2012 Olympics: Meet the USA Rowing Team

Michael Carroll@mjcarroll531Featured ColumnistJuly 13, 2012

2012 Olympics: Meet the USA Rowing Team

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    The United States of America has earned 84 medals in rowing at the Olympic Games—more than any other nation. In 2012, the Americans head to Dorney Lake in London in hopes of claiming more Olympic hardware.

    Team USA has boats racing in 12 of the 14 events that make up the rowing competition. In this slideshow, I will list the events in which Team USA has qualified. I will also predict how each boat will perform in London.

    Let the Games begin.

Men's Single Sculls (1x)

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    Ken Jurkowski will represent Team USA in the men’s single sculls. Jurkowski is from New Fairfield, Conn., and he rowed collegiately at Cornell University.

    At the Samsung World Rowing Cup II in Lucerne, Switzerland, Jurkowski finished ninth. Jurkowski has generally finished around the top 10 in international competition.

    With that said, I think Jurkowski will reach the semifinals.

Women's Single Sculls (1x)

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    Gevvie Stone will represent Team USA in the women’s single sculls. Stone is from Newton, Mass., and she rowed collegiately at Princeton University.

    The last time Stone rowed internationally in the single, she finished 11th at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.

    Stone comes from a strong rowing pedigree, as both of her parents have rowed for Team USA in the Olympic Games. She will also earn her M.D. from Tufts University in 2014.

    Although Stone has qualified for the 2012 Olympics, she is much more accomplished in the single in longer-distance events. Stone has won the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, Mass. on three occasions. She also reached the Princess Royal Challenge Cup final at the Henley Royal Regatta every year from 2009-11.

    Stone hopes her success with rowing in England will carry over to the Olympics.

    I think Stone will reach the semifinals.

Lightweight Women's Double Sculls (2x)

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    Julie Nichols and Kristin Hedstrom will represent Team USA in the lightweight women’s double sculls.

    Nichols is from Livermore, Calif., and she rowed collegiately for the University of California-Berkeley.

    Hedstrom is from Concord, Mass., and she rowed collegiately at the University of Wisconsin.

    Nichols and Hedstrom finished fourth at the 2012 World Rowing Cup II. The two have finished in the top five of nearly every international event in which they have participated he last two years.

    Based on these results, Nichols and Hedstrom should reach the finals in London. I predict a bronze medal in this event for Team USA.

Women's Double Sculls (2x)

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    Margot Shumway and Sarah Trowbridge will represent Team USA in the women’s double sculls.

    Shumway is from Westlake, Ohio, and she rowed collegiately at The Ohio State University.

    Trowbridge is from Guilford, Conn., and she rowed collegiately at the University of Michigan.

    Though Shumway and Trowbridge have never raced together on the international stage, they are more than qualified. Shumway won the 2011 Pan-American Games in the single, while Trowbridge has medaled in the women’s double sculls on multiple international regattas.

    I think their lack of experience rowing together will hurt their chances of reaching the final. Chemistry within the boat is extremely important, especially in double sculls.

    A semifinal appearance is well within reach for Shumway and Trowbridge, though.

Men's Pair (2-)

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    Silas Stafford and Tom Peszek will represent Team USA in the men’s pair.

    Stafford is from Santa Rosa, Calif., and he rowed collegiately at the University of California at Los Angeles and then at Stanford University.

    Peszek is from Farmington Hills, Mich., and he rowed collegiately at the University of Michigan.

    Stafford rowed for Cambridge in the 2009 Boat Race, an annual event on the River Thames that pits Cambridge against Oxford. Peszek is the more experienced of the pair; he finished ninth at the 2011 World Rowing Championships.

    Stafford has rowed competitively mostly in the eight. With virtually no elite experience in the pair, he might have a steeper learning curve than most.

    I predict Stafford and Peszek will reach the quarterfinals.

    Fun Fact: Twins Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss finished sixth in this event at the 2008 Olympic Games. They are perhaps more famous today for their involvements with Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, as portrayed in the movie The Social Network.

Women's Pair (2-)

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    Sarah Zelenka and Sara Hendershot will represent Team USA in the women’s pair.

    Zelenka is from Itasca, Ill., and she rowed collegiately at Grand Valley State University.

    Hendershot is from West Simsbury, Conn., and she rowed collegiately at Princeton University.

    Zelenka and Hendershot won gold in the women’s four at the 2011 World Rowing Championships. Though they have not competed internationally in the pair to this point, Zelenka and Hendershot being in a boat together and winning the gold medal at a major international competition has to boost their confidence.

    I predict a semifinal finish in London for these two.

Lightweight Men's Four (4-)

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    The lightweight men’s four won the 2012 Olympic Qualification Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland, in late May.

    Considering Team USA finished 11th in this event at the 2008 Olympic Games, they are off to a good start for London.

    The Americans barely beat the crew from The Netherlands, so I predict another close one for all the marbles. I like Team USA to medal here.

Men's Four (4-)

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    Nobody in this event should rival Great Britain, They are the three-time defending Olympic champions, and they broke a world record in May. Despite the loss of Steve Williams in this boat, the hosts should have no problems.

    Team USA finished ninth at the 2008 Olympics. Charlie Cole, a member of the current crew, was named the 2011 US Rowing Athlete of the Year, but even he will not get the Americans past the British.

    I would like to think Team USA will reach the final, but a semifinals finish seems like the safe bet here.

Women's Quadruple Sculls (4x)

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    Team USA finished fifth in the women’s quadruple sculls at the 2008 Olympic Games. At the 2011 World Rowing Championships, this boat finished second.

    China ended Germany’s dominance of four straight Olympic gold medals in this event when the hosts won in 2008. With that said, this race has broken open.

    I predict Team USA will capitalize on this and finish with a medal.

Men's Quadruple Sculls (4x)

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    Team USA finished fifth in the men’s quadruple sculls at the 2008 Olympic Games.

    Boat member Peter Graves describes (via cincinnati.com) this crew as “completely new and untested.” Graves thinks his teammates will sneak up on some crews in this event. Harry Graves, Peter’s father, taught him how to row on the River Thames, so in a way, Graves is returning to his roots.

    I predict Graves will not return with a medal, instead making it only to the semifinals.

Women's Eight (8+)

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    Team USA has the best chance to win a gold medal in the women’s eight.

    The women’s eight is the defending Olympic gold medalist from 2008. Six of the nine women from that boat, including coxswain Mary Whipple, are back in 2012.

    Team USA broke the world record in this event at the 2012 World Rowing Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland. They are also the six-time defending world champions.

    The Americans should walk away with gold here; frankly anything else would be a major disappointment.

Men's Eight (8+)

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    Speaking of disappointments, the men’s eight qualified for the 2012 Olympics at the last possible event, the 2012 Olympic Qualification Regatta. The Americans won the final to qualify for London.

    In 2004, Team USA won the gold medal in this event, and they finished third in 2008. Even though this boat has not performed well lately, I guarantee they will medal again in London. Why? Juliet Macur from nytimes.com explains:

    Never in the modern era of the Olympics had the United States men’s eight failed to qualify for the Olympics at the previous world championships. But last year the men’s eight was a dismal eighth at the worlds, making its road to London much more difficult. So last fall, US Rowing, the sport’s governing body in the United States, turned to someone to help the eight succeed: the former national team head coach Mike Teti, an unyielding longtime coach known for results.

    Teti left to become the head coach at the University of California-Berkeley after the 2008 Olympics. He came back to help this boat get into the Olympics, though, and they succeeded.

    With Teti at the helm again, I predict another trip to the medal stand. Canada broke the world record in this event in May, and as the defending Olympic champions, they should win again.

    As for Team USA, I think they will get silver.