Parkite sculls to Worlds
July 17, 2009
Five weeks ago, Park City native Devery Karz climbed into a boat to try her hand at sculling. She has competed in sweep rowing for the past two years, but sculling is a different animal.
The main distinction is that sweep rowers use one oar and scullers use two. "Sweep rowing is a lot different because you primarily use one side of your body and lean to one direction, whereas sculling is much more even and proportionate because you’re reaching out with both arms on both sides of the boat," she explains.
Her first attempt at sculling was no indication of where her talent would take her. "I just went in circles, basically, because one side of my body was much stronger than the other," she says.
But on Saturday, Karz departs for Racice, Czech Republic, where she will compete on the lightweight women’s quadruple sculls team for the United States at the Under 23 Rowing World Championships.
Karz, who ran cross country and track during her years at Park City High School, joined the women’s rowing squad at Oregon State University as a sophomore. "Rowing was awesome because it gave me the ability to try out for something and compete and be a part of a team again," she says.
By the end of her first season on the team, she had moved up to the Varsity Four crew, which represents the third tier of the team’s fastest rowers. As a junior, Karz competed with both the Varsity Four and Novice Eight crews and helped lead the team to victories against rivals Gonzaga, Victoria and Washington State. She also rowed with the Varsity Four crew that finished fifth in the Pac-10 Championships.
Recommended Stories For You
Overall, the Oregon State Beavers finished 15th among collegiate teams. "We did really well. We went to nationals for the first time in 13 years, which was one of our goals. It was really a big deal for us," Karz says.
In order to keep improving and stay in shape throughout the summer, she decided to attend a sculling camp at the GMS Rowing Center in Connecticut. After her initial attempt at sculling, Karz got the hang of it and began to train as a member of a lightweight women’s quadruple sculls team with Victoria Burke and Summers Nelson from University of Virginia and Katherine Robinson from Williams College.
The crew competed at the Under 23 World Championships Trials on Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J., on July 9. The women took first place in the final to earn a spot on the national team. They are among 15 crews from the U.S. that will compete in different events at the World Championships.
Karz stayed in Connecticut after the camp to train with her teammates and Guenter Beutter, the coach who will be accompanying the women to the Czech Republic.
When she set out to take a shot at sculling, Karz never imagined she’d be training to race at the World Championships. "It’s really cool to have the opportunity," she says. The crew will compete against 10 other boats in their event, including contenders from Germany, Austria, Italy, Iran, Belarus and the Netherlands.
Karz says the goal is "obviously to do well," but the women won’t know exactly what they’re up against until they see the other boats in the preliminary heat. "They could be so fast you never see them or they could be so slow you never see them," she says.
As to whether Karz will have time to explore the Czech Republic outside of the competition site, she’s not sure if there will be time. "It’s primarily to race. That’d be awesome if we could see some things, but we’re there to win," she laughs.
The only catch to Karz’s adventure is that the athletes have to fund their own trip. "U.S. Rowing provides unisuits and they arrange the competition, but ultimately we have to pay for everything. It gets to be really expensive after a while," she says. Athletes have to rent their own boats and oars, as well as pay for coaches, travel and accommodations. To help the crews raise money, coach Beutter has set up a website where fans and supporters can donate to the cause. The goal is to raise $27,000 total for members of the lightweight women’s quad, lightweight men’s quad and lightweight men’s single. To make a donation, visit http://www.firstgiving.com/guenterbeutter1 .
After the World Championships are over, Karz plans to stop in Park City before returning to Oregon State for her senior year. She says it might be difficult to settle back into sweep rowing after her summer of sculling. However, there is an upside. "Now I have two big lat muscles instead of one big lat muscle and one very small lat muscle," she says.