Be a part of history when the world arrives for the 2023 World Rowing Indoor Championships

By Stuart Miller-Davis

Canada is hosting the World Rowing Indoor Championships (WRICH) for the very first time on February 25 and 26 at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre in Mississauga Toronto, and you can be close to the action! The pinnacle event for indoor rowing globally, the World Rowing Indoor Championships have taken place since 2017 and attracts top competitors from the rowing world and fitness communities alike.

For the first time ever, the WRICH will be a “hybrid” competition. Racers in the 2000m and
500m distances will be competing in front of cheering spectators on the arena floor in the discipline that in recent years has become very popular around the world. The races will also feature a handful of the top Continental Qualifiers, who will be racing virtually from across the globe on their Concept2 ergometers in real time. Using the power of the internet, those competing from outside the arena will be connected to the same central timing and results system and use the same performance metrics as the competitors in Mississauga.

Another first this year is the World Rowing Versa Challenge, which will celebrate the most
versatile indoor rowing athletes in the world. Entries for this new competition, where
competitors will compete over two days at the championships for points in five events testing endurance, speed, strength, teamwork and stamina, closed at the end of November with ten men and ten women qualifying to compete in person in February. This heptathlon of indoor rowing will crown the best overall indoor rower in the world.

On the men’s side, Finland’s Joel Naukkarinen finished at the top of qualification. The four-time World Indoor Champion and 2022 World Rowing Beach Sprint bronze medallist holds the indoor rowing world record for 100km, which he completed in six hours and six minutes. One of his top challengers will be Canada’s Jason Marshall. The former pro rugby union player also played football at Simon Fraser University and had a tryout with Edmonton in the Canadian Football League before turning to rugby. He made 31 appearances for the Canadian National Team including starting all four of Canada’s group stage matches at the 2011 Rugby World Cup. He’s now a firefighter in North Vancouver and after stumbling across the online community of indoor rowing, he was a finalist in the 2019 World Urban Games and 2020 World Rowing Virtual Sprints.

Another top-class Versa Challenge competitor in February is former NFL lineman Matt
Stankiewitch. The Penn State football star burst onto the competitive indoor rowing scene finishing first in the Men’s Open 500m at the Canadian Indoor Rowing Championships in 2022 and competing at the 2022 World Rowing Virtual Indoor Championships.

Six different nations will be represented in the Men’s Versa Challenge event in Mississauga, just west of Toronto. Canada leads the way with three athletes.

On the women’s side, the USA’s Kristen Kline finished with the top qualifying score. The 34-year-old holds three indoor rowing world records and will be attempting to defend her title from the 2021 World Rowing Indoor Championships.

Canada’s Sarah Pidgen, who has competed internationally as a coastal rower since 2018, and recently qualified Canada for the 2023 ANOC World Beach Games, will also be lining up in person for the Versa Challenge.

Rowers from six different nations will be participating in the Women’s Versa Challenge. The USA leads the way with four competitors.

Spectators will also be able to see exciting races of 2000m, 500m and team relay events with participants from 17 and under to 70 plus competing on 200 rowing machines or ergs as they are known stacked side by side on the hockey arena floor. 

Entries for the in-person 2000m and 500m races are open until 8 February 2022.

The event will be fun for the whole family. Tickets start at only $20 and children under 12 are free if accompanied by an adult.

We hope to see you in the crowd cheering on all the athletes in this fast-growing sport in