Crew teams impacted by icy weather on return to Hanover

by Gayne Kalustian | 3/25/14 4:19pm

The heavyweight crew team piled on a bus for its annual 1,000-mile trip to Oak Ridge, Tenn., this spring interim, escaping Hanover’s icy weather to row on a flat 2,000-meter course for five hours every day.

The Oak Ridge course, heavyweight co-captain Stuart Maeder ’15 said, is one of the best in the country. And Dartmouth’s quarter system meant the Big Green crew team had the water to itself for much of the trip.

Yet upon its return to the College, the team found a challenge waiting. As winter lingers in Hanover, the Connecticut River remains frozen. Despite the potential setback, John Strizich ’14 said that the team remains undeterred.

While he said his freshman year the team rowed between sheets of ice on the Connecticut, the ice has melted by the start of spring term the past two years.

The team considered training on the Charles River in Boston, but after learning that the river is already filled with teams practicing, it amended its plans and will travel to Hartford, Conn., this weekend.

The lack of open water, Strizich said, may hurt the team this spring.

Alternative training methods like rowing tanks and ergs, both Strizich and Maeder said, are inadequate for the technical training the team needs. While an erg can measure output, it leaves room for poor technique. Similarly, the rowing tanks, Maeder noted, fail to mimic actual conditions that the crew would face in a race.

The teams, John Cresap ’16 said, need to improve technically to compete. Though the Big Green’s team members generally have a similar level of fitness to the athletes they race against, he said, their technique is lacking.

The heavyweight A boat finished 25th in the Head of the Charles regatta last fall, while the lightweight and women’s boats finished eighth and 20th, respectively. In the next regatta in Princeton, N.J., a week later, the heavyweight A boat finished 36th, the lightweight A boat 12th and the women’s A boat ninth.

With a new term underway, the crew team is looking to solidify its lineup. The roster is often interrupted by the D-Plan, disrupting the chemistry between the rowers and coxswain, Maeder said.

“It does become a gut instinct to row with someone,” he said. “It has to become a natural motion, so right when you make a switch, the boat will get a little bit slower. It’s the most clichéd thing to say, but people call it the ultimate team sport.”

The spring season for the heavyweights begins on April 5 with the Alumni Cup race against Columbia University, the College of the Holy Cross and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Overpeck Park, N.J.