Silver medallists Rolandas Mascinskas and Saulius Ritter of Lithuania, bronze medallists Francesco Fossi and Romano Battisti of Italy and gold medallists Nils Jakob Hoff and Kjetil Borch of Norway during the medal ceremony of the men’s double sculls at the 2013 World Rowing Championships in Chungju, Korea.

In one of the most surprising finals of the season, the Norwegian men’s double was crowned World Rowing Champions and left fans around the world embedded with the celebratory image of Nils Jakob Hoff standing up in his boat setting a  Norwegian Viking pose.  World Rowing's review of 2013 continues with the men’s double sculls.

After winning all three World Rowing Cups, the New Zealand men’s double sculls headed to the World Rowing Championships in Chungju as favourites. After moving from the quadruple sculls in 2012 and into the double for 2013, Robert Manson and Michael Arms of New Zealand seemed to be unbeatable.  But their winning streak came to a close when they finished second to the British double of Matt Langridge and Bill Lucas in their heat at Chungju. Manson and Arms still managed to find their way into the A-final, but the level of competition in Chungju was at its highest and a late season back injury for Arms meant that this young crew could only manage a sixth-place finish.

Up at the front of the pack in the A-final were Italy’s Romano Battisti and Francesco Fossi, Lithuania’s Rolandas Mascinskas and Saulius Ritter and Norway’s Nils Jakob Hoff and Kjetil Borch.

Italy’s Francesco Fossi (b) and Romano Battisti (s) race in the men’s double sculls heat at the 2013 World Rowing Championships in Chungju, Korea.

Battisti and Fossi started their season with a bang, taking home the gold medal at the European Championships and reinforcing this win with a strong second place finish at the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne. At the end of the race and with a bronze medal in his hand from the World Championships Fossi said, “It’s been a different season with a different coach, but it totally worked out and we’re really happy with the result.”

Ahead of the Italians and pushing for a chance at the gold medal in Chungju were Mascinskas and Ritter. Mascinskas and Ritter raced together in the double at last year's Olympic Games and have been spending this season working out the best combination with team mate Mindaugas Griskonis. Satisfied with their silver medal performance at the end of the race, Mascinskas and Ritter are looking to improve next year. They claim it will be their “revenge.”

The real surprise came from the European bronze medallists Hoff and Borch. Sidelined with a back injury midway through the season, Hoff was unable to compete with his partner at the second World Rowing Cup in Eton Dorney.  But the duo was unrelenting and came back at the third World Cup to take fifth. They entered the World Rowing Championships as an underdog crew, with a chance to medal if they managed the race of a lifetime. Heads started to turn as they convincingly won their heat and their semifinal and seemed to look stronger with every race.

Propelled by their performance, Hoff and Borch took the lead early on in the A-final and held off the charging Lithuanian crew to win the 2013 World Rowing Championships. Overcome with emotion, Hoff said after the race, “we didn’t believe it until the last stroke. Then I lost my mind.” His Viking pose would become one of the most well-known images from the entire Championships.

Hoff was quick to credit their new Swedish coach, Johan Flodin, calling it “a fantastic fresh start for Norway.” Flodin received the 2013 World Rowing Coach of the Year Award for his achievements and all eyes will be on this combination next year.