More U.S. Boats Advance

Aug. 24, ATHENS – The wind was again a factor in Tuesday’s flatwater sprint canoe/kayak races in Schinias. The second day of qualifying heats saw the wind whip across the lake causing delays in start times due to problems getting boats into the starting block. The choppy water also resulted in a boat tipping over prior to the start of the women’s K-1 500m race. All five American boats advanced to Thursday’s semifinals at the Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Centre.


Rami Zur (Berkeley, Calif.) easily moved on in the men’s K-1 500m event after finishing second in his heat with a time of 1:40.349, just fractions of a second behind Russia’s Alan van Coller. Zur, who competed in Sydney in 2000 for Israel, nearly missed the start of his race after misjudging the distance from the boathouse to the starting line.


“I paddled really fast to get to the line and had to start almost immediately. But I’m happy with what happened, and I had a good race,” Zur said.


Zur also advanced to the semis in the men’s K-2 500m race with partner Bartosz Wolski (New Britain, Conn.). The duo completed their first race together with a time of 1:31.893.


“It was a little different for us because it was our first race ever racing together. We didn’t know what to expect, but our next race will be even better,” Wolski said.


“Our race was good but not like we’re used to feeling. Every time we paddle together, though, it feels better and better,” Zur said.


The C-2 500m team of Jordan Malloch (Seattle, Wash.) and Nate Johnson (Seattle, Wash.) slipped into the semifinals with a time of 1:48.172. Malloch and Johnson also advanced to Wednesday’s semifinals in the men’s C-2 1,000m after qualifying on Monday.


On the women’s side, Carrie Johnson (San Diego, Calif.) will race in the semifinals after finishing the women’s K-1 500m event in 1:57.708. The start of her heat was delayed after Poland’s Aneta Pastuszka fell out of her boat in the rough waters. Johnson will also race in Wednesday’s semifinals in the women’s K-4 500m event.


The Hawaiian pair of Kathy Colin (Kailua, Hawaii) and Lauren Spalding (Maui, Hawaii) moves on after finishing their heat in the women’s K-2 500m race with a time of 1:45.386. Colin and Spalding are also members of the women’s K-4 500m team.


“I think this race was better than yesterday’s [K-4 500m]. We’ll only get better as the week goes on,” Spalding said.


“We had more in us today, and we’re both very happy with the verdict. We have the competency and confidence to execute our game plan, and I think we did that very well. We were nervous, but we used those nerves to give us power on the water,” Colin said.


Head coach Jerzy Dzaidkowiec is looking for at least two of the four U.S. boats competing in Wednesday’s semifinals to move on to the finals.


“The semifinals are very important. In the first two days, almost everyone qualifies, so we’ll see the value of the boats tomorrow and Thursday,” Dzaidkowiec said.


The first day of the semifinals gets underway Wednesday with Benjie Lewis (Aventura, Fla.) competing in the men’s K-1 1,000m race at 8:40 a.m. Athens time, seven hours earlier on the east coast here, and 10 hours earlier on the west coast.


The women’s K-4 500m team of C. Johnson, Colin, Spalding and Marie Mijalis (Miami, Fla.) lines up for their start at 9:10 a.m.


Jeff Smoke (Buchanan, Mich.) and Andy Bussey (Kailua, Hawaii) will race in the men’s K-2 1,000m at 9:20 a.m.


The C-2 team of Malloch and N. Johnson have a start time of 9:40 a.m. in the men’s C-2 1,000m event.


The top three finishers in each race move on to Friday’s finals.

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