Chaparral Wolverine senior cracking ‘sculls’

Lips gets spotlight as rowing talent

Posted 6/2/09

After nine years as a figure skater, Madeline Lips made a jump into the water. With a boat and an oar that is. Lips, an incoming senior at Chaparral …

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Chaparral Wolverine senior cracking ‘sculls’

Lips gets spotlight as rowing talent


After nine years as a figure skater, Madeline Lips made a jump into the water.

With a boat and an oar that is.

Lips, an incoming senior at Chaparral High School, has only been rowing since her freshmen year but has earned herself a national eye. A member of the Mile Hi Rowing Club, formerly a part of Rocky Mountain Junior Crew, Lips has received an invitation to a selection camp for the junior national system with the possibility of being selected for the Junior National rowing team. Only 50 kids in the nation received an invite to the camp this summer in Connecticut.

In addition, Lips finished in ninth place in the junior women-heavyweight division of the Crash B’s indoor rowing competition in Boston last February, among an international field, with a time of 7 minutes, 23.6 second over a distance of 2,000-meters.

The incoming senior Wolverine started indoor rowing her freshman year after nine years as a youth figure skater. One of her Mile Hi Rowing Club coaches was involved with the figure skating world as well, and Lips became connected to rowing from there.

“I was looking for a sport that wasn’t very pretty, cause that wasn’t my thing,” Lips said. “I really liked indoor [rowing], so I said I might as well try outdoor.”

She eventually tried out for a junior national development system camp that same school year and was accepted based on her rowing machine time. Lips knew she better get in the water and train in outdoor rowing a few times before the camp. She’s been rowing ever since.

The fall season of her sophomore year, Lips became a part of the Colorado Junior Crew, which trained and competed at Boulder Reservoir. She raced 4-person boat with them five days a week, four hours out of her day.

That winter, she rowed indoor again and eventually talked to Mile Hi head coach Grace Malacrida who invited Lips to race with Rocky Mountain Junior Crew. On Feb. 20 of this year, Lips rowing team formed its own outfit called the Mile Hi Rowing Club, which trains at Cherry Creek Reservoir.

In the spring of Lips’ sophomore year, the Chaparral standout competed in singles rowing and with two other male rowers.

“That was a good season,” Lips said. “It was a lot of singles rowing, a lot of sculling.”

Sculling is two-oar rowing, while sweep rowing involves one oar per person in the boat. At the collegiate level, sweep rowing is most common, and it is what Mile Hi Rowing’s boat are training in presently. Lips said although she likes being in a single, she enjoys sweep very much.

Recently, Lips’ Mile Hi 8-boat qualified for junior nationals competition this summer in Ohio, which means the training at Cherry Creek has stepped up, 5-6 days a week. Just another event to add to Lips’ already busy summer schedule, which includes the selection camp and debate nationals in Oklahoma.

“A week before the selection camp, I’ll be at debate nationals,” Lips said. “Then I come back to rest for a day before the selection camp. It’s kind of a crazy summer.”

Given figure skating already requires a high amount of leg and core-muscle strength, Lips said her lower body conditioning helped when she made the switch to rowing.

“Rowing is an all-body workout. You use your core a lot. You use your arms a lot,” Lips said. “People think it’s all arms, but a lot of it is your legs, cause your seat actually moves, so you push off with your feet. That’s the bulk of the stroke. You have to use everything. I’ve definitely built up a lot more muscle since doing this.”

Lips said figure skating has also helped her prepare for the mental part of rowing. She describes skating as being far more mentally demanding.

“Figure skating was really mentally crazy,” she said. “After that, rowing is so much more awesome, cause I can just do it and not worry about it. I don’t have a lot of mental hang-ups in rowing.”

Regardless, her mental game is where she’s been putting the most emphasis in preparation for the selection camp, Lips said; two weeks of weeding out rowers, pushing them and seeing what they are made of.

“That’s not going to be like anything I’ve ever done,” Lips said. “I’m excited to be with that kind of talent.”

With her senior year on the horizon, Lips is already thinking about college. In fact, she’s already started. As a junior, Lips is top of her class at Chaparral and had five advanced placement classes this past school year. In addition, she has debate, rowing and writing for the school’s newspaper among her extra curricular activities.

And obviously, college rowing is a big goal for her to achieve.

“That is, in my mind, the peak of my rowing career,” Lips said.

She said if she had her choice, she would love to row for an eastern school because she enjoys the change of seasons. Also, for academic reasons, she hopes to end up rowing at an ivy league institution. Since Lips has a tendency to refuse to give up, her goals aren’t exactly unachievable.

“I just don’t accept giving up, I guess,” she said. “Rowing is about pushing yourself. Everything your brain is telling you goes against what your body is doing, and you have to push through it. It’s kind of like running or biking in that sense.”


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