So, does anyone read this? If you do, you may have noticed a significant amount of time passed (even by my own standards) between the posting of Philly Tri Day 1 (Sprint) and Philly Tri Day 2 (Olympic). Besides the obvious reason that I am not particularly attentive to updating this blog on a regular (or even semi-regular basis), the biggest reason was something pretty awesome happened in the meantime.
On Wednesday, June 27th, my younger brother Jonathan won the Lightweight Men’s 1x at the U23 World Championship Trials at Mercer Lake, just outside of Princeton, and where he first learned to row in the spring of 2005. That win was the coolest thing I have ever gotten to experience first hand, watching the first 1500m of the race on my iPhone via ustream, and standing, watching him come past the 1750m marker with a 1/2 length open on the field. I was in total cheerleader/proud Dad mode – screaming for him, jumping up and down, carrying on as if I had any control of the outcome. As he rowed past me, I sprinted down to the finish line just in time to watch him cross the line. I don’t know how to put this more elegantly or better capture my feelings – it was SO cool. My little brother, officially a representative of the United States in international competition.
The following hours and days were fairly hectic, and I won’t say much about them, because my brother did a much better job of describing what happened over the next 3 weeks on his blog. One of the few skills that I do hold the trump card over my family is organizing and logistics, so as soon as he crossed the finish line, it became my job to do the following:
- organize flights for myself, Jon, Chris Buesser (BM1x), and Alan Kush* to depart in 10 days
- secure boats overseas that would appeal to both Jon and Chris
- figure out how to travel with oars, since Jon had custom C2s that could not be rented
- organize flights, hotels, and a car for our parents and the parents of Chris
- communicate all information to all necessary parties as needed
- figure out logistics of our travel over there: when Jon/Chris/Alan would leave Charlottesville (in 3 separate cars, no less), how and when Jon would be able to workout during our 36 hour travel time (the Sheraton @ JFK), arrange travel to the airport, find things to do in the Moscow airport (sleep on benches and use the free internet), and hope and pray that our oars made it to our final destination.
*Jon was coached all year by Frank Biller, head coach at UVA. Because of prior commitments, Jon knew going into trials that Frank could not travel. The original plan was for Alan to travel with Jon – a former teammate who had trained a lot with Jon over the past year and had also been coaching the men’s team. After the race we were approached by the family of Chris. His coach also could not travel. I then arranged for Chris to go down to UVA to train with Jon and Alan for a week, and that Alan and I would go as coaches – I would be declared as Jon’s coach, and Alan as Chris’s.
So, yea, it was a busy couple of days.
Again, if you want a recap of the actual racing, head over to Jon’s blog.
Being over there, with really shitty internet, gave me a lot of time to think and learn. I learned a lot about the quality of coaches and athletes that compete at these events, and despite some of that quality, was even more impressed by how much higher the standards were overseas. EVERYONE is fast. Throwing a boat together at the last minute rarely works, unless it is in a boat where the raw size of your talent-pool is significantly bigger than the rest of the competition combined, and that boat happens to be the boat that said sizable talent-pool spends 95% of their time rowing in (I am talking about the 8+, duh).
That being said, it was a great experience just to be so close to so many great athletes and coaches. The competition was fierce, as many an athlete had spent past years rowing on his/her nation’s senior team, but in the Olympic year had been “bumped down” to U23. By far my favorite athlete/boat over there was the winner of the BM1x (below). He rowed for Azerbaijan, and was a beast of a man – its unreal to think he was under 23 years old!
It was of course great to see the US Men and Women claim gold in both 8+ events, but it would have been pretty disappointing if that hadn’t happened. A huge congratulations is due to the 18 athletes and coaches that helped them reach their potential!
Finally, some comments on traveling:
- The Moscow airport kind of sucks. It is very clean and quiet, and has free internet, but very little in the way of distractions, shopping, food, etc.
- I don’t know if it is the language barrier or what, but Russians in general come off as very angry people.
- Lithuania is a beautiful country that most people will likely never visit – and that is a shame.
- The sunsets in Lithuania are unbelievable.
- Running along side the roads in Trakai was terrifying – supposedly they have the highest accident/death rate involving cars per capita in the world, and that does not surprise me at all. We would routinely be heading to/from the course in our chartered bus, only to be passed by a tractor trailer on the back roads.
- The architecture in the Old City of Vilnus is beautiful – my pictures do not do it justice.
The rest of this entry will go up as a separate blog post – maybe. As I look at it now, its pretty whiney, so I might sit on it for a while longer.
Below is a photo gallery of all my pictures. I’m not going to take the time to label them all, but I hope you enjoy at least some of them!