Monday, August 23, 2004

I *finally* saw some Olympic rowing yesterday (thanks, CINC) tuning in to see the finals in the women's and men's quad and 8 races.

I find it interesting that reporters refer to the 8s as the "elite" boats of rowing--as if to suggest that all other boats are somehow slightly less than elite. Rowers have differing opinions on which is the best type of racing to watch and/or participate in (usually defaulting to their own as their top choice), but it's true that 8s are the marquee event--most people, when they think of rowing, picture sweep 8s.

What's more, yesterday 'Merika gave them awesome stuff to picture, taking the gold in the men's competition and silver in the women's. Watching the men row was (forgive me...unabashed lerv warning) poetry. The rhythm and power and grace of this sport is really something to see. The timing of the rowers--they are COMPLETELY IN SYNCH with each other--the *thunk* as all 8 oars click into the oar locks at the finish and the catch--the slide and run of the boats, and the way they leap up with each drive--the cacophony of the coxswains charging the boat out of the gate and then settling into race pace: it is the epitome of "thrilling."

It was not the U.S.'s games as far as sculling was concerned, though. We didn't even make it to the medal round in most of our events, and the women's' quad came up short in their race yesterday, finishing an ass-waxing last. Now, that's last out of the best rowers IN THE WORLD, so it's definitely something to be proud of, but you can bet their locker room was anything but jubilant.

A factoid for your "Did you know....?" files: Rowing a 2000m race is the equivalent of playing 2 back-to-back basketball games. Daaaaamn.


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