The Rotsee shone for the second day of the Lucerne World Cup. The rowers boated beneath blue skies and beautiful mountain vistas, but an intermittent headwind meant extra effort was required to complete the 2000-meter course. For some it was an abrupt elimination from the competition as they failed to progress to Sunday while those in the lightweight single sculls raced for the first medals of the weekend.
Internal selection battles raged within the men’s lightweight single sculls with two entries each from the French, German, and Italian federations. Several of the scullers narrowly missed selection into their team’s lightweight double sculls and therefore a shot at Tokyo 2021. The French Olympic and World Champion Pierre Houin and Gary O’Donovan the Irish Olympic silver medallist and World Champion are two notable examples. Despite Gary’s ability to pull like a dog or Pierre’s pedigree, they both missed a place on the podium.
The Chilean sculler Felipe Andres Cardenas Morales won the bronze medal and Italy’s Niels Torre won gold ahead of his compatriot Martino Goretti.
Goretti’s silver medal did nothing to diminish the delight of his noisy pink-shirted supporters. Goretti is fourteen years older than Torre and coaches at Erlenbach Rowing Club near Zurich.
After crossing the line Goretti paddled to the bank to thank his fans.
Italy featured on the podium in the women’s lightweight single sculls. The current European Champion Federica Cesarini took the bronze medal but wished she had competed with her lightweight double’s partner Valentina Rodini. Cesarini must be patient as Rodini recovers from injury.
The silver medal went to Ireland’s Lydia Heaphy and it was a golden debut for the Chinese athlete Huiru Li who turned 20 last week.
Can anyone stop Prahatsen? Another display of Russian dominance in the women’s single sculls. Hanna Prahatsen was four seconds clear of her nearest competitor in the A/B Semifinal and remains unbeaten since the Heat of the European Olympic Qualification Regatta. Austria’s Magdalena Lobnig took second place and hometown hero Jeannine Gmelin outsprinted China’s Yan Jiang for the last qualification spot to the A-Final.
The other A/B Semifinal was dominated by three scullers. American Kara Kohler led the first half and was closely followed by the 2020 European Champion Sanita Puspure and Rio Olympic silver medallist Victoria Thornley. The top three sculled with relative ease as their pursuers slid further back and out of contention. In the second kilometre Thornley moved to the front and crossed the finish line first. Sanita the Irish sculler took second and Kara third – almost ten seconds ahead of fourth place. Expect a full-throttle effort in Sunday’s A-Final.
The Greek sculler who qualified for Tokyo in April was again ruffling feathers in the men’s single sculls. Stefanos Ntouskos blasted off the start and established an early lead in the first A/B Semifinal. But it did not last. In the second half of the race Kjetil Borch dismantled the Greek attack and pushed home for the win. Griskonis and Ritter also passed Ntouskos in the third 500-meters. Ritter finished in third place two seconds behind fellow Lithuanian Griskonis.
A false start in the second A/B Semifinal meant the scullers needed two attempts to get off the blocks. Oliver Zeidler took longer than usual to get into poll position but once there the German World Champion held first place through to the finish. Despite Gennaro di Mauro’s 50 strokes per minute off the start line it was Sverri Nielsen who led at the first and second 500-meter markers. Ireland’s Daire Lynch came third behind Nielsen and denied Japan’s Ryuta Arakawa passage to the A-Final.
Of the six repechage races the men’s quadruple sculls proved the most intense. It provided a thrilling conclusion to the morning’s races. The Polish crew led for much of the race but faded at the final hurdle and limped home in third place. Great Britain attacked through the middle thousand and finally punched through for the win in the final 500 metres. Germany held on for second and the Chinese settled for fourth. Leaving the Czechs in last place and out of the competition.