The first rowing medals of the Rio Games will be awarded on Wednesday in the finals of the men’s and women’s quadruple sculls. Team USA will be looking for a return to the podium in the women’s quadruple sculls after winning bronze in the event at London 2012. Two members of that medal-winning crew are in the boat in Rio, with Megan Kalmoe and Adrienne Martelli returning, and they are joined by first-time Olympic competitors Tracy Eisser and Grace Latz.
The U.S. crew has had a shaky start to their racing in Rio, faltering in the opening heat and then capturing the final place in the medal final by just .06 seconds ahead of Australia. The U.S. has a history of slow starts and fast finishes however, and captured the 2015 world championship after a similarly sleepy start in the event. A podium finish for the U.S. is not out of the question, but it will take the best race the four Americans can produce.
"It's just like practice," said Latz. "We prepared for this. I've been in the quad before; we've been to many start lines before, and we've seen a lot of the same athletes. So, yes, it's an Olympics, but we're competing against a lot of the same women."
Australia, Estonia and Ukraine are favored to reach the podium in the men's quadruple sculls. The U.S. does not have a crew competing in this event in Rio.
Prior to the quadruple sculls finals, Day 5 racing will feature semifinals and repechages with medal-race advancement implications in six events.
The U.S. women’s pair of Grace Luczak and Felice Mueller dominated their opening race at the Rio Games, and look to take another step towards an Olympic medal. Luczak and Mueller have been in great form all summer, but seem to be peaking just at the right moment for these Olympics.
The U.S. will face the gold-medal favorites Heather Stanning and Helen Glover of Great Britain, along with Poland, Italy, South Africa and Romania, and will need a top-three performance to advance to the medal race.
The U.S. men’s four of Seth Weil, Matt Miller, Charlie Cole and Henrik Rummel will also contest the semifinals in their event, with the top three from each of the two semifinals moving on to the medal race on Friday. The U.S. had a solid, if unspectacular start to the regatta, qualifying directly for the semifinal, but will need a top-shelf performance to reach the Olympic final.
"If you want to win a medal, you've got to be able to win a semi, so that's what we are looking forward to doing on Wednesday," said Weil. "It's time to step up and really throw down. It's good to advance. Monday wasn't our best piece, but we just have to step it up on Wednesday and see what we are made of. "
Cole and Rummel both competed in this event at London 2012, winning the bronze medal in a dramatic finish behind Great Britain and Australia.
The U.S. faces strong crews from Italy and Australia, as well as Greece, South Africa and Russia in the semifinal.
The U.S. men’s eight is in action in a five-boat repechage, seeking a top-four finish to take their place in Sunday’s Olympic final.
The U.S. men’s crew of coxswain Sam Ojserkis, Austin Hack, Rob Munn, Mike Di Santo, Steve Kasprzyk, Glenn Ochal, Alex Karwoski, Hans Struzyna and Sam Dommer were drawn into their opening heat with the reigning Olympic champs Germany, and gave a respectable performance in finishing second in that race.
The U.S. men have said that their goal is to win the repechage. A win would establish the U.S. solidly as a medal contender in Sunday’s final.
"We are just going to go race the boat next to us and go as fast as we can from the start all the way to the finish, just keep it simple,” said Kasprzyk, the only returner from the U.S. men’s eight that finished fourth at London 2012. “The Olympics are spread out, so going to the rep is not necessarily a disadvantage. Either way, we'd be doing work on Wednesday, and now we are lining up against boats we'll be racing later on, hopefully. It's just more practice, and there's nothing wrong with that."
The U.S. will face New Zealand, the Netherlands, Poland and Italy in the repechage.
In the lightweight women’s double, the U.S. pairing of Kate Bertko and Devery Karz bounced back from a tough opening heat to earn a spot in the semifinals, where they will take on five teams, including event favorites the Netherlands and medal contenders Ireland and Canada for a berth in Friday’s medal final.
Likewise, in the lightweight men’s double, the U.S. crew of Andrew Campbell and Josh Konieczny are looking to make the best of a bright start to the racing, and are looking for a place among the six crews that will contest the medals on Friday. The U.S. will face France, Ireland, Great Britain, China and Germany, with the top three to move on.
The lightweight events at the Olympics traditionally bring some of the deepest and most competitive racing at the regatta, in part because all competitors are essentially the same size. For lightweight men, the crew must average 70 kg (154.3 lb), with no rower over 72.5 kg (159.8 lb), while for women, the crew average is 57 kg (125.6 lb) with no individual rower weighing more than 59 kg (130.0 lb).
Concluding the day of racing are the C/D semifinals in the men’s and women’s singles and men’s and women’s lightweight doubles, as well as the C-Final of the women’s pair. These races are placement races for crews that have been eliminated from medal contention.