World Rowing Indoor Rowing Championships to be held at T.C. Williams High School (courtesy photo)

With the Winter Olympics kicking off today in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the national capital region will host it's own international competition next week when the first ever World Rowing Indoor Championships are held in Alexandria over President's Day Weekend. 
"We are thrilled to be hosting the World Rowing Indoor Championships in Alexandria," stated race coordinator Lisa Zickar.  "The DMV has become one of the premier regions for rowing in the United States.  We hold top competitions, and regularly play host to some of the top athletes from up and down the East Coast.  We are looking forward to holding the World Rowing Indoor Championships in Alexandria and playing host to some of the top rowers from across the country and globe, as well.”
According to Zickar, over 2,000 athletes from 27 states and 33 countries are set to compete in the event.  U.S. rowers will come from as far away as Alaska,  and be drawn from such states as: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia.  The District, Maryland and Virginia will also be well-represented in the world championship, with top rowers from the DMV competing in the race, as well.
International rowers competing in the WRIC will come from as far away as China, and be drawn from such countries as: Afghanistan; Argentina; Armenia; Australia; Austria; Belarus; Belgium; Canada; Chile; Croatia; the Czech Republic; Denmark; Finland; France; Germany; Hungary; Ireland; Italy; Liechtenstein; Mexico; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Peru; Poland; the Russian Federation; Slovakia; Spain; Tunisia; Ukraine; and the United Kingdom.
The competition will be held in the Gerry Bertier Gymnasium at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria on Saturday, Feb. 17 and Sunday, Feb. 18.  Saturday's events will feature races for junior rowers, while Sunday's events will feature races for masters and para rowers.  For a complete schedule of events click here.       
Zickar noted that the WRIC will be held in conjunction with the Annual Erg Sprints Competition that has been held in Alexandria since 1986 and has grown in recent years to become the second largest indoor rowing competition in the world.  This year's event, she added, will be the biggest event of its kind in the world.  "We have built a great following with the Erg Sprints over the past three decades," Zickar stated.  "Hosting the first-ever World Rowing Indoor Championships is a great opportunity for Alexandria and the rest of the DMV. It's also a real honor, and one we are very pleased to have." 
This event is being held through the joint efforts of the Alexandria Crew Boosters, the World Rowing Federation, USRowing and Concept2. According to World Rowing Federation President Jean-Christophe Rolland, this combined effort recognizes the growth and development of indoor rowing as a separate discipline within the sport of rowing.  
“This partnership is designed to put indoor rowing exactly where it should be on the international sports map," stated Rolland, who won a Gold Medal in rowing for France at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.  "Participation in indoor rowing at an elite and competitive level has been skyrocketing in recent years, and it is time to give the sport an official championship status.” 
Patrick McNerney, the Chief Executive Officer of USRowing, agreed.  
“Indoor rowing continues to grow at a rapid pace and provides us with the opportunity to introduce the sport of rowing and its benefits to a much larger group of people.  We are thrilled to be part of this inaugural event and look forward to building upon its success during the coming years.”