapkova (CZE) – Bronze
“In the middle of the race, the water conditions were very difficult. I’m very happy with the bronze medal and very proud to have beaten Ekaterina”
Donata Vistartaite of Lithuania is the reigning under-23 World Champion and she is looking to be a force to be reckoned with as she goes through her paces at the senior level. Vistartaite has finished seventh at the first and second World Cups. Would she do it again today? Vistartaite led for the majority of the race but then lost her nerve in the final sprint when Julia Levina of Russia took up her stroke rate to 38 and charged past. Vistartaite then caught a boat stopping crab and ended up finishing fourth.
Results: RUS, DEN, GER2, LTU, SRB, EST
Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Final
The men’s single looks like it has truly moved into the era of domination by the Czech Republic’s Ondrej Synek. Under overcast skies and flat water with a head wind now getting up, Synek took off in the lead followed very closely by New Zealand’s Mahe Drysdale. Lately Drysdale has not been starting his races very quickly, but his close matching of Synek’s starts signalled that Drysdale meant business.
And Drysdale did mean business. In the second 500m Drysdale had snatched the lead from Synek. But Synek is no fading rose. The Czech giant fought back and grabbed the lead back again. This leading battle left the rest of the field far, far behind with only Lassi Karonen of Sweden able to get anywhere close to the Kiwi-Czech battle.
Coming into the final sprint both Synek and Drysdale looked to have given their best through the body of the race. Synek had held on to his first place position with Drysdale earning a very credible silver. Karonen finished third and gets the prize for sculling the most controlled, consistent race of the six scullers.
Results: CZE, NZL, SWE, USA, CAN, NOR
All five boats were very tight going through the half way point with less than two seconds separating all of them. Then Mindaugas Griskonis of Lithuania started to break away using a 34 – 35 stroke rate. Belgium’s Olympian Tim Maeyens took chase with a stroke rate of 38 – 39. This gave Maeyens second place as he continued to move on Griskonis. Griskonis held off the flying Belgian to remain in first. China did not start for medical reasons.
Results: LTU, BEL1, CRO, LTU2, GER2
Men’s Eight (M8+) – Final
The rain began as the last race of the regatta came down the Rotsee regatta course. Germany was out to continue their unbeaten streak that has lasted 25 races, while Great Britain wanted to show that the Netherlands beating them in the heats was an anomaly. The Netherlands wanted to show that it wasn’t.
Every time Germany has boated an eight this season it has been a different line up. The only consistency has been coxswain Martin Sauer. But it doesn’t seem to matter what line up they use, the Germans still win and they did exactly that again today, bringing their winning total to 26.
Germany took off at the head of the field with the United States in second. The Dutch and Great Britain settled into their own head-to-head battle at the back of the field. Coming through the third 500 Germany were out in front with the Netherlands now gaining a good two second margin over Great Britain. But there was still a good 500m to row.
As Great Britain unleashed their powerful finishing charge, the Netherlands did all that they could to hold on. The United States did not have the pace to hold off this battle. Germany crossed the line first. Great Britain and the Netherlands ended in another photo finish. The Dutch had finished 4/100th of a second ahead of Great Britain.
Results: GER, NED, GBR, USA, CAN, POL
Australia may not really like to be racing in a B-final, but they made the best of this one by jumping out at the start and keeping their nose ahead of all of the other boats for the entire race. Coxed by Tobias Lister, a student from Sydney, the crew that contains only three rowers from last year’s bronze medal boat, held a steady pace and had enough speed built up through the middle of the race that they did not really have to sprint the finish.
Behind the Australians, Ukraine and France were neck-and-neck for the entire 2000m. Ukraine had a very slight edge when the two boats crossed the finish line.
Results: AUS, UKR, FRA, NZL, RUS