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First Medals on The Line in Tokyo

STAFF REPORTS
PHOTO BY ED MORAN

With two days of cancellations due to potential weather and a full year of postponement now over, crews are set to resume racing Wednesday morning in Japan and move right to the day when the first medals will be on the line.

After a set of B finals, six events will be settled in the men’s and women’s double, the men’s and women’s fours, and the men’s and women’s quad. Two U.S. crews will be on the line. The first to race will be Gevvie Stone and Kristina Wagner in the women’s double. Stone will hope to wrap up her three-year Olympic career with a second podium appearance.

Stone, who won silver in the single in Rio, and Wagner, making her first Olympic appearance, will have their work ahead of them if they want to medal in a fast and deep field that includes Lithuania, Canada, The Netherlands, Romania, and New Zealand.

In each of the first two rounds of racing, Stone and Wagner have fallen behind off the line and relied on solid base speed to climb back into the field and qualify. That will be a near-impossible feat to repeat in the final. Their race starts at 8:18 p.m. eastern.

Following the semifinal, Stone said they had done what they needed to do to win and deal with the conditions on the course.

“We went out there, and we knew that we had to be tough in the headwind,” Stone said. “It wasn’t the prettiest of starts, but we were tough through that base rhythm and enjoyed every gust of headwind we got.”

Wagner noted that they had made improvements from the heat, but will be looking for a few adjustments in the final.

“I think one thing that we did improve on from our heat to today was the second 250,” she said. “I think we lost a lot in that, especially to New Zealand, in the heat, and I think today we started moving a little bit sooner. It still wasn’t quite as much as we wanted, but we came into the middle 1,000 in a little bit of a better spot than Friday.”

The second medal chance for the U.S. will come in the men’s four, a young crew being stroked by Harvard undergraduate Clarke Dean with Michael Grady, Rio Olympian Anders Weiss, and Andrew Reed behind him.

Grady, who is also rowing in his first Olympics had this to say after the heat: “It’s just fun. You’ve got to remember that this is just pure racing at its finest. There are not many people here, so it’s just like the true nature of racing – six crews across, going against each other. It’s a whole lot of fun, and you just have to remember that’s why we are here. We want to race.”

Unlike the women’s double, the U.S. men went for the win in the first strokes of their heat, jumping into a lead and forcing eventual heat winner Australia to chase them down the course. They face Romania, Australia, Great Britain, Italy, and The Netherlands.

In addition to the women’s double and the men’s four who will be racing for medals, five other U.S. crews will be racing in B finals, repechages, and semifinals on Wedenedsay morning.

First up on the day is, the women’s four which races in the B final against Romania, Canada, and Denmark. Start time is 7:30 p.m. eastern.

Next, the women’s quad will race at 8:00 p.m. eastern in the B final. They take on Great Britain, New Zealand, and France.

Following are Michelle Sechser and Molly Reckford, who will race in the semifinal of the lightweight women’s double at 10:50 p.m. against ROC, Canada, Romania, Italy, and the host country of Japan. The top three crews will advance to the A final for the chance to pick up a medal. The rest will race in the B final.

In the women’s pair, Tracy Eisser and Megan Kalmoe will race in A/B semifinal 2 against Italy, Romania, New Zealand, ROC, and Spain at 11:30 p.m. The top three crews will move on to the A final.

Finally, as the Sea Forest Waterway heats up, the big boats will take to the course including the United States’ men’s eight which will race in the men’s eight repechage. They will line up against Romania, New Zealand, Great Britain, and Australia at 11:50 p.m. The top four crews will advance to the A final.

Not every crew will have to race Wednesday, even with the schedule change. Kara Kohler and the U.S. women’s eight are both qualified for the A finals which will take place on Friday at 8:30 p.m. and 9:05 p.m., respectively.

The complete new schedule can be found here.

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