He has rowed two different boat types and even more combinations. Medal wholesaler Kristoffer Brun (34) has had a tough road to the WC semi-finals in rowing on Friday.
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Brun experienced a very dramatic end to his long-standing collaboration with Are Strandli. The Norwegian lightweight double capsized during the Tokyo Olympics last summer. After 11 medals from international championships in the class with weight restrictions, the Bergen native has moved into the open class.
It has been difficult for the technically gifted Brun. Originally he was put in the Norwegian double four together with the rowers who did not succeed together with Olaf Tufte in the Olympics. But Norway’s new national team manager, Mark Emke, gave up on this boat in June.
Thus, a frustrated Brun was put on the sidelines instead of rowing the World Cup.
Then it was over to a trial phase in double sculls. Several combinations were tested. It ended with Brun and Oskar Helvig going to the World Cup final in Switzerland by car (due to the air strike). There they were number nine.
So it was back to Norway and a new boat change. Brun was put back in the double four during a stay at altitude at Høydalsvatnet just below Galdhøpiggen. But the new double four is not successful either – finished second last during the EC in August.
Brun left the boat. After two qualification races in double sculls, Kristoffer Brun was finally selected for the WC together with Helvig. Then there were only three weeks left until the WC in the Czech Republic.
– When you don’t have a set team, it is extremely difficult to find good solutions, says Brun to VG in an interview conducted before the WC.
– If not chaos, at least a lot has ended up on each other. It is difficult to evaluate, replies Brun.
– I understand that it has been tough. But we had to go through this process. Kristoffer Brun and Oscar Helvig work well together, says Mark Emke.
After nine seasons with Johan Flodin as national team manager, Emke has taken over. The 63-year-old from Amsterdam has coached the Dutch men’s national team for two periods. The last one ended with great success. The two boat types Brun has rowed this season – double fours and double sculls – won gold and silver for the Netherlands in the Tokyo Olympics last summer.
In Norway, the start-up has been more difficult. Emke has had some success with Ask Tjøm and Lars Benske in the lightweight class, but on Thursday the medal hopes ended clearly last in the semi-finals. The double four also had no chance of reaching the WC final.
– It has taken a long time to find out the group of sculler rowers. I hope we have the right combinations now. I thought for a while that the double four worked, but found out that it didn’t. These rowers have a history and not all go together equally well. We had to change, explains Mark Emke.
The Olympics in 2024 is Brun’s big goal. That has not changed during a difficult year.
– I was prepared for this season to be a trial year. Perhaps it has become a little more messy than I had imagined. But I think when the coach and we get to know each other well, we’ll see what can give us momentum. So I hope that we can continue to work together in this combination next year. But now we must be done with the exploration phase. We must get closer to setting the boats, creating stability and results, says Kristoffer Brun.
On Friday, Kjetil Borch and the double sculler with Thea Helseth and Jenny Rørvik will also fight for a place in Sunday’s WC finals in the Czech Republic.