Alaska rowers impress in Italy with 7 medals at masters races

The Anchorage Rowing Association put together the best American showing in World Masters Games history last weekend in Torino, Italy, winning seven medals -- two golds and five silvers.

The Kenai-based Alaska Midnight Sun Rowing Association also nabbed a pair of medals, a silver and a bronze.

Anchorage's Janet Curran led the 30-person ARA team with four medals. She teamed with Julie Truskowski, Marietta Hall and Elisa Samuelson to win gold in a women's Class B quad race on the 1,000-meter course on Candia Lake outside Torino, site of the 2006 Olympic Winter Games.

Emma Haddix and Jessica Willis claimed the ARA's second gold medal in a women's pairs race, and silvers were earned in women's doubles, coxed fours, women's eights and women's four without coxswain.

The women's eights is considered one of the sport's glamour events, because an eight is the fastest of the seven boats used in rowing and requires the most teamwork. Coxswain Natasha Graham led rowers Curran, Hall, Samuelson, Haddix, Willis, Erin Bashaw, Shelly Andresen and Anne Blount to claim the ARA's first medal in the event.

Other ARA members to win silvers were Robby Bear, Janeece Higgins, Deb Walker and Sue Sheard, who made up the crew for the women's four without coxswain. Led by Coxswain Natasha Graham, Curran, Haddix, Bashaw and Blount also earned a silver in the women's four with coxswain C category, the first medal earned in the event.

Homer's Karen Hurd was the AMSRA's top rower, teaming with Margo Bias for a silver in a women's doubles event and taking a bronze in mixed pairs with her husband, Jim Hurd.

The four-day competition included 1,200 rowers and eight age divisions that ranged from post-college rowers in their late 20s to seniors in their 70s and 80s.

The ARA's best previous performance in the World Masters Games was a two-medal showing in Edmonton in 2005. The 15-year-old club claimed one medal in Sydney in 2009.

Anchorage Daily News