Karz qualifies for U23 rowing worlds
After capturing a silver medal in last year’s lightweight quadruple sculls, Park City High School graduate Devery Karz will row for gold at the 2010 World Rowing Under 23 Championship in Brest, Belarus, July 22-26.
In quadruple sculling, there are four rowers, each with two oars. To remain in the lightweight class, each competitor must weigh less than 130 pounds, and the team’s weight cannot exceed an average of 125 pounds.
Karz occupies the port/starboard position on the Belarus-bound U.S. team, meaning she will be the first rower to cross the finish line. The boat will feature two new girls this year, as Karz rejoins technical strategist Summers Nelson from the University of Virginia. Newcomers Kim Hopewell from Princeton University and Liz Robinson from the University of Florida were added at a national team selection camp, at which every U.S. team member raced individually for team spots at U.S. Trials.
"We work really well together as a boat," Karz said of her team, which has three more weeks to hone its skills. "We’ll do well regardless of placement."
The team showed its promise in taking first at U.S. Trials in West Windsor, N.J., last week, crossing five seconds – or about a boat length – ahead of a U.S. Rowing Development Camp/University of Wisconsin team. Now Karz and Co. are eyeing the world’s top honor after ceding the 2009 gold to Germany in Prague.
Karz competed as a cross-country and track athlete at Park City High School, and she credits her outstanding endurance to training with the Young Riders mountain bike program. The cross-country team won a state championship in each of the four years that Karz attended PCHS. Two Miners running teammates went on to have success in other pursuits, with Rosie Brennan competing for Dartmouth College in cross-country skiing nationals and Megan McJames skiing for the U.S. Alpine Team at the 2010 Olympics.
Her story is less traditional, however. She entered Oregon State University’s novice rowing program as a freshman and worked her way up to the varsity level, helping her crew earn a spot in the NCAA Championships and netting a full athletic scholarship.
"It’s a lot like nordic skiing, except there’s no downhills in rowing," said Karz, who would like someday to compete at the Olympics but noted that rowers typically do not peak until about age 28. "Each year you get a little bit stronger, a little bit better."
Karz said she bulked up her arms for rowing, which she compares to repeatedly doing power cleans in the weight room. On top of her time in the gym and on the water, she is a full-time student studying communications with minors in Spanish and Chinese. She was named Academic All Pac-10 as a junior, and is entering her senior year as a Beaver.
"It’s a busy, tired lifestyle," Karz said. "I don’t think most people would take it on."
It’s not cheap, either. Athletes have to pay for their own airfare, accommodations, food, boats – and they have to pay U.S. Rowing for their coach’s airfare and compensation. Karz and her teammates have spent about $2,000 each to get to the world championships, and Karz will have to spend even more as she strives to make senior worlds next year at age 23. Fundraising eases the burden, but not much.
"U.S. Rowing basically provides nothing," she said. "It’s so hard."
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