Ulitsky Twins Racing for Gold at Club Nationals
By Rachel Day • July 11, 2018
Twins Ellen and Irene Ulitsky of Palo Alto Rowing Club are ready to race for gold in women’s sculling events at the 2018 USRowing Club National Championships at Cooper River, N.J.
The sisters will race in three events at club nationals, less than a week after competing at the USRowing U19 Trials. The two have been rowing together since seventh grade and are now in their fifth year with Palo Alto Rowing Club.
This week, they will race in the women’s U19 single sculls, U19 double sculls and U19 quadruple sculls. Last year, the twins placed fourth in the U19 double sculls and first in their quadruple sculls, which also featured another set of twins.
The women’s U19 double has 70 entries, but Irene said that months of training off and on the water has prepared them for the competition.
“We’re kind of short compared to most of the girls we compete against, so the way we have to win now is through fitness,” Irene said. “I think this year, we really have grown more as rowers because we’ve added more fitness in.”
Irene stands at 5’7” and Ellen at 5”8’, but their height hasn’t stopped them from being competitive in athletics even before joining crew. The two credit their older cousin and sister with inspiring them to try rowing after growing tired of traditional sports.
“We were playing a bunch of other sports before; we did ballet for four years and softball, volleyball all these other sports,” Ellen said. “I thought, ‘Okay, why don’t I just give rowing a try because it’s a completely different sport than what I’m used to.’ I tried it out and loved it ever since.”
After joining Palo Alto, the two have been racing their double for the past four years. Ellen said that being twins has helped the two master communication in the boat.
“I feel like now since we’ve been rowing together for so long we know how to handle it,” Ellen said. “We have these secret words that we know to tell each other and a lot more confidence.”
This summer has been busy for the Ulitsky twins. At the 2018 USRowing Youth National Championships, the duo placed eighth overall in their double. After training at selection camp all summer, the two left camp early after not making the quad to continue training in their double.
Irene said the two are hoping to place in all of their events at club nationals this year and pull a faster time in the double than they did at trials.
“We really want to get first this year, and we have a good boat now, so I think we’ll gain some speed for sure,” Irene said. “We actually don’t usually row a lot in our singles because we’re usually focused on our double, so I think the single is going to be more of a challenge.”
As far as long-term goals go, both Ellen and Irene are thinking ahead to ending their junior careers with some international racing.
“We want to go to trials next year again,” Ellen said.
“And win,” Irene added.
The Ulitsky twins have their first time trial Wednesday at 8:45 a.m. in the women’s U19 double sculls.To find all entries, click here.
Live streaming of races will be available all day Thursday, Friday morning, Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday on USRowing’s YouTube channel.