Former Nakkertok cross-country skier Andrew Stewart-Jones is finding success in his new sport, rowing. Photo provided
By Anne Duggan
To say that Andrew Stewart-Jones has landed on the RADAR is an understatement.
The former national-level cross-country skier from the Nakkertok Nordic club recently switched to a new sport, registering surprising results at races, and with Rowing Canada’s series of evaluating tests.
Rowing Athlete Development and Ranking (RADAR) is the five-test system that the Canadian rowing world uses to rank their athletes.
After moving to Peterborough and Trent University only four months ago, Stewart-Jones’ test results rank him at a remarkable level of fitness and technique.
“I did really well with the 6 km distance,” Stewart-Jones says about what he called a “painful” race against the clock. “I set a new Canadian record of 18 minutes and 20 seconds, beating the results of all of the guys on the Canadian silver medal team.”
The 22-year-old also received one of the top national times for his 2 km test, which is the official Olympic race distance.
“The hardest part of the testing process was being consistent over all the tests and all five days,” highlights the athlete who placed fourth in single sculls at August’s Royal Canadian Henley Regatta in St. Catharines, Ont.
Transition from ski boots to boats
At first glance, there seems to be little in common between Nordic skiing and rowing. One is a winter sport involving snow, ice, hills and forward-facing speed, while the other is a summer sport based on backwards movement across flatwater.
Stewart-Jones argues that his two decades on skis was excellent preparation for his new athletic pursuit.
“Skiing taught me the importance of technique,” he explains. “I know how to analyze it and I know how to pick it up. I watched videos for skiing and now I watch them for rowing. I know exactly what I have to do.”
In rowing, Stewart-Jones has also found a comfortable home for his frame. Where once his 6’4”, 220-lb. body and size 14 feet pushed the limits of his ski equipment, his size is now an advantage.
Rowing Canada recently put out the call for athletes over 6’3” with a willingness to sacrifice, and Stewart-Jones fits the bill.
“He is the same height as Michael Phelps but his wing span is actually an inch longer at 6’8”,” observes Kevin Jones, Stewart-Jones’ father and a coach with the Nakkertok ski team.
Stewart-Jones expects to spend the winter months training and learning more about rowing at Trent. He will also be pursuing a career in business, a stream he chose as a venue for his competitiveness.
“I was definitely frustrated with skiing,” Stewart-Jones notes. “So, I made the switch with no expectations.
“I have realized that with rowing, anything is possible.”