This past month, HPG athletes Peter Schmidt and Chris Rogers competed in the Lightweight double scull event for the USA at the world rowing cup 2 in Poznan, Poland. With their coach Judith Vogel, they arrived in Berlin Monday morning and then took a bus into Poznan. With their first race on Friday, Peter and Chris had a tight turnaround to get over jet lag, traveling internationally, and making sure that their weight stayed in check for their upcoming weigh ins and subsequent races. Both athletes managed this task well and set about on the even bigger task of competing in an Olympic level event against some of the fastest crews in the world.
The first day of the trip, Chris, Peter and Judith walked from the hotel to the course and met with Filippi to rig the double they had reserved, a beautiful F13 hull with carbon stern mounted riggers. Once the boat was rigged, Chris and Peter went for a run since C2 hasn't arrived yet and wouldn't get to the course until Tuesday afternoon. Fortunately, there was a beautiful running trail around the entire lake that allowed Chris and Peter to take in the sights and get a feel for the course before they got in the double. It also made it possible for Judith to follow the races on her bicycle.
In the heat, the US double lined up next to Poland, Slovenia, China, Hong Kong, and the Olympic silver medalists, Ireland. The double kept with the pack off the start and past the 500m in mark. Coming through the thousand, the top boats took a shift and moved away from the US double. The progression was first place straight to the A-final with the rest to reps and the US double placed 5th so Chris and Peter got their legs flushed, took an ice bath and started getting ready for the reps the following morning.
In the rep, the double faced Poland, Japan, China, and Peru. The progression was top two to the A-FINAL and the rest to the B-final, so the double’s biggest competition would come from Poland, who placed 3rd at world cup 1 and Japan, who placed second in the heat the previous day. Again, the double kept with the pack off the start and was third coming through the thousand, 3 seconds behind Japan and a qualifying spot for the A Final. But the conditions in the second thousand of the course were rough with large rollers and wind gusts that the double did not handle as well as the other crews and ultimately finished fourth and would row in the B final the following morning.
Talking with Judith, the double agreed to race the B Final in many of the same ways that they had raced the previous two races; they would keep an aggressive start and make strategic moves leading into the thousand so that if conditions were the same as the past days, they would be in a better place to respond to moves from the other crews and keep their speed going into the second half of the race where they had faltered previously.
Come race day, conditions were much calmer in the second thousand and the double was right with the pack off the start and 2 seconds off the lead coming through the thousand. Coming into the last 500, the lead boat of Japan had pulled away to a comfortable 6 second lead over the double but only 1 second separated them from the second and third place boats of China and Slovenia. The double lifted their rate and began to make their final push and they made a valiant effort but caught a slight digger in the last 200 and finished fourth, two seconds off of third and three seconds off of second. Japan won the race with a time of 6:18, the US double finished in a time of 6:28.
Chris and Peter were pleased with their first performance in the lightweight double on the international level and have a plan for the changes they need to make in order to stay competitive throughout the race and finish as strongly as the other more experienced Olympic caliber crews. They flew back to America the following morning to resume their training, but not before sampling some of the traditional Polish cuisine that they had forgone earlier that week to ensure that making weight was the easiest part of their race.