Steamboat rower wins bronze medal at U23 World Rowing Championship
University of Washington athlete continues to rise to the top of her sport
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Lark Skov never imagined she would be a part of a top college rowing program, and she never dreamed she would hold a world championship medal in her hand.
On Sunday, the 2016 Steamboat Springs High School graduate was one of eight athletes in the American eight-person boat that raced to a bronze medal at the 2019 World Rowing Under-23 Championships, in Sarasota, Florida. The team from the Netherlands raced to first place, followed by Great Britain in second.
“It was so awesome,” Skov said. “I remember back in December when we first started talking about applying for the U23 team. I had never considered it, because I didn’t think it was possible.”
She decided to apply and earned an invitation.
“Going into selection camp at the beginning of the summer, I didn’t have any expectations to make the team because I didn’t know how I stacked up,” Skov said. “I just decided to go in every day to see what I could do on the water, and I ended up earning a seat in the boat.”
Getting the chance to represent her county at the World Championships wasn’t something Skov dreamed about growing up in Steamboat. She was a cross-country skier when she was younger, but after taking a break from skiing during her junior year of high school, she realized she wasn’t going to reach the national level.
That’s when one of her ski coaches suggested rowing. Skov trained all summer after graduation, and in the fall, was able to walk onto the rowing team at the University of Washington.
This spring, she was part of the University of Washington team that won the NCAA national title.
The same drive that fueled her desire to make a college rowing team inspired her to take a shot at the World Championship team.
“Just to wear red, white and blue and have USA on my uniform — that was crazy — and something I never thought that I would experience,” Skov said. “It felt like the most official thing that I have ever done for sure, and it was a really awesome experience.”
In rowing, there are World Championships for rowers younger than 19, rowers younger than 23 and the senior rowers, which make up the U.S. National Team.
Former college and Olympic rower Annie Kakela, who also grew up in Steamboat, said making the U23 team is a big step for Skov.
“It is awesome,” Kakela said. “Rowing is one of those sports that you can join as a walk-on in college and still reach the highest levels.”
Kakela should know.
She started rowing competitively at Dartmouth and went on to earn a seat in the women’s eight. During a four-year international career, Kakela was part of the American boat that won a gold medal at the 1995 World Championships in Tampere, Finland, and placed fourth at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. She is one of three athletes from Steamboat to compete in the Summer Olympic Games.
After she retired, she spent several years coaching at the college and international levels.
“The national team head coach really looks at college walk-ons if they are in programs that he trusts will develop them,” Kakela said. “He uses the U23 system to identify athletes he thinks have the talent to actually be successful at the national team level.”
While Skov has had lots of success this summer, she isn’t looking too far ahead.
“When I was younger, I thought, just like every kid in Steamboat who skis, that I could go to the Olympics,” Skov said. “It was never a big dream of mine and certainly not with rowing because I didn’t know what rowing was … I need to take it one step at a time and see how this year goes. Then I will take it from there.”
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