World Cup I: Belgrade, Serbia

Racing season is finally here! Although the women’s squad got the opportunity to race at the first NSR and the Qualification Regatta, this World Cup officially marks our first opportunity to test our speed internationally and get a feel for where we stand. The US has a squad of 14 racing here (including 3 adaptive athletes looking to qualify for the Paralympic Games), so quite a smaller number of athletes than I’m used to.

After arriving in Zurich early Sunday morning, we caught a second flight to Belgrade. We dropped our bags off at the hotel (let me tell you we have a lot of stuff; food, recovery gels and drinks, training and racing gear, books, cameras, the list goes on and on) and then immediately left for the course. Not only is it pretty dry and warm here (temperatures have been in the 80s), but there is a lot going on everywhere you turn. Unlike other race courses set in serene and isolated locations, this place is bustling with people…all the time. There is even a bungee jump at the 1100 meter mark, amongst various cafes, bars and sunbathers. Needless to say I have had to be extra focused while rowing, or at least I really try to be. The other fun thing about the course is all the stray dogs roaming around. While they do look a little scraggly, they are super friendly and even follow us on our warm up runs. Our favorite one so far is the little chubby one with black fur around his eye who we named Chester.

Racing started today thankfully. It’s always nice to have at least a few days to adjust to a new time zone, but there’s a lot of waiting involved. And after racing the heat today, we get to wait some more. The hotel has pretty good Internet though and Caroline and I are currently ensconced in the second season of Downton Abbey, so all this extra time hasn’t been too bad… The food is good, lots of vegetables and interesting meats. No one has gotten food poisoning so far thank goodness! There’s not much to report on regarding racing as of yet. The heats are always inconclusive because every country seems to approach them differently, with some crews going all out for the entire piece and others holding back quite a bit. Things are bound to get more interesting tomorrow in the semis.

So for now, we are relaxing and waiting, watching an embarrassing amount of Downton Abbey and eager to race some more! After this weekend, our group of 8 will join the rest of the women’s squad in Breisach, Germany for a two week training camp. So, lots of fun things to look forward to this month.

Until next time!

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Our hotel room at the Hotel Belgrade Continental

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The view from our hotel room

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Two stray dogs, the closest one is Chester, obviously.

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View of the course from near the finish. Note the bungee jump on the right hand side.

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