Alaska's Borgman strikes rowing gold

Posted: Monday, July 30, 2001

PENNSAUKEN, N.J. -- The best rower from Homer, Alaska, continued to catch up with the rest of the country Saturday as Stacey Borgman won a pair of gold medals at the U.S. Rowing national championships on Cooper River.

Borgman, 26, finished first in the elite women's single scull competition in the morning, turning in a time of 7 minutes, 55.50 seconds, then completed her day by rowing home first with Abigail Cromwell, Marney Jaastad and Jen Edwards in the elite lightweight quad scull (6:48.07). That quad lineup, with Borgman stroking from the four seat, will represent the United States at the world championships in Switzerland next month.

A law student at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore., Borgman goes for the hat trick Sunday when she will team with Cromwell in the final of the lightweight double, a preview of her Olympic aspirations for 2004.

The national championships, a five-day regatta with 111 events and nearly 1,800 competitors, conclude Sunday with more than 30 races beginning at 8 a.m. and stretching into early afternoon on the river near Philadelphia.

Not surprisingly, Borgman didn't begin rowing in Alaska, where she grew up on the tip of the Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage. Her competitive career began with Barnard College at Columbia University and has continued since her move to Portland, where she is affiliated with both Portland Rowing Unlimited and Pocock Rowing of Seattle.

She does have one ready reminder of home, however, and that is the single scull she rowed to the gold medal Saturday. Friends from her hometown, including a fisherman who hired Borgman to work at his packing plant during her high school summers, pitched in to buy her a scull several years ago. That was at least a small payoff for working 15-hour days putting halibut and salmon into plastic bags.

"After a while, you don't smell it at all," Borgman said.

Borgman has been concentrating on the quad recently as her team qualified for the world regatta and prepared for Saturday's national championship, but she was very happy to be back in the single as well.

"I love rowing the single," she said. "I don't have that much opportunity to race it. I was a little rough off the start (Saturday) because I'm so used to the quad, which is a much faster boat. The single is much more of an endurance piece."

Borgman knows something about enduring. She won her first U.S. championship, in the single, just two days after getting cut from the national lightweight selection camp in 1999. Last year, she didn't fare well at the Olympic trials in the double, but did make the world championship team in the lightweight pair along with Katherine Humblet. They won a silver medal.

Now, Borgman appears to be hitting her stride in both ability and confidence, solidifying her plans to stay in the sport at least through the 2004 Olympics. The first stop will be the world championships next month and another taste of international competition.

"It was a great experience last year," Borgman said. "It's fun to get to compete at a level like that."

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