The American lightweight double sculls tandem of Steve Tucker and Greg Ruckman have their own way of doing things, and it got them in more trouble
than they could get out of Thursday.
The pair came out of their methodically paced start in the back of the pack as they often have, but gave up too much distance to their rivals in the
six-boat semifinal field to stage a comeback. The pair finished fourth behind Poland, Greece and Denmark, one spot and 3.6 seconds out of contention
for Sunday's final.
"We didn't quite have the base speed through the middle that we've seen,'' Tucker said, noting that his boat was about a second per 500 meters slower
than usual. "I'm not exactly sure why we didn't have that extra speed.''
Meanwhile, the U.S. quadruple scull, which got to the semifinals with an impressive win in its repechage -- or second-chance race -- saw its medal
hopes evaporate despite a solid start. They were third after the first quarter of the 2,000-meter race, but faded to fifth at 1,000 meters and
"All of us really felt we did everything we could during the race,'' said quad oarsman Kent Smack of Boston.
But the rowers couldn't reel back in Belarus and Estonia, boats they had beaten in the past.
The U.S. lightweight double sculls boat of Lisa Schlenker and Stacey Borgman also was eliminated from the finals, finishing fourth, .73 of a second
behind Germany, despite a blitz to the finish line.
The lightweight four, which includes coach Mike Teti's younger brother, Paul, rowed a competitive race but fell to last at the finish, 4 seconds
behind Canada, the third and final boat to advance from that race behind Italy and Austria.
In rowing, nearly every crew breaks off the starting line in an all-out sprint for about 25 strokes before settling into a pace -- a somewhat
counterintuitive approach to an endurance sport.
The rationale is that with rowers facing the stern, it's easier to control the race and develop a strategy when the rest of the field is in view.
Tucker, an MIT graduate in physics, and Ruckman, of Harvard, have sought to break the mold with a steadier pace. They won a World Cup last year and
were considered medal contenders in Athens.
"I thought the start was fine ... we weren't out of it,'' Tucker said. "We needed to be creeping back on the field through the middle thousand
(meters) of the race. We were working awfully hard to make up a little time through the middle, but then when it came to the end we didn't have enough
to push ahead of the Danes.''