Norwegians in Dunedin after frozen out at home

Norwegian women’s rowing pair Siri Kristiansen and Hanna Inntjore in the North End Rowing Club...
Norwegian women’s rowing pair Siri Kristiansen and Hanna Inntjore in the North End Rowing Club boat shed on Thursday. PHOTO: CRAIG BAXTER
Dunedin could not be further away from home for a Norwegian duo. But it's proving a useful training ground as they chase their Olympic rowing dream.

Siri Kristiansen and Hanna Inntjore are in the city until Christmas.

Coached by Mike Hill - who is from Dunedin but spends much of his time in Norway — the country’s women’s pair crew were looking for some more optimal training conditions.

The water was frozen at home, as it is the middle of winter in Norway.

Kristiansen and Inntjore had been in Dunedin for three weeks and were staying with Hill.

"It’s been good,’’ Kristiansen (26) said.

"We’ve had a little bit of wind, but you can’t really do anything about that. It’s a lot better than frozen water like we have at home."

The pair rowed for the Christiania Roklubb (Rowing Club), although had linked with North End in Dunedin.

They had raced at two regattas and would contest next weekend’s Otago championships.

Those had been enjoyable and they also got to race with St Hilda’s Collegiate and Dunstan Arm rowers.

Being the only high-level women’s pair in Norway, they did most of their racing against junior boys at home.

It was at the international level where they came up against women.

They had only been sweeping together since May — Norwegian rowing is predominantly sculling-based — but they had been to several big regattas.

That included the world championships in August, which was a great learning experience.

The Olympic qualifying regatta hosted by Switzerland in May was the next big target.

A top two finish there would qualify them for the Tokyo Games next year.

"We’re giving that a go, then we’ll see,’’ Inntjore (25) said.

"Maybe we’ll do another four years. In 2024, we’ll be the peak rowing age."

While sweeping was somewhat uncommon to Norway, it was not to either rower.

Both had been to university overseas and were part of sweeping crews there.

Kristiansen was initially a swimmer and had been on a scholarship at the University of Indiana in the United States.

However, an injury left her unable to swim the breaststroke.

The university’s rowing coach had seen her on the erg during fitness sessions and had made an offer for her to attempt rowing.

She took him up on that and spent the second half of her time at college rowing.

On returning to Norway she joined a lightweight double scull crew, before linking with Inntjore.

Inntjore, meanwhile, began rowing at 12 after being introduced to it through her father, who is a coach.

She went to university in Durham, England, and rowed there, before returning to also initially scull.

The duo had spent time training with the national squad in Oslo.

However, now they were locked in their boat they had been freed to train where suited them.

That included getting more sweeping expertise through Hill.

They leave Dunedin on Christmas Day.


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