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Women's Champ Singles to Kallfelz

By Lauren Thomas
Posted on October 22, 2022
Women's Champ Singles to Kallfelz

(Photo by Ben Crawley)

Comes from Back of the Field to Edge the Olympic Gold Medalist

The early starters had long ago crossed the finish line, and the results watchers on shore were staring at their phones and thinking Emma Twigg of New Zealand had added a Head of the Charles title to her Olympic gold medal.

But back at bow 20, some three minutes behind the early starters, Emily Kallfelz was running the Olympic champion down. She made up 15 seconds between the Weld and Cambridge Boat Club check points, taking the lead as she headed into the Eliot Bridge, winning by four seconds in 19:04.

After a year off with an injury, Kallfelz’s high bow number had her concerned about the traffic.

“I was starting 20th, so I was like, ‘oh, boy, this could be a mess,’ but I pretty much decided that I was just going to steer as if no one was around, and then hopefully people would get out of the way if I had to pass anyone,” Kallfelz said. “Everyone seemed very on top of it, so it didn’t turn into a mess at all. I pretty much just tried to not be on the outside of any turns, take the tightest line I could, and keep the rate up. I wanted to go out relatively hard so that I’m not passing people through like weeks and [on the outside]. Definitely the last quarter or a third of the race was a bit of a slog.”

In addition to fighting off Olympic champion Emma Twigg, Kallfelz also battled with a few buoys and one goose.

“[Hitting a goose] is a little jarring,” Kallfelz said. “It takes you a minute to get back into it, but it was fine. There are geese everywhere, so it’s kind of inevitable, but a little annoying in the middle of a piece.

“I was definitely close to a few boats here and there but the biggest [issue was] hitting a goose, and I hit a few buoys,” Kallfelz said. “Those are probably more my fault but more problematic. I passed a few people on the buoy line around the big CBC turn. It was close, but I was on the buoy line, so I didn’t have to take the outside edge. So yeah, it wasn’t as crazy as it could have been.”

A member of Team USA, Kallfelz raced against five of her teammates on the 2022 Senior National Team. Grace Joyce, Kristina Wagner, Maggie Fellows, Hannah Paynter, and Emily Delleman all joined Kallfelz for the Saturday race.

“Everyone came back from Worlds and did different things,” Kallfelz said. “I took a week off and other people have been training or taking three weeks off, so it’s a bit of a fun event. You never know how it’s gonna go, but it’s great, and it’s nice to see everyone back here.”

After competing in the World Championships September 18-25, Kallfelz found a temporary home in Boston at the Newell boathouse. She has been training on the Charles with a group of four rowers, including Molly Reckford, the Women’s Lightweight Singles winner.

“Rowing with the teammates I was rowing with, none of them were in [my race], so we had a lightweight and then two heavyweight men in our little group, so it’s kind of fun to mix it up, I guess,” Kallfelz said. “Training with boats of different speeds, I think it can push you just as hard, as long as you use that as a tool. We’ve kind of been on our own schedule, and we’ve all just had a training plan we’re all doing, and we’re just [focusing on] getting out there every morning.”

A seasoned rower, Kallfelz said she wasn’t phased by going up against a reigning Olympic champion.

“I did not think about it beforehand. They were starting so far ahead of me, I was just like, ‘I just got to focus on my race and the steering situation and people around me,’” Kallfelz said. “I wish I saw her, I didn’t see her the entire time. I feel pretty lucky, that’s pretty cool to be able to race against her. She’s a legend, so yeah — very cool.’

Not seeing the boats around her turns out to be more of a side effect of Kallfelz’s extreme focus than a deliberate strategy.

“I tried to think about just staying on rate and focusing on the numbers, and being as consistent as possible, and not losing ground through turns,” Kallfelz said. “I think that’s where it’s easy to lose speed. I was just trying to focus on my steering, my rate and pulling hard enough. Everyone who is really going fast is not nearby, so I just focus on myself, focus on my race, and see how it goes.”

Having raced in the Head of the Charles all four years of college at Princeton, and again in 2019, she came back this year after an injury that forced her to the sidelines last year.

“It was a process coming back, and it’s a process of staying healthy,” Kallfelz said. “Once you get through a practice, a lot of practices, then one race is probably not going to crush you, so I generally don’t worry about a single race. I have bigger things to worry about.”

Looking ahead, the primary plan for Kallfelz is to continue practicing and recovering from her injury.

“I personally just need to get a solid training block in, given I took so much time off. I just have to get consistent training, so that’s gonna be probably my priority unless I’m told to do something else. Which, who knows, maybe that will happen too.”



By Lauren Thomas
Posted on October 22, 2022