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Colorado Crew – radio package

Crew Heads to Siras

After traveling 24 hours on a Greyhound bus, the Colorado Crew team arrived in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to compete in the annual rowing regatta, SIRAs. The Southern Invitational Rowing Association regatta attracts teams throughout the southern and mid western parts of the country including both NCAA crews and club teams.

Upon arrival, the team “rigged” or assembled the boats from the trailer and prepared them to race. Along the river, trailers from schools all around were set up. “The size of the field was really cool,” said Amy Chen, a freshman at CU and a member of the novice crew.

After rowing over the course surrounded by tree covered hills, the team settled in and prepared for the days of racing that were up ahead. Teams tend to arrive a day ahead of a race, in order to become familiar with the course they will be racing on.

Colorado crew carried four different crews this year that include a Women’s Varsity four, a Women’s Varsity eight, a Men’s Varsity eight, and a Men’s Novice eight. And eight has eight rowers and a four has four rowers. Varsity athletes have competed in at least one spring season of competition and novice athletes are completely new to rowing and have joined the team sometime during the year. Varsity rowers typically have better technique on the water giving them an advantage over the less experienced rowers. Due to SIRAs rules and the lack of varsity members on the women’s team, the Women’s Varsity eight was actually comprised of novice rowers, which presented a challenge to the ladies new to rowing. The Men’s Varsity eight was also comprised of half varsity and half novice rowers resulting in a boat with some experienced and some inexperienced athletes.

On the first day of competition, all boats raced to qualify for semifinals and finals the next day. All but the Women’s novice crew were able to produce sufficient enough times to advance to the second day of racing. But given they were a novice crew participating in a varsity event, they were happy with the experience. “It was nice to see NCAA teams like Kansas State race because they were all relaxed and looked really good,” said Chen. “It was nice to have the opportunity to race against teams like that.” Kansas State, an official NCAA varsity team, ended up winning the Varsity eight event which took place Saturday.

Compared to last year, the crews have been sufficiently faster pulling out quicker times. In the Women’s Varsity eight event, the novice crew was almost 13 seconds faster than last year and the Men’s Novice eight were 14 seconds faster, showing great potential for these crews as the spring season begins.

The results in the semifinals determine the heats of the finals. The top six boats will compete in the A finals, the next six in the B finals, and the last six in the C finals. The Men’s Novice eight raced in the B finals where they were able to pull out a second place finish and the Men’s Varsity eight was able to win the C finals, a huge accomplishment given that half the boat was novice rowers.

Kelsey Coxon, a junior at CU, joined the team last spring and participates as a varsity rower this year. “Being a varsity rower, boat set is a lot better,” she said. “It’s a lot different than being a novice rower because you don’t have as much potential to do well.” The varsity races tend to foster more competition and better crews making it a challenge to produce the same results as a novice rower.

The Women’s Varsity four, however, made great strides in their C final race.They led for the first half of the race by a half of a boat length. As they approached the 1500m mark of the 2k race, second place Purdue started gaining on the four and eventually took the lead. Colorado proved to be stronger in the sprint, as they took back the lead at the last couple meters beating Purdue by 8/10s of a second.

Overall, SIRAs was a success for Colorado Crew. It’s not only a learning experience but the results were impressive for a club team training in Colorado in a sport that is generally done in more ideal climates and landscapes. “It brings attention to the program. Even though we are a club team, we can still pull hard and work hard,” said Chen, “other teams don’t know much about us and the fact that we showed up and did well says something.”

Minor league hockey gains popularity in Colorado

The Colorado Avalanche have being representing Colorado hockey since the nineties and after winning back-to-back Stanley Cups excited hockey fans. A new wave of hockey has taken Colorado by storm with minor league teams gaining popularity and the Colorado Eagles leading the pack.

Founded in 2003, the Colorado Eagles played in the Central Hockey League (CHL) where they won a total of two Ray Miron President’s Cups, one coming in only their second season. The Ray Miron President Cup is equivalent to a Stanley Cup in the NHL. They dominated the league until 2011 where they transferred into the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) for better competition and better hockey. Today, they are a rising team in the league and are hoping to take a run for the cup this spring. They are affiliated with NHL’s Winnipeg Jets.

Although minor league hockey play is considered not as good as the major league play, it does not take anything away from the game. Players have the same hustle and focus seen in the NHL. Some are simply too small for the NHL, and some do not have the skill. Many players have other jobs in addition to being a part of the team because the salaries they receive fail in comparison to those of the major league. They play for the love of the game and the possibility to be called up to the NHL.

The Eagles play in the Budweiser Events Center located at the edge of Loveland, Colorado. Their fan base reaches out to surrounding areas including Fort Collins, Greeley, Johnstown, and Longmont. The arena is a bit on the smaller side sitting around 5,200 people creating an intimate and electric atmosphere. The team has had sold out crowds almost every game and loyal season ticket holders who have created what is considered one of the loudest arenas in the ECHL. Angela McGownd, a high schooler from Loveland and dedicated fan, has been attending Eagles games with her family for the past ten years. “The atmosphere is great,” she said. “It’s very loud and crowded and there is a lot of energy. There is not a bad seat in the place.”

Players are involved in the community and really make an effort to give back to their fans. “I see a lot of the players at my workout club,” McGownd said. “They are always willing to talk to people about the game and seem to be generally friendly.” The Eagles also have autograph signings and hold skating events around Loveland and the surrounding areas building relationships with their fans.

With growing popularity, the Eagles have partnered with 7NEWS in Denver with game scores during the broadcast and online broadening the coverage of the team. “I see a lot of Eagle gear around town,” McGownd said.  “A lot of my friends and people at my school are fans.” Their success on and off the ice has enabled them to become a prominent sports team in Colorado.

Colorado Crew shows rowing in the Front Range is possible

Crew is not a conventional sport; especially in the middle of the country with mountains that bring snow and freezing temperatures. That doesn’t stop the University of Colorado from having a rowing team that competes in regattas across the country. These Front Range rowers recently have had major success, when in 2013 their women’s novice boat took third place at Nationals in Georgia.

Many students come to college looking for something new to try, and since crew is not offered at many high schools, there is a lot of initial interest in the club program. Jacqui Hemphill, a freshman at the CU, gave the sport a try. “I really liked the people I met and the sense of family that they had, so I stayed,” she said. “I also felt like it was a sport I could finally be good at.”

The crew team starts out with about seventy or eighty members at the beginning of the year. A majority of the team are new rowers or ‘novice’ rowers who have never had any rowing experience. The rest are existing rowers from the previous seasons. From September through November, the team is out on Boulder Reservoir at 5:30 am before the sun is up, and works out until 7:30 am in time for classes that day. As winter hits the Rockies and the temperature drops the reservoir freezes, forcing the rowers to take their workouts inside for winter training. With a combination of cross-fit and rowing on an erg machine, the team gears up for racing season improving on their technique and overall fitness. Though this may be seen as a disadvantage since schools in warmer climates like California are able to row on the water year round, the hard work pays off.

Towards the end of the year, the number of members significantly drops. Waking up early, vigorous work outs inside, the time consumption, and the cost can be both a physical and mental toll and are usually the reasons for someone to quit. The athletes who stay, however, are able to have an experience that changes them and enables them to grow as a person. Hemphill explains, “It gives me an outlet for stress.  It also keeps me very involved, a well-rounded college student if you will.  It also becomes a great habit to wake up and work out; it opens up the rest of your day and makes sure you are awake.”

Spending endless hours working out, the team really bonds into a family. “My favorite part is definitely the people that I have been able to meet and the connections that you form,” said Hemphill. “The friendships are so much stronger because the team goes through so much together between the extremely difficult workouts and the traveling.”

The team will spend Spring Break training at a university with warmer weather, where they will lay out a basis for the spring season. In April and May, they will head across the country competing against other universities and colleges, many with varsity programs.

The Beatles first American appearance turns 50

It’s been 50 years since four boys from Liverpool flew across the Atlantic and took the stage in Studio 50 in Manhattan. The mop-topped group known as the Beatles had been popular in England but just started to gain recognition in America.

Every Sunday, all across the United States, people would flock to their living rooms and gather around their televisions to watch The Ed Sullivan Show hosted by the legendary Ed Sullivan. Sullivan had a keen eye for talent and brought in new acts every week to showcase to America. In 1964, the Beatles were lucky enough to catch Sullivan’s eye and found a spot in his show’s line-up. The buzz around the group was like nothing that ever came before. More than 74 million people watched the Beatles perform from their TV screens. Long time Beatles fan and fan club member Kathy Gnatek remembers the day. “I watched the Beatles in my living room with my mom, brother, and two cousins,” she said. “My mom was very upset because she felt they were a disgrace because their hair was so long.” 50,000 people tried to land tickets to the taping of the show. Those who made it in the studio were mostly young, teenage girls whose hearts were stolen by the foreign heart throbs. Overtaken by the Beatles presence, many tried to sneak into the dressing rooms and backstage which led to member John Lennon to call for tight security leading up to the show. Even the daughters of President Nixon and Walter Cronkite were overtaken by the British pop stars and couldn’t wait to see them in person.

The Beatles may have looked like young boys but were there for business to showcase their talents and to be taken seriously. The dress rehearsals that Sunday afternoon were filled with poor sound quality management. Microphones were not working properly, and the vocals were drowned out by the band. This led to George Harrison talking with the producer to make sure their first performance across the pond was perfect.

That night, they played four songs: “All My Loving,” “She Loves You,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Each member was showcased and introduced to America.  Teenage girls became infatuated with the British boys. Gnatek said, “I loved Paul because he was so cute, and I liked how he smiled and shook his head while he sang.” This kind of “Beatle-mania” took over the country. Gnatek, like many other teens, became obsessed with Paul McCartney. “I wrote his name 100 times to join a fan club and pledged I wanted to marry him,” she said. “I wore a Beatle pin anytime I was out in public to prove my loyalty.”

The Beatles were not only popular during their career but are known around the world even today. Their songs are still played on the radio religiously and many of the newer generations have been exposed to their music. They jumpstarted the “British Invasion” and have influenced and inspired artists throughout history.


Lolo Jones uses speed to make Olympic bobsled team

Competing in the Olympics is a big deal. Competing in both the Summer and Winter Olympics is even a bigger deal. Former track star Lolo Jones will try to achieve Olympic glory for the third time in her career, only this time, it will be it will be a little colder.

Jones is known for running hurdles for the United States and has been a prominent figure of the American track team. Predicted to win the gold in 2008, Jones clipped her foot on the final hurdle giving up the lead and resulting in a seventh place finish. The disappointment only fueled her motivation and the hype leading up to the London games in 2012, where she failed to perform and ended up just off of the podium at fourth place.

But Jones just wants to represent her country. Kelsey Millar, a manager for the Arizona State women’s basketball team, has worked with athletes all of her life and has always followed the Olympics. She attended the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics where she witnessed the first ever women’s bobsledding race in the games with the American women taking gold. The atmosphere was indescribable. “There are people from all over the world there.” She said. “They come together to watch some of the greatest athletes in the world; it’s an unforgettable experience.”

Twelve years after the event debut and two years after the heartbreak, Jones finds herself a part of the American bobsled team where she will compete as a push athlete. The push athlete does what it sounds like. He or she pushes the bobsled from a stop at the beginning of the race and then must jump inside the bobsled before the first curve. There has been controversy over whether or not Jones deserved to be on the team; many other athletes have devoted their lives to bobsledding that were looked over. And the attention she is getting upsets other gold medalist bobsled athletes, which have worked hard to get where they’re at. But for some it doesn’t matter. Millar said, “She was picked based off of her athletic abilities and past results. Though she may not be the popular vote, she works hard, and by looking at the numbers, she earned her position.”

Had Jones medaled in either Beijing or London games she would have not tried to make the bobsled team for the United States. But, with a lifetime of hard work, dedication, and ambitions, she knew she had to try to find a way for another opportunity at the podium. Jones has shown passion for her sport, her team, her country, and her dream. She hopes to be able to redeem herself and prove to the doubters that she has both the physical and mental capability to compete and be successful at such a high level of competition. Otherwise, she will be known for her controversies and failures that have plagued her public image thus far.

The eyes of Americans and people all over the world will be on Jones in Sochi when the games begin February 6, and she will surely have people behind her. “Since she is representing our country, I will be rooting for her.” Millar said.  “Despite the controversy, by her even making the games proves she has great potential.”