The first thing you notice about gold medal winning Olympic rower Esther Lofgren is her smile. The next thing you notice is her height — at 6’2″ Esther towers over nearly everyone she meets, but she’s warm and will happily stoop to accomodate those around her. The Harvard grad took home the gold during the London Olympics with an impressive team performance in the women’s eight-person race.
We spoke to Esther while she was getting her nails done at the P&G Family Home salon about how she made it to the Olympics, what it’s like to work with all women, and how she keeps her skin looking so damn good.
You tried to make the women’s Olympic rowing team in 2008, but just missed it. What happened?
This is my seventh year on the team. I took the year off from university and tried out to make the Beijing team, I was the last one cut from the boat, which was pretty bittersweet because they won a gold, which was amazing. I was so proud of them; it was pretty amazing, but hard, to be watching from my friend’s house in Berkeley. But it was also really motivating. So I kind of put my head down for the last four years and worked really hard to be here.
The best races of my career were the two we had here. I think that’s all you ever want. It was also just so special; my mom was at the P&G salon earlier this week, and you know, she tried out for the Olympic rowing team in 1984, and she was the last one cut from the team. To be able to share that with her and my dad — who was also an elite rower who didn’t make a team — has just been really, really special.
They’re so excited, so over the moon. They’ve spent a whole bunch of time at the P&G house, and it’s been a really great meeting place for us. And now I’m here being pampered. It’s really exciting.
So you’re really a legacy.
Yeah, there are one or two other guys on the team whose parents were rowers also, so it’s really neat. It’s mostly a sport that people stumble into after doing one or two other sports. To be able to share with my parents — they know what it feels like when things go well or go badly — it’s just really special.
You won as part of an eight-person team. Can you talk about what it’s like to work with a team of other women, and how that affected your experience?
It’s really incredible because you’re literally trying to do exactly the same thing at the same time. When a race goes well, you’re really feeling each other, and it goes well because there’s a level of trust and a level of respect that you don’t ever really communicate, you just know. We just had this really strong start, and coming down the course we sit backwards, so you can see everybody, and it was really just awesome. I’ve also never raced in front of so many people, just 30,000 people screaming — you couldn’t even here our coxswaine for the last couple of minutes. So, that trust and respect and love for each other, that was what we were communicating. It was awesome to know that was what was taking across the line.
What is the best part of what you do as a rower?
I love it. The trust and respect that I have with my teammates is a really different relationship than I’ve had doing other sports. It’s really neat to share it.
Have there been other athletes that you were hoping you would meet while you’re here?
I went to a big volleyball high school in Southern California. It’s actually where Misty May Treanor and April Ross went. So I got to see April before one of her matches and wish her luck and that was really great. I’ve also gotten the chance to meet some of the swimmers; we were watching the swimmers so much right before our races, and that was really inspiring.
What’s the atmosphere like inside OlympicVillage?
I’m still overwhelmed by how awesome it is. You all just have this excitement that you’re there. The race walkers are always going around the village. There are so many people who are still competing. The dining hall is really cool. There’s all the different countries there everywhere. You grab a tray and get all this great food, and you go sit down with all these different athletes.
Since we’re at the P&G house, we should talk a little bit about your beauty routine. Obviously you’re outside a lot and your skin is amazing. What’s your routine?
I try and keep my skin moisturized. We usually train twice or three times a day [Ed Note: THIS IS SO MUCH!] so I have to shower a lot. I try and keep my skin clean and moisturized. We don’t race with makeup on. I always love watching the track and field competitions because the men and women look so put together, but we usually look kind of disheveled. It’s really awesome to be in here and get to feel pretty and get all done up.