So, the eventing at the Olympics is officially over, and now we have to wait two whole years until WEG. As a spectator/fan, this sucks!!! As a rider, I’m not sure how I would feel. Would I be excited to have 2 years to rebuild my string and improve my weak phases, now having a better idea of what I need to do to compete with the best?… or would I be hungry to go out and have a re-do thinking it was just bad luck that caused me not to medal?
The Canadians – Well, we had a weekend that didn’t go according to plan. Even had our riders had personal bests in dressage and finished on those scores, our best wouldn’t have been good enough to medal. The Germans finished the team competition on a 133.70 to win gold, which is an average of 44.56. We didn’t have 3 riders who could have finished on those scores. To match our silver from 2010 WEG, we would have needed to finish on a 138.2 (or an average of 46.1… again, currently out of our reach). Bronze was a score of 144.4 (48.1). This was likely just out of our reach… but to expect 3 horses to complete on their dressage score at the Olympics? Very high goal… we need to be better at all 3 phases to medal.
Jessie was the highlight of the Canadians’ weekend. After a personal best dressage and a very good cross-country (with minimal time penalties), she then had uncharacteristic rails in both showjump rounds (though the second round was much improved and she should be thrilled with her first Olympics).
By 2016, she will be back on the team and more competitive than other. I have no doubt being in London made her hungrier for the future.
The US also didn’t have a weekend that went according to plan. Even had Otis passed horse inspection on Tuesday and Karen/Phillip/Boyd finished on their cross-country scores, they would have had a 155.2. Not a medal performance.
Had their top 3 dressage rides (Phillip/Will/Karen) all finished on their dressage scores (138.8), that would have snuck them into bronze. But relying entirely on your three best dressage horses to complete on their dressage score at the Olympics is very unrealistic. The US also needs to get better… and the Facebook posts from Pollard Eventing and Will Coleman Equestrian suggest that being at the Olympics has made the US team hungrier than ever. Michael Pollard wasn’t there to compete, but went to cheer on his father-in-law and I am sure has an even better idea of what he needs to achieve in 2014 and 2016 to medal.
The highlights of the Olympics for me:
- I’m sure the Japanese dressage ride would have been one… but those of us in Canada weren’t fortunate enough to get to see it due to the lack of streaming, replays or tv coverage of Sunday’s dressage.
- Hawley Benett-Awad’s dressage test. What a time to put in a personal best! Looking at the horse’s FEI record, this was a long time coming and it was Hawley’s blood, sweat and tears that got it there. Her first two FEI events (at the CIC* level) back in 2005 and 2006 had scores of 63.93 and 81.4.
- Again, I’m sure Jessica Phoenix’s personal best dressage test would have been a highlight had CTV let me watch it!
- I am sure people will disagree with this choice – but Tiana Coudray’s ride. A year in England has done them well! A year ago, I’m not sure Tiana would have gotten that horse around on that day… but she worked for every single jump and made the best of a sticky ride. The improvement from Rolex 2011 cross-country to Monday was incredible. The 20 picked up at 3b is annoying, but look for them in 2014 and 2016. I predict Tiana and this horse will earn an individual medal before their career together is over.
- Jessica Phoenix’s cross-country ride was the highlight of the Canadian Eventing Team’s Olympic effort, hands down. She and Exponential ate the course up and looked like they had the most fun out of anyone out there.
- Nina Ligon had the ride of her life, with a few good saves. She worked her butt off to get to London and certainly did her country proud as their first Equestrian athlete. I know school will now be her priority, but she is far too talented and I hope we see her back on the world stage eventually.
- Watching William Fox-Pitt and Mark Todd out on course at the same time. Two legends of the sport who unfortunately did not receive individual medals this weekend. I selfishly hope this means they will be back in 2016!
- Had anyone told me before the Olympics started that I wouldn’t get to see William Fox-Pitt jump in both showjump rounds, I would have never believed them. The rules are such that its the Top 25 riders (but maximum 3 per country). Its the Olympics!! It should be the top 25 riders. Period.
Michael Jung putting in 2 flawless rounds to finish on his dressage score. After starting the competition in 11th place, he secured the gold medal. Yes, dressage is important… but finishing on that score is even more important!
- Karen O’Connor putting in two clear showjumping rounds on Mr. Medicott to finish as the top placed US (and North American) rider. Her hard work with Marilyn Little-Meredith most definitely paid off. She jumped 2 clear rounds at the Olympics, a clear round at the final selection trial at Barbury, all 3 of her horses jumped clear rounds at Bromont, Mr. Medicott jumped clear at Rolex… at all FEI competitions in 2012, the ONLY showjump penalties she has had are 12 at Jersey Fresh on Veronica. Mr. Medicott has not had a rail in any FEI competition he has done with Karen (and I’m too lazy to look up his non-FEI record).
So as us eventers recover from the Olympics (it’s exhausting waking up to watch them…. I can’t imagine how HJU’s Patricia feels being there)… it’s almost time to start watching the Dressage and Show Jumping competitions!