Monday, November 8, 2010


Our race Sunday was so much fun. The experience itself was one of the most memorable of my life. The huge, exuberant New Zealand crowd was roaring so loudly as the race before ours, the men’s double, came into the last 500 meters that it was loud at the starting line, nearly a mile away. We locked into our blocks, waited for the light, and then surged out of the start.

Being a part of an eight is an awesome experience in every race, especially ones where you lock into a rhythm and commitment together. We executed our race plan as we came down the course, and despite the few wobbles and dips that came with bumpy water and a focus on bending the oar with everything we had, it did what we’d hoped it would. We finished with open water on the field and the gold medal we’ve been working towards for the last fifteen months.

Waiting for the awards ceremony, I found myself in tears—it hadn’t hit home that we’d won, that all of my work over the last five years and especially my training since joining the squad in Princeton last October had resulted in earning a seat in the boat I’ve dreamed of rowing in for even longer than that, and that as part of that boat, we’d achieved the goal we’d all set for ourselves. It was a powerful and emotional realization, and I was so happy to be able to share my joy with the women with whom I’d achieved these things.

There is so much further to go, and so much more work to do, before my next intermediate goal—the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia—and my big goal, the London 2012 Olympics, but this moment is so special and I’m celebrating and sharing it with my boatmates and teammates. I’ll be traveling around the North Island in New Zealand for the next week with my friends Stesha Carle (W2x) and Susan Francia (W2-), getting to explore a bit more of this amazing country than what we’ve been able to see around the hotel, course, and on the bus rides between the two! I can’t wait for our adventures, and then to return stateside and be able to share this experience with my family, friends, and teammates.

Thanks, everyone, for following this blog. I plan to continue blogging about training, racing, and my journey towards the 2012 London Olympics, so please check back and check in to learn about where you can read about my adventures! Thanks, too, for all the support and encouragement. None of us would be able to make it to the World Rowing Championships, to the Olympics, or even make it through a year of training at this level without a tremendous amount of support, encouragement, and love from those who understand what this dream is about. So…thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I can’t wait to keep going in pursuit of this dream, and thank you for helping me achieve it.



Friday, November 5, 2010

Finals underway in NZ

Today saw some extremely tough racing conditions for crews across the board, and while all countries had a tough time of it, it was still disappointing for several of our boats. To be honest, while watching the racing, it seemed as though the conditions might have been unfair, an idea that was also mentioned by the race commentators. That thought was more upsetting than thinking about my teammates having to slog through the wind and whitecaps, finishing with times a minute slower than the heats and semis a few days ago.

However, our four ended up recovering from a pretty gruesome crab, doing a great job by not only getting back into contention for a medal but actually ending up on the medal stand. Our women's quad and men's four both raced extremely well and finished fifth in their respective A-finals. In the B-finals this morning, our men's quad raced a gutsy race against New Zealand, finishing a close second. The light women's double was edged at the line by China, also finishing second. Our light men's pair held onto third ahead of Spain. The light men's double had a tough race, finishing fifth. Our crews racing in their A/B semis this morning also had some difficult races: Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg finished fifth in the light men's single, and our men's double ran out of race course in trying to catch France. Both will race in the B-finals on Sunday.

Everyone's wondering a bit what the conditions are going to be like for tomorrow. We have several crews racing tomorrow: the morning starts off with the B-finals for the light men's four, men's pair, women's single, and men's single. Racing will begin at 11:53am local time, or 6:53pm Eastern/3:53pm Pacific. After the lunch break, we'll have the finals for the men's coxed pair, the women's light quad, and the men's light quad, and finally, the women's pair. Those races will begin at 2:03pm local time, or 9:53pm Eastern/6:53pm Pacific.

You can watch all racing live streaming on World Rowing (the link will take you to the pages to watch racing).

If you're following anyone's racing on the team, now is a great time to reach out to them and let them know that you're supporting them. I was so impressed with all of my teammates' performances today--racing so well in such challenging conditions. No matter how fit you are, having to race for a minute longer than you've trained for, plus dealing with whitecaps and huge wind gusts, takes a lot of guts, and I think the USA showed today that they were up to the challenge.

Let's hope for improving conditions for the next two days of finals, and good luck to everyone racing tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

One down, one to go in NZ!

So we finally got a chance to race yesterday, and got to line up in some great racing conditions and give it our first go in this lineup! We had a really solid piece, got some good things to work on for the final, and are looking forward to getting to race again on Sunday!

Today brought several more good races for our team: the W2x and W4x won their repechages, as did the M4-, and Julie Nichols in the LW1x advanced to the A-Final. We also saw some tough races, with the M4x, LW2x, and LM2x duking it out but winding up heading into the petites.

It's a definite change in atmosphere when racing starts. We've been hanging out training for a couple of weeks together, but starting Sunday, we all get wrapped up into our own racing, our own training, our own boats. It's nice to have dinner to socialize, but other than congratulating teammates on races well rowed, we start talking about the races themselves--and competition--a lot less. I guess it's because we spend enough time hashing out the results, good or bad, on our own and with our coaches and roommates and families, that meal times become more of a break from thinking about racing constantly.

I'm lucky to have both of my parents here to watch my racing this weekend. It's been nice to see them, because I usually only see them a few times a year, when we're training in California. It's also nice to meet teammates' parents and families. My boatmate's sister has been adventuring all over the North Island, and we've been vicariously living it up through her stories of bungy jumping and other craziness!

We're looking to log some good training and a lot of rest between now and our final on Sunday. Thanks to everyone who tuned in yesterday. I didn't realize that there wasn't video playing on the website, and it was just the "Live Results Viewer" broadcasting flags moving across the screen. There will indeed be live streaming video of the racing for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday finals on and, though! A big storm coming through on Friday could change around race times, but I'll post the times for the US crews as soon as they're available.

Good luck to the US Adaptive crews racing their finals tomorrow: Ron Harvey, in the ASM1x Final B at 2:33pm (Wednesday, 9:33pm Eastern, 6:33pm Pacific), and our LTA4+ of Andrew Johnson, Eleni Englert, Emma Preuschl, Eric McDaniel, and Jennifer Sichel racing in the A Final at 3:55pm (Wednesday, 10:55pm Eastern, 7:55pm Pacific)!

P.S. Bonus tune added to the playlist from the last post: our boat's current new favorite, supplied by music guru and pair partner extraordinaire Elle Logan. Check it out at the link below:

Jolene (Remix)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Race Ready: 2010 NZ WRC Playlist

Just in time for our race tomorrow...the playlist has arrived! Culled from the top tunes on my teammates' playlists and some of my own favorites. I've linked them to the iTunes store when available, so they're right at your fingertips!

Be sure to watch all the racing on My race has been moved up to 11:35am tomorrow, so tune in Monday at 3:35pm Pacific and 6:35pm Eastern! Thanks for all the support, and good luck to all Team USA members racing tomorrow!

Race Ready: 2010 NZ WRC Playlist

1. Shark in the Water - V.W. Brown

2. How You Like Me Now - The Heavy

3. Heartbeat (Heartbeats 3.52) - Towa Tei

4. That's Not My Name - The Ting Tings

5. N.A.D.I.A. O.H. - Nadia Oh

6. In For the Kill - La Roux

7. Gigolo (ft. R. Kelly) - Nick Cannon

8. Candy Shop - 50 Cent & Olivia

9. Like a G6 (Disco Fries Remix) - Far East Movement

11. Gettin’ Over You (ft. Fergie & LMFAO) - Dave Guetta & Chris Willis

12. Party & Bullshit (Ratatat Remix) - Notorious B.I.G.

13. Ready for the Floor - Hot Chip

14. Lovesick - Lindstrøm & Christobelle

15. Hot (Ratatat Remix) - Missy Elliott

16. Crown on the Ground - Sleigh Bells

17. Tell ‘Em - Sleigh Bells

18. Messages - Planetakis

19. Take It All Off - Danko Jones

21. Right Hand On My Heart - The Whigs

22. Shut Up and Let Me Go - The Ting TIngs

23. D.A.N.C.E. - Justice

24. Give Me a Beat - Girl Talk

25. DARE (DFA Remix) - Gorillaz (**the last few minutes of this can get a little long, but the track is great!)

26. Time Won’t Let Me Go - The Bravery

27. Where Do I Begin - Chemical Brothers

28. Criminal - Fiona Apple

29. F**k You (Cee Lo Green Cover Version) - Tribute Mega Stars

30. Bag of Hammers - Thao Nguyen & the Get Down Stay Down

32. Sleepyhead - Passion Pit

33. Beautiful Life - Gui Boratto

34. Memories (ft. Kid Cudi) - David Guetta

35. Giving Up the Gun - Vampire Weekend

36. Radioactive - Kings of Leon

37. Roll Away Your Stone - Mumford & Sons

38. Last Time - Paper Route

39. One Day - Matisyahu

40. Good Life - OneRepublic

42. Animal - Neon Trees

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween and Racing Underway!

Greetings from the racecourse! It's been difficult to post the last couple of days because of our schedule and internet availability, so please excuse the hiatus.

Last night was Halloween here, and we had some good spirit in the dining hall for dinner. Anna Goodale (8+) is from Maine, and luckily our team tracksuit provided a good costume.

Sarah Trowbridge (4x) scared everyone with some extremely realistic vampire teeth.
Unfortunately, the waitstaff was unfazed, but we all enjoyed the shenanigans. Don Langford, head of USRowing, brought us some Halloween temporary tattoos, which the majority of the team is sporting today!

With only two of our crews able to race yesterday--Mike Nucci and Evan Tsourtsoulas in the LM2- finished third and will race in the repechage tomorrow, and Abby Broughton and Ursula Grobler winning their heat of the LW2x to advance to Wednesday's semifinal--racing today includes several more events, with things kicking off with our women's quad. Some rough water early in the race course put them down a bit, but they were able to come back into a solid third place finish, good prep for their repechage on Thursday.

We're off for the rest of the day, so there's a good deal more to come from this blog--check back to see our playlist and two video interviews, if the internet's working at the hotel!

Good luck to all my USA teammates racing today!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

More training, more teams arriving!

We've been logging some miles and getting in some good race prep pieces at Karapiro over the last couple of days. One of my favorite things we do (as most other large squads do) is race pieces against one another on the race course. We've gotten to do a few against our W4- and W4x, and it's as close as we get to racing until next Tuesday--so we make the most of it. It's so much fun to race, and it makes us all faster--and it's just an awesome feeling, going down the course with all cylinders firing! I can't wait to start racing.

As of yesterday, nearly every federation has taken up residence at the course. The Dutch, Polish, and Swiss teams, who had been training near Taupo (a couple of hours south of the lake), have come up, and the New Zealand squad is training here now, too. The Dutch are also staying at our hotel, making it almost an entirely-rower residence: the US, Netherlands, France, Lithuania, and Serbia are all here!

I posted some photos from our warm-up run, which is a pretty, hilly jog through the New Zealand countryside. More videos to come today--since racing's just around the corner (the New Zealand daily paper actually had a 6-page insert about the World Rowing Championships!), it's time for some video interviews with US team members!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Afternoon off...

This morning, we did a bit of pulling, which was really nice for getting to stretch our legs for the first time since arriving in New Zealand. I think that that's when it really starts to register for me. You'd think that "I'm in New Zealand for the World Rowing Championships" would hit home after the 30+ hours of traveling were over and we officially arrived...or maybe during our first trip down the racecourse. I can't speak for others, but when we start doing things that feel like racing, that's when that awesome feeling hits: "I'm here in NZ, racing to represent the USA, and I'm ready to GO!" Now, there's just a slight, week-long delay before we actually get to head up to the start and toe the line with the other kids in our heat...

We had the afternoon off, but this seemed to coincide with jetlag hitting a bit. I was hoping to make it to a sheep farm (I hear that New Zealand has a few of those?) with some of my teammates, but I just did some work and napped instead, like most of the team. I've put in a request to everyone here to send me their top training tunes for this trip, so one of the next few posts will be the official USA 2010 WRC playlist! Get excited...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Doin' Time at the Course

Your US W8+! Reppin' our colleges: Syracuse, Notre Dame, Yale, Yale, Radcliffe, Stanford, Ithaca, Northeastern, Washington!

We’re hanging out at the course between practices and working on adjusting to the training schedule and the time zone change! Essentially all federations have a 30-45 minute drive to the course from their hotels; most, like our team, are trying to minimize bus time by fitting both practices into one trip. This morning, we rowed a bit harder than we have since getting here, and if felt really good to open it up for the first time in a few days.

We’re eating lunch at the course every day, and the food is really delicious. There are lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. New Zealand cuisine seems to be very "farm fresh"—lots of produce, especially beets and tomatoes, beef, and delicious whole-grain bread. I shot a quick video of the athlete dining tent—nearly every federation is eating in there, and it’s fun to see everyone from the different teams off the water and socializing a bit.

Unfortunately, it’s been very difficult to get any internet at the course. For some reason, only a few of the computers can connect through, so most of us are taking advantage of the comfy bean-bag chairs and foam mats in the athlete lounge and relaxing between lunch and our next practice.

We did, however, get word of the Head of the Charles results. Nice racing in the Champ 8+, Harvard! And a shout-out to our teammates from the USRowing Training Center in Princeton who went 1-2-3 in the women’s Champ 2x yesterday.

There are a bunch of photos from our row upriver today, as well as adventures around the course and into town. This grocery store display is a make-your-own yogurt machine—all the packets are powdered yogurt cultures!

Really cool, although I’m not sure it would clear customs back to the USA. Elliot Hovey (M4x) shows our excitement of finding NZ kiwis for NZ $1.99 per KILO!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Successful First Day in NZ

After our epic journey, we landed safely and successfully in the Auckland International Airport. To be honest, the time zone change has been a little easier than I thought it might be, although I might be eating my words later. 80ish athletes, coaches, and team managers managed to make it through in one piece, with no fines (Immigration is notoriously strict here, with $400 fines levied if you don't declare monitored goods such as fruit or nuts) and no lost baggage. The WRC management team has been awesome, shepherding us around the security queues in the airport and really making sure that everything is taken care of.

After the 90-minute bus ride from the airport to Hamilton, the city our hotel is in, we dropped off our bags and grabbed some lunch before heading out to the course. It's about a 40-minute bus ride from our hotel to the course--mostly residential sections and farmland. I have yet to see any sheep, but there are plenty of cows around!

The course is beautiful--very picturesque and huge. Nearly all of the international courses I've raced on have been man-made, and the lake is huge. There are also huge grandstands, a huge staging area, and a huge warm-up area on the course--New Zealand is definitely doing the World Rowing Championships in a big way!

More to come tomorrow--I'll hopefully be able to get some video interviews with teammates and get the slideshow to cooperate. Thankfully, the internet here is working well, so I'll be able to update this more regularly than my Lucerne blog! For now, though, it's bedtime, so I'm signing off!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

...And We're Off!

We set out today from our boathouse in Princeton, NJ. Official trip starting time: 7:02am. I’m writing this on the plane from Newark, NJ to Colorado. We’re connecting through Denver to LAX, and then we have a direct flight from LAX to Auckland, NZ. The travelers on this first leg are just the part of the women’s team that trains in Princeton, plus coaches, team managers, and our team physio. We’re meeting up with the boats from the men’s team that have been training at the ARCO Olympic Training Center in San Diego, Calif., and all flying together to NZ.

Traveling with the team is always an adventure. Twenty tall women walking through the airport with matching Boathouse polos and track jackets—so far we’ve been asked if we are the USA basketball team, volleyball team, and swimming team. Sometimes people know that we’re rowers, though, when they see our coxswain, Mary Whipple, walking in the group, too! No one ever asks ME if I’m the coxswain…oh well.

Travel in general, but especially air travel, is really dehydrating. Our goal is one liter of fluid per hour of travel. Makes me glad to have an aisle seat! We also do a lot of stretching, walking around, and foam roller-ing to stay loose and keep our bodies limber. Sometimes flight attendants get a bit confused when they find one or two of us doing yoga in the back of the plane…

So far, the trip has been free of delays and other drama. During our nine-hour layover in LAX, I’m planning to go home for a visit, a quick run and dinner with friends. I’m from Newport Beach, Calif., which is about 45 minutes south of the airport. This is the first time I’ve been home since March, when we were at training camp in San Diego, and I’m very happy to see my family and friends.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Packing: How to do NZ in under 50 pounds!

Packing started last week when I moved out of my apartment and back with a host family (the wonderful Fonsecas of Skillman, NJ!), but the real stuff started yesterday. We’re allowed to bring one 50-pound bag to New Zealand (we can bring more, but like everyone else, we have to pay bag fees), creating the eternal conundrum: how to pack for three weeks of two-three practices a day, weather ranging from 65 and sunny to 45 and raining, and also bring all the “extras” like sports drinks and a yoga mat?

The first time I went to Worlds, I was pretty excited to have remembered to bring socks. But by now, I have the routine down a little better. Packing enough for three days of practices plus two days of racing, and buying detergent and clothesline in the WRC host country, has served me pretty well. Still, it’s tricky when you want to bring your lucky sports bra and an extra pair of tights and a couple of books…it can add up!

Good luck to all the athletes packing up and traveling this week—may your suitcases be underweight and the airport security people generous about the definition of “carry-on size”!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Check out Take That's new rowing music video!

Featuring some good rowing and some...interesting rowing, the British band Take That's new music video for "The Flood" was filmed at and near the 2012 Olympic rowing venue, Dorney Lake. The singers (and body doubles) aren't racing boats you'd see at Worlds or the Olympics, though--the five-person sculling boats, or "quints", are perfect for their five-person band, but most rowers have never even seen that type of shell in person.

First all the rowing scenes in "The Social Network", and now music videos? Has rowing hit the mainstream?

Check out Robbie Williams and Take That's new single "The Flood" here.

Welcome to Esther Lofgren’s 2010 World Rowing Championship blog!

Welcome to my New Zealand World Rowing Championships blog! I’m Esther Lofgren, five-time US National Team member, and a member of the women’s eight. I’m posting this blog with the help of USRowing, the national governing body of rowing here in the US of A. You can see their coverage of regattas, videos, live webcasts, athlete bios, and much more at

I’ll be writing about our training leading up to the WRCs, what New Zealand’s like (most of us have never been!), and all the excitement of racing, both on the water and behind the scenes. I blogged for USRowing at the Lucerne World Cup in July (you can see that blog here:, and this time around, I hope to include much more media—short video interviews with teammates in every boat, photos, and (back by popular request) iTunes-linked music playlists!

Thanks for checking out my blog! If you want to see more blogs like this from rowers on the team, please show your support by logging in to follow this blog. Comments and feedback are absolutely appreciated!