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Semifinals Day: Do or Die

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Canada’s women’s quadruple sculls crew in their semifinal today in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Credit: Katie Steenman Images, courtesy of Rowing Canada Aviron

August 28, 2014

Warm temperatures and calm waters greeted the early rising athletes in Amsterdam as the World Rowing Championships rolled into day 5.

Today began the all-important semifinals.  With two such races for each event, the top three finishing crews in each semifinal progressed on to the final, where medals will be contested at the end of the week. 

With so much on the line, the semifinal can be fiercely competitive, with athletes willing to sign away their first born child for a coveted place in the medal round.

Only one Canadian crew raced the morning portion of the programme, trying to secure a berth in the medal round.  The duo of Jennifer Martins and Kristin Bauder, doing double duty in Amsterdam, was the first crew to race for Canada.  Helping to qualify the four for the final yesterday, they tried to do the same this morning in the pair.

The twosome blasted out quickly with the leaders, however were unable to sustain the quick pace, finishing fourth. 

“We wanted to go after it and leave nothing out there,” commented Bauder on their fast start, ”we did that but struggled a bit in the second quarter.”

Martins and Bauder will race the pair B-final on Saturday, determining a world ranking between 7th and 12th position.  They will also join their crewmates to contest the four final on Friday.

The lightweight men’s double is out of the medal round, but in an attempt to determine where they are positioned against the rest of the world, they had another race this morning.  Finishing third, Nicolas Pratt and Alexander Walker will now have their final race of the regatta tomorrow.  This will determine a world ranking between 13th and 18th position.

As morning transitioned into afternoon, five more Canadian crews were preparing to race in semifinals.  The weather in Amsterdam changes faster than Justin Bieber’s rap sheet, and so naturally the sun and calm waters of the morning session were quickly replaced with clouds, a swirling breeze, and eventually a bit of rain.

Not a pressing issue however for Vancouver Island natives, who are accustomed to all sorts of weather in Victoria.

In the lightweight women’s single, which is not a part of the Olympic programme, Victoria native Teresa Berkholtz, in her first international racing season, qualified for the final.

Sitting in second place for most of the race behind the German, Berkholtz pushed past her competitor in the last 250 meters of the race, only to be passed herself by the fast charging Belgium.

Berkholtz will race for a medal tomorrow in the final.

The lightweight double of Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee were up next.  With a racing style that leaves fans over forty at risk of cardiac arrest, the Vancouver Island duo were sitting in fifth place for the majority of the race.

With 250 meters to go, Jennerich and Obee came charging back, not simply content to qualify, but to win the semi in dramatic style.  Crossing the line ahead of the field, their winning semifinal time was more than half a second faster than the winner of the other semifinal.

“I just wanted to stay in contact with Italy, the crew next to us,” explained a jubilant Jennerich. “I knew they were near the head of the field so I didn’t want to let them out of my site.”

The duo mentioned afterwards that they were focusing on technical aspects in the first half of the race, and then were going to start charging for the line in the second half.

“I knew we were in fifth, but Lindsay’s tone was calm, so I knew things were OK.” said Obee, in reference to Jennerich, who calls the race from bow seat. “We had discussed this beforehand, the second part of the race is GO time.”

Jennerich and Obee jet into the final, becoming gold medal favorites, on Saturday.

In the hotly contested men’s four event, Canada’s crew of Will Crothers, Rob Gibson, Conlin McCabe and Kai Langerfeld got off to a better start than in their previous race, something crewmember Gibson acknowledged they had been working on since the beginning of the week.

“The start was better,” said Crothers following the race, “it was cleaner, the boat went straight and we got into a better rhythm sooner.”

With calculated precision, the Canadians moved through the Italians to claim the last qualifying spot and book their place in Saturday’s final.

“We are pleased with the result.  We built on our first race, and we will continue building until Saturday,” Crothers reiterated.

Great Britain, the Olympic champions in this event, crossed the line first ahead of USA and Canada.

The women’s quadruple sculls event was next.  Emily Cameron, Kate Goodfellow, Carling Zeeman and Antje von Seydlitz-Kurzback, silver medalists at last year’s World Championships, raced a strong and composed semifinal, finishing third.

“We had really good rhythm from beginning to end,” said Cameron, while cooling down on the stationary bike, “it felt really relaxed.”

The four women are eager to improve upon last year’s result, no small feat.

“The final is going to be awesome!” giggled a clearly happy Seydlitz-Kurzback, “I’m really excited”.

The final for the women’s quad will be raced Saturday afternoon.

The men’s quadruple sculls crew of Pascal Lussier, Michael Braithwaite, Will Dean and Matthew Buie struggled in their semifinal race.

With only 3 seconds separating the deep field at the halfway mark, the Canadians were never able to find a sustainable rhythm to make them contenders.  Finishing 6th, the crew will not compete in the medal round, but will instead race in the B-final Saturday, determining their ranking between 7th and 12th.

Another big day of racing resumes tomorrow, starting with the semifinals and continuing with the non-Olympic event class finals. Racing resumes at 14:15 local time.

The SEMIFINALS will air on Rogers SportsNet One in Canada, between 3 – 5pm EST today.

Online streaming with audio commentary for the racing continues to be available throughout the week of competition at www.worldrowing.com.

Live video streaming for the Olympic class events also continues to be available from August 28 – 31 at www.worldrowing.com

Athlete biographies of Canada’s national rowing team are available at www.rowingcanada.org.

To support and learn more about team members and stay on top of developments within the Canadian National Rowing squad, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

Douglas Vandor

Communications and Media Relations Assistant | Adjoint aux Communications et aux Relations avec les médias

Rowing Canada Aviron

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