Just as there are faster courses on the ski slopes, and expertly maintained ice arenas and other surfaces that increase the quality of athletic competition, equestrian sports has it's expert too.
Hermann Duckek, from Denmark has been creating the finest footing for the world's largest most important competitions, including several past World Equestrian Games and Olympics.
The Lost Gold Medal
The Olympic Games were held in Montréal, Canada in 1976. The Olympic riding competitions were held in Bromont, one hour drive from Montréal. Germany, with Harry Boldt/Woyceck, Dr. Reiner Klimke/Mehmed and Gabriela Grillo/Ultimo, won the team competition in dressage. After the victory ceremony the riders made, as usual, the honorary round on horseback, happily waving to the big crowd.
The shock was incredible when Gabriela Grillo realized that she had lost her medal during the ride, knowing that a medal is not replaceable.
While the public was leaving the area, Hermann Duckek, surrounded and supported by his 12 volunteers, promised to do his best to find the lost medal in the sand of the big stadium - an enterprise similar to find the famous needle in the haystack. Incredible, but he succeeded.
At the age of 26, Hermann Duckek decided to hand over the daily running of his Parent’s farms to another family member, and to turn his hobby, riding, into his profession.
In 1966, at the age of 29, after an education in Flensburg, Germany with the famous old-master Karl Diel, Hermann Duckek achieved his Riding-Master title.
Hermann Duckek’s riding lessons brought him into contact with a group of Danes. The Danes asked Hermann Duckek to come to Denmark after his graduation as the leader of the Nordborg Riding Club.
At the end of 1966 Hermann Duckek married his German born wife Wiltrud, and the couple moved to their new country.
After working some years in Nordborg, Sønderborg and Hvam in Southern Jutland, he was asked in 1971 to continue his work at Holte Riding Club (HRK) in the north of Copenhagen. As riding-master and daily leader of the School, he felt the need for international contact and competition. With the consent of the Board of Directors, and by special agreement with HRK’s President, Jørn Engel-Møller, Holte Ugerne, the highly successful Holte Week was created.
At the HRK the most famous riders he trained with were Lis Hartel and Ulla Håkansson. Between 1966 and 1978, Hermann Duckek taught another 19 students seeking recognition as dressage riding masters.
Known for his well-kept arenas in Holte, Hermann Duckek in 1974 was asked to maintain the existing arena for the Dressage World Championship in Copenhagen. On this occasion he met the Chairman of the Canadian Equestrian Federation, Mr. George Jacobsen, who asked him for his cooperation to build the riding stadium for the Montréal Olympic Games in Bromont, Canada in 1976.
When building arenas, Hermann Duckek was always willing to take full responsibility for every project, he was a trouble-shooter, who always had the economic interests of the organizers and the expectations of the riders and the public in mind.
Fibresand in Stockholm, rubber-mats in the park of Wiesbaden, Geotex-sand-mixture in Gothenburg and other locations were Herman’s idea.
When in 1991 he brought the Volvo World Cup to Brøndby/Denmark (later to Vilhelmsborg) he created the idea of 4-in-hand driving in a hall, an idea which since has been adopted by several event organizers.
From 1978 and until his death in 2001 Hermann Duckek fully dedicated his professional life to international equestrian competitions.
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