Poznan World Cup Preview part 2 – The women’s events

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Time for part 2 of my World Cup preview, starting with the women’s single scull.

18 scullers

Vicky Thornley of Great Britain has made a superb start to the 2017 season. The Olympic silver medallist won silver behind Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland at the 1st World Cup and she followed that up by taking gold at the European Championships. That win made her the first senior British woman to win a championship gold medal in the W1X. The question now is can she follow up that success with another win? Great Britain have a 2nd boat racing in Poznan with Alice Baatz making her international debut, the Manchester university graduate learnt to row at Agecroft Rowing Club as part of the GB Start programme and joins the team after domestic success at Henley Women’s Regatta in 2016 and raced for Wales in the W1X at the Home International Regatta.

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Vicky Thornley of Great Britain

The main threat to Thornley is likely to come from China’s Olympic bronze medallist Jingli Duan. Poznan will be the first appearance of Duan in 2017 so it remains to be seen what sort of race shape she’s in.

Annekatrin Thiele of Germany finished in bronze at the European Championships and the W4X Olympic champion will be looking to step on in Poznan and make another podium finish.

Magdalena Lobnig was absent from the European Championships (with Birgit Puehringer racing in her stead to a 10th place – Puehringer is also racing in Poznan as AUT2). She did, however, race at the first World Cup in Belgrade finishing 6th. She will be looking to improve on that performance in Poznan and a podium is not out of the question.

The Irish have two scullers racing, Sanita Puspure and Monika Dukarska. Puspure made a solid start to her 2017 campaign with a 5th place in Belgrade but was forced to withdraw from the Europeans due to illness. Given the strength of the field a medal is probably beyond her at the moment, but an A-Final spot is a definite possibility. Durkaska is making a return to the international stage for the first time since 2015 when she finished 5th in the W4- at the World Championships. Injury kept her out of the whole of 2016 but it’s great to see her back. Se warmed up for Poznan by winning Open W1X at the Metropolitan Regatta at Eton Dorney last weekend.

New Zealand’s representative in the W1X, taking over the mantle from the great Emma Twigg, is the 23 year old Hannah Osborne. From the small town of Te Kuiti on New Zealand’s North Island, she makes her senior international debut following 2 years on the U23 team in the BW4X where she placed 5th in 2013 and 7th in 2016.

Sweden’s Lovisa Claesson won silver at the U23 World Championships last season and made her 2017 season debut at the European Championships finishing a strong 5th.

The USA have entered two boats in Poznan. Racing as USA1 is Lauren Schmetterling. She was part of the awesome W8 that won gold in Rio. Poznan marks her first international appearance in a sculling boat so it remains to be seen how her sweep skills transfer to the challenges of the single scull. The 2nd USA sculler is far more experienced with a blade in each hand, Meghan O’Leary has raced internationally in the W2X for the last 4 years culminating in a 6th place at the Rio Olympics.

Other scullers to watch are Liang Tian racing as CHN2 and Lucie Zabova of the Czech Republic.

My picks…I’m trying to be impartial but I really think Thornley is on a roll at the moment and could well take another gold. I’m going for Duan in silver with Thiele in bronze.

 

W2-

 

10 pairs

This has the makings of a New Zealand v USA battle. Both countries have two boats entered with the clear favourites being the no.1 New Zealand boat of Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler. They raced in the W8 at Rio and were unlucky to miss out on the medals ending up 4th. At the 2015 World Championships they doubled-up in the W8 and W2-  taking silver medals in both events.

The 2nd New Zealand boat are a much less experienced pairing with Jackie Gowler and Kirstyn Goodger. Gowler raced in the U23 W8 that finished 4th at the 2016 World Championships and Goodger makes her senior debut after racing on the Junior team in 2009.

The two USA boats are also a mix of experience and youth. Racing as USA1 are Megan Kalmoe and Tracy Eisser. These two raced in the W4X that won the World Championships in 2015 and went on to finish 5th at the Olympics. Kalmoe is no stranger to this boat class having won silver with Kerry Simmonds at the 2014 World Championships.

 

The 2nd USA boat is Kathrin Roach and Sophia Vitas. Cornell Graduate Roach raced in the U23 BW8 that won gold in 2014 and her partner, Vitas makes her international debut having only started rowing as a “walk-on” at Wisconsin University in 2013.

The British won in Belgrade, but illness has meant it’s a completely different crew racing in Poznan. An Oxford Blue, Anastasia Chitty won a silver medal in the U23 BW8 in 2014 and also finished 4th in the W2- at the World University Rowing Championships in 2016. She’s joined by international debutant Rebecca Girling. The Cardiff University Psychology graduate raced at the World University Championships last year finishing 4th in the W2X.

The Australians have Sarah Hawe from Tasmania and Molly Goodman from Adelaide. Both of them are doubling-up in the W4-. Hawe, the oldest member of the Australian squad, makes her first senior international appearance after racing on the junior team back in 2005. Goodman raced in the W8 in Rio and raced in the W2- with Genevieve Horton at the 2015 World Championships finishing 1st in the C-Final (13th overall).

The Chinese will be a real threat for a medal, Min Zhang and Tian Miao have raced in this boat class off and one over the past couple of years culminating in a 7th place at the Rio Olympics.

The final two crews to mention are the Irish, Aifric Keogh and Aileen Crowley and the Chilean Abraham twins Melita and Antonia (who finished 7th in the BW2- last year and 17th in the LW2X at the Rio Olympics).

My picks….I think the no.1 Kiwi boat will win, and win convincingly with USA1 in silver and bronze going to the Chinese.

 

W2X

9 crews

The Czech Republic won the European Championships on their home water in Racice. Krystina Fleissnerova and Lenka Antasova have been a settled pairing since the Bled International Regatta of 2015. They won bronze at the 2015 European Championships and went on to win the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta. In Rio they finished 4th in the B-final to take 10th overall. So far in 2017 they have had an excellent season, gold in Racice was preceded by bronze in Belgrade. They will be looking to cement their status as the leading European crew with a good medal in Poznan.

But, the Czechs will face very strong competition led by two German doubles. Racing as GER1 are Daniela Schultze and Freida Hammerling. These two were in the W4X that won gold at the European Championships. Germany 2 is, perhaps, the stronger of the two boats with Olympian Marie-Catherine Arnold joined by London 2012 silver medallist Julia Richter. Richter raced in the W1X throughout 2015 and 2016 without a huge amount of success and she failed to qualify for Rio. She will be much happier back in a crew boat and the combination with Arnold has a huge amunt of experience.

China have two boats racing with CHN2 looking the stronger boat. This crew has half of the W4X boat that finished 6th in Rio, Ling and Xinyue Zhang. 20 year old Ling Zhang made her senior international debut way back in 2013 just 2 years after starting rowing when she finished 9th in the W2X at the Eton World Cup. Her partner Xinyue as only raced the W2X once, when she finished 10th at the 2nd World Cup in 2015.

The other China boat contains another member of the W4X Olympic boat, Yan Jiang. She’s joined by Jingjing Li, a slightly unknown quantity.

The British, Georgia Francis and Emily Carmichael, finished 7th in their first race together at the European Championships. Given the relatively small field they will be fully expecting to make the A-final and could well be challenging for a bronze.

Australia have a strong and experienced duo. Olympia Aldersey is the current holder of the World best time in this event; 6:37.31 set in 2014 with Sally Kehoe (although they “only” took the bronze in the final). She’s a highly decorated athlete with World Cup and World Championship medals galore. She was drafted into the W8 for Rio when the Russians were disqualified. Her partner, Maddy Edmunds is another Rio Olympian having raced in the W4X. She took gold at U23 level in 2012 and also has a number of World Cup medals to her credit. The Australians have high hopes for this crew and they will expecting to contend for the medals.

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Olympia Aldersey (right) with partner Sally Kehoe. holders of the W2X World Best Time (photo: TheChronicle.com.au)

Norway’s Thea Helseth and Marianne Madsen raced at the Europeans making the A-Final.

The final crew in the event are the New Zealanders, Brooke Donoghue and Olivia Loe. Donoghue raced in the W4X last year that just missed qualifying for Rio and her partner, Loe raced the W2- at the 2nd and 3rd World Cups in 2016 with a best finish of 6th in Poznan.

My picks…It’s going to be really tight between the Czechs, Germans and Australians. I’m going to plump for a Green & Gold win with the Germans in silver and the Czechs in bronze.

 

W4-

6 crews

With the IOC officially confirming that this boat class will be included at the Tokyo Olympics (at the expense of the LM4-) there will be increasing interest in these races. The USA have two crews racing with USA2 (Grace Latz, Molly Bruggeman, Victoria Opitz & Emily Regan) doubling up in the W8. Regan won gold in the W8 in Rio and Opitz won the World Championships in 2015. Latz is another Rio Olympian who raced in the W4X that finished 5th, and the final member of the crew, Bruggeman, won silver in this boat class last year.

The USA1 boat is slightly less experienced, although it does include Kristine O’Brien and Corinne Schoeller who won silver in this event at the 2016 World Championships. The 3rd member of the crew, Erin Boxberger is making her senior debut after win two U23 gold medals in 2014. The final member of the crew is Kelly Pierce, the Princeton graduate makes her senior debut after winning bronze in the U23 BW8 back in 2011.

The Poles are the only crew who have already raced this season, Monika Ciaciuch, Joanna Dittmann, Anna & Maria Wierzbowska, took silver in Belgrade and followed that up at the European Championships with another silver medal.

As mentioned above, Australia have a couple of athletes doubling up in the W2- (Hawe and Goodman). They are joined by fellow Olympian Lucy Stephan and U23 medallist Katrina Werry.

The other two crews racing are the Chinese and Ukrainians. The Chinese have three senior debutants with just Xiatong Cui having raced at senior level racing in the W8 at the Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta. The Ukrainians have a similar profile to the Chinese with only one athlete, Kateryna Kozyr who has raced at senior level (racing in the repecharge in the W8 at the 2015 European Championships).

My picks…this could well be a USA 1,2 with the Poles and Aussies fighting it out for the bronze.

 

W4X

4 crews

Unfortunately illness has meant that the British have had to withdraw from Poznan which is particularly disappointing given the excellent bronze they took at the Europeans.

This looks to be a clear battle between the Germans and the Poles for the gold. Germany have two of the crew that won the European Championships (Charlotte Reinhardt and Frauke Hundeling) joined by the 4th W2X from Racice Carlotta Nwajide and Julia Leiding. The Poles won the 1st World Cup but were somewhat surprised to miss out on the medals in Racice.

The battle for bronze will be between the Australians and the Chinese. The Aussies are a young crew with 3 U23 athletes making the step up to the senior team, the fourth member of the crew, Genevieve Horton raced in the W2X in Rio finishing 9th.

China have a couple of Olympians on board, with Yuwei Wang and Yang Lyu (6th in the W4X and 11th in the W2X respectively). The rest of the crew, Jie Wang and Fei Wang have both raced internationally at World Cups.

My picks…Germany ahead of Poland with the Aussies taking the bronze.

 

W8

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5 crews

Whenever you see a USA crew in the W8 entry list it’s a safe assumption to say they are favourites for gold.  This year’s incarnation has an Olympic Champion, Emily Regan along with fellow Olympian Grace Latz and 2015 W8 World champion Victoria Opitz. 5 of the rest of the crew have gold medals at U23 level and it would be a major shock for a USA W8 to miss gold (something that last happened at the 1st World Cup in Sydney back in 2013).

The really interesting battle will be for the silver and bronze. This is likely to be between the Kiwis and Brits.

The British have made two changes to the crew that finished 4th in Racice with Karen Bennett replacing the ill Fiona Gammond and Matilda Horn taking over the coxes seat from Erin Wysocki-Jones.

The Kiwis have 5 of the crew that finished 4th in Rio along with Lucy Spoors and Georgia Perry from the W4x that missed qualification for Rio and the final member of the crew is Ashlee Rowe an U23 bronze medallist from 2014.

China have 2 crews racing with CHN1 containing 7 Olympic debutants along with Yuting Ku and Songsong Xie who raced at the U23 World Championships in 2015.

CHN2 have 4 debutants along with 3 rowers with limited World Cup experience and former junior international Shengan Li.

My picks….USA gold, New Zealand silver with GB in bronze.

 

LW1X

17 scullers

Sweden’s Emma Fredh ended 2016 as the world silver medallist in this boat class. In 2017 she picked up where she left off taking gold at the European Championships. That level of performance means she will probably start as marginal favourite in Poznan.

emma fredh

Emma Fredh of Sweden. Photo: Borås Tidning

Fredh’s main competition will probably come from Denise Walsh. The Irish woman is having an excellent 2017 after a somewhat disappointing 2016 which saw her finish 4th at the Europeans and 19th at the Poznan World Cup. But, in 2017 she’s already picked up a couple of medals taking silver at both the Belgrade World Cup and the European Championships (the first championship medal of her senior career). Another medal in Poznan is a definite possibility for the girl from Skibbereen.

Another sculler having an excellent start to their 2017 campaign is Switzerland’s Patricia Merz. She won in Belgrade and followed that up with bronze in Racice. Like Walsh, the medals she’s won this season are the first of her senior international career which stretches back to 2013.

Poland’s Joanna Dorociak has had a mixed 2017. A strong showing I Belgrade where she took the bronze medal was followed by a somewhat disappointing 10th place at the Europeans. She’ll be hoping for a better performance on home waters and an A-Final finish at the very least.

Russia’s Anastasia Lebdeva is another one to watch, with A-Final finishes at both the 1st World Cup and the European Championships.

New Zealand have entered Jackie Kiddle in this event, but as she is also entered in the LW2X it remains to be seen if she does compete in both classes. If she does race the single she will definitely be a threat for the medals. She last raced this boat class at the Lucerne World Cup in 2015 and just missed the medals. She went on to win gold in the U23 BLW2X later in the year and followed that up with silver in the same class last year. A prodigious talent she will be a threat in whichever boat she races in.

Another challenger will be the USA’s Mary Jones. A member of the famous Cambridge Boat Club in Boston, she won the LW1X at the 2015 an American games and just missed the medals at the 2016 World Chamionships.

Other scullers to watch for include Germany’s Leonie Pieper (world LW4X champion in 2015 and 6th at this year’s Europeans in the LW1X) and Austria’s Anja Manoutschehri (5th in Belgrade and 11th at the Europeans).

My picks….this has the makings of a really good battle. I’m going to go for Fredh of Sweden to continue her good run ahead of Jones in silver and Kiddle (if she races) in bronze (Merz of Switzerland if the Kiwi doesn’t race).

 

LW2X

9 crews

A relatively small field for this Olympic class event but it’s very strong nonetheless.

Poland will surely start as favourites, Weronika Deresz and Martyna Mikolajczak were 7th in Rio and have had an imperious start to the 2017 season taking gold at both the first World Cup and the European Championships.

The British changed their line-up after a lacklustre performance in Belgrade. Despite taking the silver it was the manner of the performance that concerned selectors with Copeland and Taylor leading for over ¾ of the race before being rowed through by the Poles. As a result Taylor was swapped with Emily Craig. The new pairing took bronze in Racice with a much more satisfying performance. They will be looking to build on that performance in Poznan and a podium finish will be seen as “job done”.

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Emily Craig and Kat Copeland of Great Britain (Photo: British Rowing)

GB have a 2nd boat racing with Ellie Piggott and Gemma Hall. Piggott won gold in the LW4X last year and Hall raced the LW1X finishing in the B-Final in Rotterdam. They will be looking to push their no.1 boat as hard as possible and an A-Final finish would be their “job done” as well.

The biggest challengers to the Poles are likely to be the Kiwis, Zoe McBride and Jackie Kiddle. McBride is a double World Champion in the LW1X and is holder of the World Best Time in that event. She has a remarkable competitive record since joining the senior team in 2015 has lost only once (finishing 3rd at the Lucerne World Cup in 2016). Poznan sees her reform the partnership with Kiddle with whom she won the U23 BLW2X title in 2015. This has the makings of a world-beating combination.

 

China have two boats racing with the No.1 boat of Cuiming Chen and Feihong Pan looking to be the strongest. Pan is an Olympic bronze medallist from Rio in this boat class and Chen raced in the LW2X in 2015 finishing 7th. The Chinese lightweight women are always dangerous in this boat class and could be challenging for a medal.

The 2nd Chinese boat contains international debutant Fang Chen. She’s joined by world medallist Dandan Pan. Pan made waves in the Rowing World when she won a silver medal at the 2011 World Championships aged just 15 (which I believe made her the youngest ever senior world medallist). It’ll be interesting to see how this new combination gets on, and the inter-team rivalry with their compatriots.

Australia are another nation with two boats racing. AUS1 is Alice Arch and Georgia Miansarow. Arch is making her senior debut following a 5th place in the BL2X at the U23 World Championships. Miansarow was an U23 world medallist in 2014 and in 2015 she was a member of the LW4X that just missed out on a medal at the Amsterdam World Championships.

The 2nd Aussie boat is Georgia Nesbitt and Amy James. Nesbitt was 9th in the world in the LW1X last years and James raced in the BLW2X in 2015 and followed that up with gold in the LW1X at the World University Games in 2016. The plan for these two Aussie boats is to race as the LW4X at the World Championships but with no LW4X event in Poznan they are racing the doubles.

The final crew in the event are the Germans, Fini Sturm and Leonie Pleiss. Sturm raced this boat class in Rio finishing 11th with Pleiss taking 10th in the LW1X at the World Championships. So far this season they have raced at the European Championships finishing 1st in the B-Final.

My picks…another great contest in store between the New Zealanders and Poles. I’m going for a Kiwi gold with the Poles in silver and the British getting the better of the Chinese for bronze

 

 

 

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