Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 21
 
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
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(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

FROST WARNING: Princeton University women’s open crew coxswain Ariel Frost gets ready to pilot the boat in recent competition. Senior co-captain Frost’s guidance helped the boat go undefeated in regular season action and place second in the Eastern Sprints. This weekend, Frost and the second-seeded Tigers will go for the national title as they compete in the NCAA Championship Regatta in Sacramento, Calif.

With Senior Frost Making Noise at Cox, PU Women’s Open Crew Primed for NCAAs

Bill Alden

Going into freshman year in high school in 2001, Ariel Frost was told that she possessed the natural attributes to be a crew coxswain.

“After eighth grade, people were joking that I should be a cox because I was short and loud,” said Frost, a native of Walnut Creek, Calif. in the San Francisco area.

“I was playing soccer and doing track. I went to the Oakland Strokes Rowing Club and I found I really enjoyed being on the water.”

Frost didn’t waste time making noise in her crew career, coxing the Strokes varsity eight to the title at the 2004 USRowing National Invitational. She went on to pilot the junior four and junior eight to victory at the 2004 USRowing National Championships.

In 2005, Frost branched out to the national team and helped the U.S. eight finish fourth in the 2005 World Rowing Junior Championships and second at the 2006 junior worlds.

Coming east to Princeton University in 2006, Frost has added to her impressive resume, coxing the Tiger women’s open eight to third place at the 2009 Eastern Sprints and sixth in the NCAA grand final.

This spring, the 5’3, 105-pound Frost has played a big role as the Tigers went 12-0 in regular season and placed a close second to Yale at the Eastern Sprints.

Frost will be looking to end her Princeton career on a high note this weekend as the second-ranked Tigers compete in the NCAA Championship Regatta in Sacramento, Calif.

In reflecting on her crew career, Frost notes that she had to augment some of her natural attributes in order to be confident on the water.

“Some things came more naturally than others; I had the raw competitiveness from other sports and I loved to race,” said Frost.

“I had to learn how to keep the crew safe, to steer, and the other fundamentals like being able to handle current tide, wind, and other boats. I had to work on the technical side of things; it is a constant learning process.”

Frost points to her success in the U.S youth rowing competition in 2004 as a critical step in her learning process.

“It was really fun; I was still learning from the older girls,” said Frost. “It really hooked me on the sport. It made me want to try to see how good I could be and to try out for the national team.”

Joining the national program led Frost to fine-tune the mental side of her coxing.

“It has helped with the intangibles; things like handling stress, handling a sense of urgency,” said Frost. “In the selection process and when you are on the team, there is pressure and you learn the skills to stay cool and composed.”

Frost had to adjust to a different kind of pressure when she came to Princeton.

“It is an adjustment working with new coaches and new athletes,” said Frost.

“The level of competition in the racing is very different. You race the full 2000 meters, there can be six boats within 50 feet. In high school, you can be ahead at 1000 and that is it. In college, the lead changes so much. I have never really experienced that. It is exciting but it is stressful at first.”

Working her way up to the top varsity boat, Frost saw last spring as a breakthrough season.

“It was great because the boat really learned how to become racers,” said Frost. “We already had the tangibles down, showing up, training, working in the weight room, and doing the ERG stuff. Toward the end of 2009, we learned about racing; staying internal but reacting to external events and sticking to a race plan.”

A key factor in the boat’s success is the bond between Frost and classmate and stroke Sara Hendershot.

“We were on novices together and we moved into varsity together,” said Frost. “We have a tremendous amount of experience together. When you work with someone that long, you develop spoken and unspoken communication. She can read me and I can read her. I know what is going on with her from a facial expression. I know the boat might need an adjustment to rhythm; that the cadence is too high or too low. She is a tremendous rower; I rely on her in the middle of a race.”

This spring, as the two have served as co-captains for the open crew, Frost has relied on Hendershot to help her with leadership responsibilities

“As captains, I couldn’t have done it without her,” said Frost. “We both have different qualities. She can get things done that I can’t, I can do things that she can’t. We complement each other in communicating to the boat. We are both after the same thing.”

The top boat was on the same page this spring, getting better and better as it accomplished an undefeated regular season.

“It was a gradual thing, we have a very competitive spring racing season,” said Frost. “There is tough competition every week. We divide and conquer and take it one race at a time. We were not talking about going undefeated but at the end of season it was really cool that we did this.”

While things weren’t so cool for Princeton at the Eastern Sprint as it got nipped by Yale in the race for gold in the grand final, Frost believes the setback could be a blessing in disguise.

“It was a valuable experience, both crews went out with a lot of passion and want for the Ivy League title,” recalled Frost.

“I think three seats was the most that separated us; we were side by side for 2000 meters. Losing by 0.7 stings but we can use that as fuel. Two crews going relentlessly like that should benefit both of us going into the NCAAs.”

Princeton will need to fine-tune things technically and mentally in order to come big at the NCAAs.

“We need more boat speed,” said Frost. “We need to keep doing what we are doing but find a little more speed. This is our last chance but at the same time you don’t want to think about it. The nervousness is great and the excitement is great, but you don’t want to get too emotional.”

For Frost, her Princeton crew experience has been a great ride no matter what happens in Sacramento.

“I have gained personal maturity that goes over into other things,” said Frost, who has been invited to the U.S. U-23 training camp this summer and plans to train in the Princeton area for the next two years before eventually going to medical school.

“They say crew is a metaphor for life. It is good that it is really hard and I have made it. I love learning; I hope I have given back as much as I have gotten.”

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