July 10, 2012
VirginiaSports.com recently caught up with former Virginia rowing All-American Christine Roper, who will compete for Canada for the third consecutive year at the 2012 World Under-23 Rowing Championships, which will be held July 11-15 in Trakai, Lithuania. She will compete in the women's 4- (without a coxswain) along with rising senior Susanne Grainger.
Question: Where have you moved to after UVa and what are you doing for work these days?
Roper: I've spent the last year living in Victoria, British Columbia. I worked at a boarding school as a boarding advisor, which was a ton of fun. I tried to row as much as I could, but for the most part I was having fun and taking some time for myself to step back and figure out what I want to do from here.
Question: With rowing being a very team-oriented sport, have you seen the skills you learned from being a teammate play out in the "real world?"
Roper: Definitely. I have learned how to communicate with others and to not quit when the going gets rough because other people depend on you! I will never find another team like Virginia rowing and I value everything they taught me!
Question: Where have you been continuing your training for rowing? How has the training been going?
Roper: While I lived in Victoria, I trained on Elk Lake with Antje (Von Seydlitz-Kurzbach), one of my teammates in the 4- this summer. While at Virginia, I rowed nothing but eights so I took the time over this past year to get more comfortable and gain more speed in the smaller boats. I think it has paid off and helped to make me a more rounded and experienced rower.
Question: How does it feel to represent Canada for the third straight year at the World Under-23s?
Roper: I am honored to be selected for my third straight team. I have been to some amazing places that I probably would not have traveled to if it were not for rowing. Every year, the atmosphere and the people are different but you always feel excited and ready to race! This is my last U23 year however, so I am leaving it all on the course and holding nothing back!
Question: What will you take from your previous experience at the U23s and use at this year's regatta?
Roper: I feel that now it is my responsibility to lead some of my younger teammates and share some of the lessons that I have learned so that as a team everyone walks away happy, proud and with no regrets. The last two years have taught me to hold my head high because we are among the best of our age in the world and there is nothing to be afraid of because we have worked just and hard and want to win just as badly as any body else! I think I have also learned to roll with the punches. Things always go wrong during travel, but the best thing to do is pick your self up and make the best of any situation.
Question: Last year, you and Susanne (Grainger) were in the women's eight that won gold, and this year you both are in the women's 4-, what will be the biggest difference from last year to this year?
Roper: Well every boat feels different and there are many things that need to change in a race depending on what type of boat you are in. One major difference for us is that we do not have a coxswain, which means we are responsible for steering the boat and executing the perfect race plan without someone telling us what to do every stroke. The four of us get along really well and make it a priority to all be on the same page about everything. I am excited to race with a fellow Cavalier again! I know that rowing at Virginia makes you tough and I have no doubt that Susanne will be racing at her best this year!
Question: What are your plans for the future in the sport after U23s?
Roper: As of now, the plan is too keep rowing. I am very proud of what I have been able to accomplish thus far in the sport, but my long-term goal is to make an Olympic team. Hopefully after 2012, I will be invited to join the national team and help build a strong team for 2016!
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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