Gabby Rizika joins Olympic Development Program
May 23, 2016
Filed under Sailing
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Few student athletes nationwide have the opportunity to receive world-class coaching free of charge and the ability to travel across the world competing at the highest level.
Senior Gabby Rizika has been given this opportunity and has been invited to the U.S. Sailing’s Olympic Development Program. Rizika was 5th at the 2015 U.S. Junior Women’s Singlehanded Championships in laser sailing and 6th at the 2015 Chubb U.S. Junior Championships.
According to Rizika, the Olympic Development Program will prepare her for the world championships. There, she will get the highest level of coaching that the U.S. has to offer.
“Basically we get all of the Olympic staffing, all the Olympic coaches and it’s a funnel for the top U.S. sailing athletes to go and do Olympic campaigns,” Rizika said.
According Rizika’s brother and teammate, junior Ben Rizika, Gabby Rizika will be representing the U.S. in the 29ers sailing class and will be given many resources in her training.
“I know they get paid and their travel or a lot of their stuff is paid for,” Ben Rizika said. “So they pay for boats and coaching, and they get an expenditure to spend on the days they are sailing.”
According to Gabby Rizika, the Olympic Development Program hosts one or two clinics a month in either Florida or California. A sailor is invited to the clinics based on their past competition results, such those in national championships. Only the top sailors in each of the 10 sailing regions in the United States are invited.
“Because of my weight and my size, it is not feasible to sail in a single-handed boat, so the Olympic coordinator put me and my friend Hannah in a boat called 29er,” Gabby Rizika said. “And based on our past results they invested a lot of time and resources into us to make us good 29er sailors.”
Senior Noah Nsangou, a member of the sailing team, said that Gabby Rizika is a very significant presence on the team.
“She brings skill, leadership, charisma and humor,” Nsangou said. “ All of those things. In terms of skill, she is by far the best sailer on the team.”
Nsangou also said that although Gabby Rizika is very competitive, she also is eager to help her teammates improve.
“Her boat handling skills, like how maneuverable she is and that kind of thing, are off the charts,” Nsangou said. “It’s like playing with a Super Bowl champion on the high school football team.
Sailing coach Sarah Silvestri ‘15 was co-captain with Gabby Rizika last year and is currently the sailing team’s coach. Silvestri said that Gabby Rizika brings both her experience and knowledge of sailing to the team.
“She also brings a lot of experience from summer sailing events and going to lots of world level, national races, so that’s really cool,” Silvestri said. “She gets to train with some of the most prestigious trainers in the world so she brings experience from those events.”
Gabby Rizika plans on sailing for Cornell University after graduating this year.