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Racing Begins in One Week...

posted August 8, 2008 @ 6:50 AM  |  Elite Level Competition category

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Note: More thoughts from olympic rower Jennifer Kaido. Jen is a current U.S.Olympic team member and friend and former teammate of Sharon Kriz. (Sharon will be a member of Dynoswim's 24 Hour Liechtenstein Relay in November.) (Photo: Lia Pernell, Lindsay Meyer, Margot Shumway, and Jen Kaido)

~By Jen Kaido, August 3, 2008

Family and Friends,

Racing begins in one week and the final is in two weeks. It seems so far away. That's okay, it just leaves more time to work on technique and adjust to the time difference. My boatmates and I feel pretty good right now, but the first week we were stiff and cranky from the traveling. There were a couple tense moments during practice and exchange of words but we have talked about it and everyone is getting along and putting up with each other. It's a hard time right now, because we have spent all summer together, in the same boat, traveling and rooming together, and tensions are running high (among everyone) now that we're at the Olympics. You can feel it at the course, in the boatbays, on the bus....people are stressed, anticipating racing and some get irritated easily. It's hard not to get caught up in everything but I think after the first week, we have found how to deal with it and not let it affect our practice and relationship with one another.

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Photo: Margot Shumway, Jen Kaido, Lindsay Meyer, Lia Pernell, and Coach Matt Madigan

Last Wednesday we had the afternoon off and I went to The Great Wall of China! Our coordinator set up a bus so there was a group of about 20 that hopped aboard. It was about an hour bus ride there. It seems surreal to be so close, instead of 5,000 miles away. I have always seen pictures of it or heard about it, but I never thought that I would actually be walking on The Great Wall! We spent about an hour and a half there, which was the perfect amount of time. All I wanted to do was see it, take some pictures, walk around and experience the whole thing. It really is amazing and spectacular.

Apparently you can get a red card in rowing (we're a non-contact sport). We achieved this a few days ago in practice. Here's how it went down: The referee's that are on the water right now are part of BOCOG (Beijing Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games). I don't think any of them have seen rowing or understand it. They are given specific instructions - police your part of the course and make sure the rowers are following the rules. The only rule we have right now is lane assignments for practice. Usually, the middle lane is the 'dead lane' (no rowing in this lane), the outside lanes are for big boats (eights, fours, quads) and the lanes on the inside are for small boats (singles, doubles, pairs). You go up in one direction, spin, and go back down in the other direction. On this course, we are only supposed to be in the very outside lanes. We follow this rule unless there is a faster boat coming up on us or we are doing pieces with the eight, then we move one lane over, which is technically only for small boats. One time we were flagged to move back into the outside lane, but there was a men's quad that was passing us. If we did move over, we would of collided with them. Then there was a day we did race prep pieces with the women's eight. So they were in the outside lane and we were in the next lane over. We were obviously racing and the referee proceeded to follow our quad the WHOLE time and flag us to move over. There was an eight RIGHT NEXT TO US!!! We would of hit them if we moved over. But it was his job to not let any big boats in the small boat lanes.....and since we disobeyed him a couple times I think he got fed up with us and flashed a red card in the air. I was a little worried but not too worried after that but then we found out it was a red card which means a false start for our first race. You are only allowed 2 false starts...if we false start once in our heat, we're out, done. Last I heard though, someone from USRowing was going to complain to FISA (World Rowing Federation) and argue in our defense. I haven't heard anything else about it.

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This past week we have been riding bikes to the course. It is only a mile and a half down the road. It's been very peaceful and enjoyable. I like not waiting or rushing for the bus. I can take my time after practice to stretch or get worked on by our sports trainer. There are alot of locals who use that road to get to/from work. Most of them are friendly and excited to see us.

I had a cultural experience yesterday. There is a local grocery store down the road - Wu Mart - and I finally went. I really thought people just called it Wu Mart because it was like a Chinese Wal-Mart but it's actually called Wu Mart. The bottom floor was like a food market - raw (maybe fresh?) fish and meat just laying out on tables or ice, fruits and vegetables out for sale. There were some special aromas floating around...I tried to get through as quick as possible. The second floor though was like a mini Wal-Mart. Different sections such as housewares, clothes, toiletries, etc. There was usually an English description on the back of the packages so that I knew what I was getting. It was Margot's birthday (stroke seat of the quad) so we mainly bought chocolate, cookies, and a beer (or two) for her.

The past couple days have been really clear, no smog. I think the first day we got here was a REALLY bad day, because it hasn't been that bad since. It's been sunny, blue skies with a slight haze in the mountains. I think Mother Nature is working in China's favor and clearing up the air a little bit. I haven't experienced any breathing or allergy problems. Some of the girls on our team have highly sensitive allergies and they have been fine.

I have attached some pictures of myself and my boatmates in our hotel and at The Great Wall.

Until next time,

Jen

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