With all three Canadian crews in the finals of last weekend’s (March 29-30) World Cup in Sydney, Australia, the women’s pair of Natalie Mastracci of Thorold, Ont., and Susanne Grainger of London, Ont., reached the podium for a bronze medal.
“Susanne and I approached the 10 days of preparation before the final with a lot of focus,” said Mastracci of this new pairing. “We decided that no matter how little time we had together we came here with a mission. We built confidence in her rhythm and my calls throughout training and racing, and I’m proud of what we accomplished today.”
Mastracci, 2012 Olympic silver medalist in the women’s eight, and Grainger, beat teammates Christine Roper (Victoria, BC) and Ashley Brzozowicz (Peterborough, Ont.), who ended up in fourth in the women’s pair event. Veteran Brzozowicz is also an Olympic silver medalist.
New Zealand’s Louise Trappitt and Rebecca Scown won gold in the pair in 7:09.70, followed by as Min Zhang and Tian Miao of China in second with a time of 7:14.62. Mastracci and Grainger wrapped up the 2000-metre race in 7:17.02.
“It has been great to race down under in Australia again this year,” said John Keogh, Canadian women’s coach, who is an Australian native. “All the girls have really enjoyed the opportunity to test themselves early in the season. Natalie and Susanne did a great job preparing and executing three (heat, rep, and final) solid races.”
In addition to the two women’s pair crews, Canada was also entered in the women’s double event. Carling Zeeman (Cambridge, Ont.) and Antje von Seydlitz-Kurzbach (Smithers, BC) finished fifth overall in the double in 7:11.23. Australia won gold in this event in 6:54.69.
On-water conditions were calm and mild for the 21 countries racing at the 2014 World Rowing Cup I in Penrith, Australia, site of the 2000 Olympic regatta. Reports and results can be found at www.worldrowing.com
This was the Canadian women’s first chance to test their strengths and weaknesses after a long winter of training. They will now return to their base in London, Ontario, to begin the spring on-water phase with their teammates. The athletes will prepare for the summer racing season, with the goal of podium success at the World Championships in Amsterdam this August.