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Vol. LXIII, No. 33
 
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
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(Photo Courtesy of USRowing)

GOING FOR IT: Steven Coppola shows his game face as he poses before heading to Poland to compete for the U.S. men’s four at the 2009 World Rowing Championships regatta. The world competition will take place at Lake Malta, Poznan, Poland from August 23-30. Last summer, the former Princeton University crew star helped the U.S. men’s eight earn a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympic Games.

PU Star Coppola Moving to Men’s 4 in Worlds Aiming to Bring Home Another Medal for U.S.

Bill Alden

When it comes to rowing in a men’s eight, Steve Coppola has proven that he can compete with the best in the world.

Last summer, the former Princeton University crew star helped the U.S. men’s eight earn a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympic Games.

But now Coppola is looking to show that he can make an impact in a smaller boat as he rows in the men’s four next week at the 2009 World Rowing Championships at Lake Malta, Poznan, Poland from August 23-30.

The lanky 6’8, 215-pound Coppola is relishing the big challenge he and his boat mates face as they look to medal in Poland.

“It is a little bit of a different boat, you are a quarter of the boat rather than an eighth so the onus is a little more on you to race your best,” said Coppola, who will be joined in the boat by Brett Newlin, Giuseppe Lanzone, and Cameron Winklevoss.

“It is a nice break; it is a little change of pace. There are a lot of countries that really prioritize the four. It will be nice to see how we can stand up. Americans have a reputation of being technicians in the eight. This quad has set out to prove that we can also move some smaller boats.”

The quartet proved it could move pretty well earlier this season when it took third at a World Cup regatta held in Lucerne, Switzerland after being thrown together at the last minute.

“It was kind of by accident that we stumbled upon it; Jake Cornelius got food poisoning and got sick at Lucerne and we put Giuseppe in,” recalled Coppola, 25, a 2006 Princeton alum who helped the Tiger men’s heavyweight first varsity to the Eastern Sprints title and second in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta in his senior season.

“It was one of those combinations that kind of clicked. We went fast. Before Lucerne we had gone fast with Jake but in Lucerne we went faster with Giuseppe. We came in third; we were able to sprint through Germany at the line.”

The boat is learning from its experience in Lucerne as it prepares for the world championship regatta.

“Right now we have just been trying to tune that up a little bit and work on some of the finer points and the weaknesses that we saw in Lucerne,” said Coppola.

“I think we have made some progress technically; I think we are getting there. I think we are on the right track.”

Coppola is hoping the boat can get on a medal track at the world competition.

“We need to have a pretty strong race from start to finish,” added Coppola.

“Over at Lucerne, we saw that the ends of our race were pretty good but we need to work a bit on the middle 1,000. It is a week where we have to have our best race every day.”

With each member of the boat having rowed in Beijing, Coppola thinks that being battle-tested at the highest level could make a difference in Poland.

“There is a lot of experience on the crew so I am confident,” said Coppola. “Experience and race maturity will help us.”

As he looks forward, Coppola is hoping to have to gain a lot more international experience over the next few years with an eye to competing in the 2010 world championship regatta in New Zealand and the 2012 London Olympic Games.

“I definitely wasn’t ready to stop after Beijing,” said the genial Coppola with his ready grin.

“At the moment this is what I love to do. My parents weren’t in Beijing so when I called them after the races, they said ‘good job; now we’d really like to go to New Zealand so can you at least train through 2010.’ They were looking for an excuse to go to New Zealand. As long as I am doing that, I should stay for London for myself. There are some good guys coming up so it’s going to be very hard.”

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