Quaker Valley's Christensen shines at world rowing championships
Quaker Valley senior Annika Christensen got a taste of the international stage as part of a youth regatta Sept. 23-24 in the World Rowing Championships in Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla.
Christensen, 17, of Bell Acres coxed an eight that placed second in the first Youth Regional Challenge, which kicked off the week.
The event featured 312 of the top U-19 rowers in the country, who raced in eights and quadruple sculls.
Athletes represented the six USRowing regions in four boat classes, with Christensen picked from the Mid-Atlantic.
More than 900 people applied.
“I got to use the same starting technology as the top athletes in the sport,” Christensen said, adding she was on the water just moments after them. “It really feels like all eyes are on you.”
Christensen, a member of the Three Rivers Junior Rowing team on Washington's Landing, found how intense that focus was after strings she uses to operate the boat broke.
“I had to steer using the yoke, which was behind my back,” she said. “It looked weird, but it was crazy how my coaches knew about it as I got off the dock.
“I was updating some college coaches on the race, and one of them replied to my email, saying he'd already heard about it. It made me more aware of my actions in the boat and how crucial perfection is at all times.”
Youth Regional Challenge coach Valeria Gospodinov said a coxswain as talented as Christensen is rare.
“I heard very good things about her,” Gospodinov said. “She did an amazing job.”
The boat finished the 2,000-meter course in 6 minutes, 56.72 seconds, around eight seconds behind the Southeast (6:48.30).
Three Rivers Junior Rowing coach Matt Grau said few coxswains would have thought to do what Christensen did after the steering cables broke.
“Annika has been on a roll recently,” he said.
At the same venue in June, Christensen placed second in a four competing for Three Rivers Junior Rowing in the USRowing Youth National Championships.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.