USRowing will take a step closer to Rio this week.
Six of the 13 boats Team USA already qualified for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will be determined at this week’s U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Team Trials at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, Florida.
Team USA earned Olympic and Paralympic qualifications in the six events — women’s single sculls, women’s double sculls, lightweight men’s double sculls, lightweight women’s double sculls, men’s arms and shoulders single sculls, and women’s arms and shoulders single sculls — during the 2015 World Rowing Championships last September in Aiguebelette, France. The U.S. has also qualified the men’s pair, men’s four, lightweight men’s four, women’s pair, women’s quadruple sculls, women’s eight, and legs, trunk and arms mixed four.
The winner of the six qualified, small-boat events will earn Olympic and Paralympic roster spots and a $3,500 cash award.
Winners from the other three events scheduled this week in Sarasota — men’s single sculls, men’s double sculls and men’s quadruple sculls — earn the opportunity to race in the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta next month in Lucerne, Switzerland, as well as the cash prize. A top-two or top-three finish in Switzerland earns an Olympic berth.
Here’s what you need to know about this week’s event:
U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Team Trials for Rowing
When: April 17-24
Where: Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, Florida
Who: 73 crews from 30 clubs
About: The event starts with time trials on Thursday to determine lanes for the heats. Heats, repechages — a French word for second chance — and semifinals on Friday and Saturday narrow the field to the four fastest boats for Sunday’s finals.
Boats Already Qualified For Rio
Women’s Single Sculls
Athletes entered: 13
Who to watch: Gevvie Stone qualified Team USA in this event with a fourth-place finish at the World Rowing Championships. She was seventh in single sculls at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Lindsay Meyer was fifth in quadruple sculls at the Beijing 2008 Games. Meyer took silver in double sculls and quadruple sculls at the 2015 Pan American Games.
Women’s Double Sculls
Crews entered: 7
Who to watch: The team of Ellen Tomek and Meghan O’Leary represented the United States at three straight world championships. They finished 11th in 2015 to qualify Team USA for Rio. Tomek has Olympic experience after finishing fifth in double sculls at the 2008 Games. The team of Mary Jones and Nicole Ritchie had success at the 2015 Pan American Games. Jones won gold in lightweight single sculls while Ritchie took silver in double and quadruple sculls.
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls
Crews entered: 8
Who to watch: The team of Andrew Campbell Jr. and Joshua Konieczny finished eighth at the world championships to qualify Team USA. Campbell won consecutive gold medals at the 2013 and 2014 Under-23 world championships in lightweight single scull. Also watch the teams of Peter Schmidt-Jacob Georgeson, Colin Ethridge-Matt O’Leary and Austin Meyer-Nick Trojan. Trojan took fifth in lightweight single sculls at the world championships. Meyer and Ethridge took silver in the lightweight double sculls at the 2015 Pan American Games.
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls
Crews entered: 8
Who to watch: The teams of Kate Bertko-Devery Karz and Victoria Burke-Nancy Miles come in as favorites. Karz (with Michelle Sechser) took 11th at the world championships to qualify Team USA. Bertko took bronze in the lightweight single sculls — a non-Olympic event — at the 2014 and 2015 world championships. She also took second in the lightweight double sculls in 2013. Burke took silver in quadruple sculls and bronze in lightweight double sculls at 2015 Pan American Games.
Men’s Arms and Shoulders Single Sculls
Athletes entered: 3
Who to watch: Blake Haxton finished fifth at the world championships to qualify Team USA and took fourth at the 2014 world championships. Ron Harvey is a two-time Paralympian. He finished eighth at the 2012 Games and fifth at the 2008 Games.
Women’s Arms and Shoulders Single Sculls
Athletes entered: 2
Who to watch: Jacqui Kapinowski finished eighth to qualify Team USA at the world championships. She has competed in several Paralympic sports, including a bronze-medal finish at the 2013 paratriathlon world championships. KateLynne Steinke took eighth in the event at the 2014 World Rowing Championships.
Men’s Single Sculls
Athletes entered: 20
Who to watch: Ken Jurkowski is a two-time Olympian in the event, finishing 11th at the 2008 Games and 24th at the 2012 Games. Tom Graves took 20th at last week’s 2016 World Rowing Cup 1 in Varese, Italy; John Graves finished 16th in double sculls at the world championships.
Men’s Double Sculls
Crews entered: 9
Who to watch: The teams of Willy Cowles-Stephen Whelpley and Leonard Futterman-Jonathan Kirkegaard lead the way. Whelpley finished eighth in quadruple sculls at 2014 World Rowing Championships and 13th in single sculls in 2013. Futterman was 21st in single sculls at the 2013 U23 world championships.
Men’s Quadruple Sculls
Crews entered: 3
Who to watch: This event held its time trial Sunday and has its final Tuesday. The team of Ben Davison, Ben Dann, John Graves and 2012 Olympian Peter Graves (quadruple sculls) won the time trial.
Tom Glave has written for TeamUSA.org since 2011 as a freelance contributor on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He covered prep and college sports for newspapers in Missouri and Arkansas for nine years and now works part time in the Houston area.