PHOTO AND STORY BY USROWING
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The U.S. PR3 mixed double sculls and PR3 four with coxswain crews both won gold medals on Sunday at the 2023 Para Rowing Regatta to Paris, easily winning their finals on the Paralympic course in Vaires-sur-Marne, France.
In the PR3 mixed double sculls, Gemma Wollenschlaeger (St. Augustine Beach, Fla./Temple University) and Todd Vogt (Rochester, N.Y. /Portland Boat Club) claimed the gold medal by more than 18 seconds in Sunday’s final. After also winning their morning race by more than 18 seconds, Wollenschlaeger and Vogt repeated that performance in the afternoon final, clocking a 7:33.10 to defeat Germany by 18.32 seconds. Italy finished third. Now a three-time national team member, Vogt raced the PR3 mixed double at last year’s world championships, finishing fifth, while Wollenschlaeger is a first-time national team member.
“Today’s race was one I’ll never forget — my first international racing experience and winning gold while representing the USA,” Wollenschlaeger said. “It was an awesome experience, and I am so excited for the rest of the summer and the speed to come. I am so grateful to be here and proud of all the work our team has been putting in. It’s been an incredible experience so far.”
The PR3 mixed four with coxswain of Ben Washburne (Madison, Conn./Williams College), Saige Harper (Easthampton, Mass./Sacred Heart University), Skylar Dahl (Minneapolis, Minn./University of Virginia), Alex Flynn (Wilmington, Mass./Tufts University), and coxswain Emilie Eldracher (Andover, Mass./Massachusetts Institute of Technology) also had no trouble winning the gold medal, finishing 25 seconds ahead of Italy. In its morning race, the U.S. crew defeated France by a little over 11 seconds, crossing the line in a 6:59.35, with Italy taking third. In the final, the American crew clocked a 7:14.33. France did not race in the final. Harper, Flynn, and Eldracher were part of the PR3 mixed four that finished fifth at last year’s world championships, while Washburne and Dahl are making their Team USA debuts.
“We are thrilled and grateful for the opportunity to race internationally this early in our training,” Eldracher said. “For our first races as a crew, we went out with the goal of accomplishing the best pieces we could. Thanks to the dogged determination of this boat, we’re leaving France proud and excited to keep moving forward.”
The Para Rowing Regatta to Paris provided both crews their first opportunity to race together ahead of the 2023 World Rowing Championships scheduled for September 3-10 in Belgrade, Serbia. This year’s world championship is the first opportunity for countries to qualify boats for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.