Fritzens, AUT - When Karen Pavicic and her 14 year old Don Daiquiri she co owns with Jayne Essig shipped back to Canada from Wellington, their winter Wellington effort had them in a good position for being selected as one of the two Canadians to ride as individuals at the Rio Olympic Games. In late June, fellow World Equestrian Games teammate Megan Lane put in a stellar ride in Canada to earning her a qualification average of 71.088. The gap was a minuscule .049%, and Pavicic decided to go for it.
Her last chance was to ship herself and her horse the the final qualification period to Austria, to compete at the famed he CDI4* located in Fritzens, at Schindlhof, owned by the famous Swarovski family, hosting their 22nd annual event. Canadian riders wishing to compete in Austria CDI4* from June 30 – July 4 would be required travel to Toronto, Europe, and then back to New York for pre-departure quarantine before flying to the Olympic Games Venue in Rio de Janiero within 10 days. "I just couldn't not give it a try." said Pavicic, who flew alone arriving in Luxembourg and followed the transporter in a rented car arriving just in time for the jog.
"It's actually easier this way." commented Pavicic. "I just have one horse, and it could be it could be a lot worse, " she smiled as she gazed at the towering alps overlooking the arena.
Fortified with the support of a "gofundme" effort and family, they almost did it in the Grand Prix, a class of 25 entries including the German powerhouse and other nations going through their pre Olympic motions. She finished 7th with "Dono" scoring a 71.44 with Katrina Wust (GER) at E in 4th place, and a 70.300 with Elisabeth Koffmahn (AUT) at M in fourth place. Stephan Clarke (GRB) at C had her 8th at 69%, and at H Ghislain Fourge (NED) place the Canadian duo 6th with a 68.6. It was Olympic judge Marible Alonson de Quinzanos (MEX) whose low score of 66.9 at 11th that brought the average she needed just below he needed total.
There was still the Grand Prix Special, and with a day off before the class that would earn Werth and Emilio the only result of the weekend over 80% (80.196). As they entered the arena during the first half of the test, the averages were mostly over 70% and things were looking good. But a mistake in the every other changes dropped their percentage. They nailed the 15 flying changes, and her small cheering session was praying for a miracle. But by the end of the test the score had dropped to a 67.804. She needed a 69.999.
"I had a tired pony," Karen conceded when the day was over and she bid farewell to host and organizer, Klaus Haim.
Karen thanked her many friends, family and her horse on Facebook. “I am blessed to have so many people who have helped and supported me along this incredible journey. The decision to make the trip half way across the world has not been met with regret, only with gratefulness for yet another wonderful experience. The past 6 months certainly have not been easy, however, we have given it our all, and for that I am extremely proud! I am truly overwhelmed with the love and support that we've been shown from around the world, it is sincerely appreciated. Thank you all, especially Don Daiquiri!”
It was an honor to have been there and being with Karen during my first trip to Fritzens was a highlight. Enjoy these photos. Mary Phelps