BY LUKE REYNOLDS
PHOTO BY LISA WORTHY
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A new Olympic cycle is underway.
Athletes from high-performance clubs across the country will race tomorrow at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida for National Selection Regatta I and Senior/Para Speed Order.
“For me, the emotional stress now going into the new cycle is actually pretty calm and rather excited,” Texas Rowing Center’s High Performance Head Coach Peter Mansfeld said.
Mansfeld says that NSR I is a good jumping-off point for the next cycle.
“This is the first step and we will take it as a first step. And then NSR II with racing the doubles is going to be—especially on the lightweight side and then even on the heavyweight men’s side since we rowed a double last year—a little bit more interesting to me. So [NSR I] is actually a good easing in ambition for the next three years.”
Racing will be contested across nine boat classes with World Cup spots up for grabs in the men’s and women’s singles. Winners of those two events will earn entry at World Rowing Cup II in Poznan, Poland, where a top-six finish—or top 50 percent finish if there are fewer than 12 entries—would earn the athletes the opportunity to represent the U.S. in the event at the 2022 World Rowing Championships in Racice, Czech Republic, according to USRowing.
There are 37 entries in the women’s single event making it the most entered event of the regatta. The field includes Kara Kohler, a two-time Olympian who finished ninth in the event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, ARION’s Kristi Wagner, who finished fifth in the double in Tokyo, and Olympians Cicely Madden and Alie Rusher who raced in the quad at last year’s Games.
In the men’s single, the 31 athletes including California Rowing Club’s Ben Davison who finished fourth as part of the men’s eight at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and ten-time national team member and 2012 Olympian Tom Peszek.
“I’m really excited,” Davison said. “It’s been a while since I’ve raced in the single for a 2k and it’s been a while since I’ve raced in Sarasota so I’m very excited.”
Davison says that his plan for the regatta is to have confidence and take the racing one stroke at a time.
In the Senior/Para Speed Order that is taking place at the same regatta, athletes will race mainly to test speed and get an idea of where the rest of the field is before NSR II which takes place May 3-6 in West Windsor, New Jersey. Athletes will race in the lightweight men’s and women’s single, PR3 women’s pair, PR3 women’s single, PR3 mixed double, and PR2 men’s single.
Jasper Liu, a member of the Texas Rowing Center’s High Performance program will race in the lightweight men’s single. Liu says that the members of TRC were excited to hit the water and are looking forward to competing again.
“By November everyone was here in Austin and really excited about training, which is the most important part,” Liu said. “No one was like, ‘oh, okay. I have to go back.’ It was more ‘we’re really eager to get back on the water and start making boats go fast.'”
NSR II will determine who represents the United States in the LW2x, LM2x, W2x, M2x, W2-, M2- boat classes at World Rowing Cup II June 16-19 in Poznan, Poland.
Racing begins Tuesday at 8:00 a.m.
*Rowing News Trials coverage brought to you by Gemini.