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GRP Rowing Looks Ahead After the Postponement of the 2020 Olympics Games

28.Mar.2020 by Alex Spaulding

Just twelve days ago, the men and women of the Green Racing Project were finishing up a Super Compensation phase of training in the lead up to Olympic Trials I in Inverness, Florida – and then the dominoes started to fall. As the reality of the affects of COVID-19 started to set-in, it became clear to USRowing that it would not be socially responsible to hold Olympic Trials in the months of March and April. This was the first “phase” of postponement for our Summer Olympic hopefuls, with other phases following rapidly each day after.

Within a span of three days FISA, the governing body of World Rowing, canceled all three World Cups and the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta. The outlook for qualification as well as the Olympics themselves started to look quite complicated across all Summer-Sports, and it wasn’t long before governing bodies of USASwimming, and USATrack&Field called for the postponement of the games. Just a day later, Australia and Canada became the first two countries to “drop out” of the games as a symbol of social responsibility. And finally, on Tuesday March 24th, the Japanese Prime Minister announced the official postponement of the games to, no later than, the summer of 2021.

The Green Racing Project packed up their camp in Florida and head north after the announcements by FISA on the 15th. Coach Whelpley decided it would be a safer and healthier environment for the team to be back at home in Vermont. Since arriving back on campus, the GRP rowers have been following strict quarantine guidelines at the COC and have been operating out of their houses and doing what they can to maintain fitness under the current shelter in place. 

As for next steps, the team is still awaiting announcements from FISA and USRowing in regards to possible summer racing opportunities. These are unprecedented times for our athletes as many had chunked out their lives with this year being their athletic apex followed by a transition year. This month will be one of decision making, with many athletes leaning toward going for “one more big one” and others who will be hanging up their oars, like Wes Vear, who will be heading to Columbia Medial School in NYC in the fall.

This is definitely an emotional experience for our athletes – with some uncertainty, excitement, doubt, and positivity. One this is for certain, and that is that I am proud and thankful to be a part of such an amazing community like the COC because we always work toward doing the “right thing” and that will pay dividends as we ban together to fight this pandemic and eventually look toward our personal goals.

Hallie’s First Biathlon World Cup

21.Jan.2020 by Hallie Grossman

Hallie here, writing from the “Family Club” or “Y” at the Biathlon World Cup in Ruhpolding, Germany (that’s where this post originated, but it took a few days to finish). On January 6 and 7, USBA/the National Team held two trials races in Arber, Germany to determine the IBU Cup and World Cup teams for the upcoming race weekends. Jake, Emily, another teammate Paul, and I were the top two men and women in the races, so after the races wrapped up, we got in the van for a fairly long ride to Oberhof, Germany. Four hours and one “American burger” stop later, we made it to Oberhof.

Oberhof is notorious for its inclement (read: lousy) weather and it didn’t disappoint. As we got closer to the venue, the fog set in. It seems like natural snow is lacking in Central Europe this year, so it wasn’t surprising that there wasn’t any of that. There was a light dusting of snow in Oberhof, but I was warned that that would likely be gone soon (it was).

The next morning, I had some business to attend to. First, I had to get my rifle and some of my racing clothes inspected, to make sure my rifle was legal and my clothes didn’t have too many or the wrong logos on them. Second, Armin, the women’s National Team coach, gave me a tour of the racing venue. The venue is huge-large enough to contain at least 20,000 fans, more than 200 competitors, a similar number, if not more, of team staff, and a huge amount of wonderful volunteers. The venue is on a hill, with the wax cabins at the top and the range at the bottom, so there is a complex maze of buildings and temporary outdoor stairs to get you from one place to another. Armin told me the best way to navigate the maze, showed me where rifle check was, and pointed out least six different toilets (a critical part of race day!). After the grand tour, it was time for training, where I tried to not be too star-struck by all the biathlon phenoms on the range the whole time. It was raining, which made it more difficult to see and distinguish everyone in all their rain gear!

Thursday was sprint race day! Almost all the World Cup races are in the afternoon-better for spectators-so I went about my usual prerace activities of jogging and dryfiring and eating and being a mix of nervous and excited. Kelsey and I found glitter earlier in the winter and started wearing it at races. I hemmed and hawed for a moment about whether I wanted to wear glitter in the big leagues and the final decision was a resounding yes. I was really excited when Armin handed me my bib and said I got to keep it! They make new bibs for every single race on the World Cup. Seems a bit wasteful, but also good souvenirs and gifts for supporters. I’ll definitely be keeping this one forever though.

All smiles before the first race: glitter, a pink bib that is mine forever and a smily coach. (Ignore that I am wearing rain pants and our changing cabin is full of rain gear).

The most noteworthy part of the race was the spectators. There is a giant hill at the beginning of the course that is packed with people, that were all cheering. On the first loop, I couldn’t help but smile going up that hill. For the two more or more minutes that you ski through the stadium before you shoot, there are tons and tons of cheering spectators.

The IBU Instagram featured the new-comers to the circuit after the sprint. This pictures sums up my feelings of the day pretty well: tired but there’s a hint of smile still left.

Friday was a day off from racing. Usually on a day like this you go to the venue for training and do some skiing and shooting. Unfortunately, it had rained so much that they cancelled women’s training to preserve the snow for the men’s race that afternoon and all the racing that still had to take place in the coming days.

Saturday was relay day! It was my first time doing the “women’s relay.” On the IBU Cup, they are always mixed gender relays. It was also the first time there was an all-GRP relay on the biathlon World Cup! Susan was the scramble leg, followed by Clare, then me, then Emily as the anchor. These other three are well known for being really good at relays! Clare and Susan were in the top five for both of their legs and I haven’t been that nervous before a race start in a long time. While me and the other third-leggers were waiting to be tagged, a Swedish girl turned to me and said “Have fun! Enjoy it!” A smile instantly came over my face and I relaxed a lot. During the race, I got passed by several people and had one penalty loop in standing (in a relay, you have three spare rounds then anymore open targets require a penalty loop). Susan was out on the course cheering for me, which was really encouraging, as was Armin and our other coaches and wax technicians. I tagged Emily in 13th place (I think) and then she moved us up to 12th.

After the race, the Swedish girl gave me a big hug and asked me how it was and said she knew it was my first World Cup because aforementioned Instagram post. I told her that her pre-race reminder made my day. I didn’t perform as well as I wanted to in the relay, but my teammates were so encouraging and reminded me of the rule of not be allowed to say “sorry” after a relay.

GRP relay selfie

Sunday brought the final races of the weekend: the mass starts. To be qualify for the mass start, you have to be in top-25 World Cup ranking or the top-five performers that week so far. Susan qualified for her first mass start of the season in Oberhof! I decided to take the short jog from our hotel to watch the women’s race. I don’t think there were a lot of other athletes’ spectating but I was still starry-eyed enough about being on the World Cup that I wanted to go watch, and cheer for Suz! The weather wasn’t great for the race and it was quite windy but this didn’t deter the fans at all.

Only a sliver of the grandstands.
There were jumbotrons on the course!
Throngs of people leaving after the women’s race.

After Oberhof, it was on to Ruhpolding. I was promised nicer weather here, and it happened for the beginning of the week. It was like spring, with green grass and temperatures climbing to the mid 40’s.

Happy to see the sun!

On the second night in Oberhof, there were the Opening Ceremonies. I learned that certain World Cups have these every year. We waited outside for a long time, then walked across a stage and there were tons of people watching.

Our flag bearers
Some of the kids wanted everything and anything signed, like snow pants, gloves, and jackets!

Ruhpolding is a total biathlon town. There were signs for the races everywhere. When we were there in the summer, there were spectators at the range, cheering. They even have an indoor shooting range!

We went to the “shooting hall,” or indoor shooting range. It was quite loud but also beneficial to do more slow fire shooting in the winter without freezing.

The women’s sprint race was on Thursday. I heard Jake’s parents cheering from the side of the course, which was cool!

Starting the sprint. I think the primary purpose of the start cabin is sponsor visibility.
Photo from Karen, Jake’s mom.

On Friday, we took the tram up a mountain. It was the same mountain that Alex, Emily, Mike, and I hiked up a few years ago when we were in Ruhpolding for a training camp. It was fun to be like a regular tourist and get a ride to the top, then enjoy coffee and cake in the sunshine! The view looking down the mountain was neat, as one side looked like green farmland and the other side was snowy mountains.

Green grass
Fun afternoon adventure.

I didn’t compete in Friday’s pursuit, but got to be on course with Armin during the race. It was neat to experience this perspective of the World Cup! There were a lot of coaches, spare poles, smart phones with live results, and cheering. I was too intent on learning how to be a coach to take any pictures…

I’m back to the IBU Cup now and we have a few week break before racing commences. I’m spending the time in Switzerland with a girl on the Swiss team! It’s been sunny and great so far.

Canadian Henley Day 6

19.Aug.2019 by Jen Forbes

Finals day!! It certainly has been a long week here up in St. Catharines, and today was the culminating day! The morning at the cottage was full of anxious but fun energy. Everyone woke up and trickled in and out of the common room, made breakfast, caffeinated, etc. and then one by one were shuttled to the course for our races.

The first to go were the U23 men, Jack and Nathan. They raced in the final of the Champ M2- and took third, which was pretty darn impressive seeing as how they had only rowed that boat together about four times (including racing)! Next up was Rhiannon in the U23 Women’s Single final, where she also took third in a competitive field! 

The afternoon hosted the finals for the Champ 1x’s. First to go were us women. Taylor and Liza took off on the field early in the race and took 1st and 2nd respectively. I was in the middle of the pack for much of the race and then had to dig really deep to hold out for a 5th place finish. And finally, Andy and Mark represented the Cedar Leaves in the Champ M1x final. They both fought hard and took 2nd and 6th respectively.

All in all it was an AWESOME week of racing here in Canada and it was really great to send our U23’s out with a bang. I am about to hitch a ride back to my family home in Michigan with a few nice college kids from Wisconsin – so I have to go! That’s a wrap on Canadian Henley 2019! 

Go Green!

-Alex Spaulding

Canadian Henley Day 5

19.Aug.2019 by Jen Forbes

Today was a WILD day. There were a total of 14 Craftsbury Boats that raced today. We kicked the morning off with Andy and Nathan racing in the M1x 500m Dash. Both raced hard, but neither qualified to move on to the next round. That, however, did not keep them down for long as Nathan went on to qualify the Champ M2- with Jack for tomorrow’s final! And Andy went on to qualify for the final in the Men’s Champ 1x. Mark also qualified to for tomorrow’s final in the same event! 

The morning didn’t stop there! As all three women advanced from our heats onto tomorrow’s Champ 1x final! Taylor and Liza each won their respective heats and I took second in mine. Tomorrow’s final will be very green!

On the U23 side, Mackenzie and Rhiannon raced their semi’s for the U23 W1x early this afternoon. Rhiannon took second and advances on to tomorrow’s final and Mackenzie just missed out on a qualifying spot. 
Bridget and Charlotte took to the water a little later in the afternoon for their Senior W2x final. They put together a great piece and took second in the final! 

And the final *~Premiere Event~* of the day was the Mixed 8+ Dash 4 Cash! There was a LOT of smack talk happening in the warm up area and we were quite rowdy while waiting to launch! It was all fun and games in the lead up to the race, but once we were locked into the starting boat, it was clear that we were all ready to crush! I was actually really impressed with how quickly we were able to sync up and lay down a pretty great rhythm. The whole event was a lot of fun and a nice little break from the seriousness of the regatta – plus our winnings go to a great cause!

We all came home and enjoyed our last “family dinner” together. We have one more day of racing and I think we’re all excited to see what we can do!

Until tomorrow!

-Alex Spaulding