July 30, 2010 - Friday
Before I discuss the day, I owe an apology to Taylor Land. Yesterday I reported that she had a refusal in the Individual Junior Championship and I erred. She led the class with no errors. Sorry about that Taylor.
July 30, 2010 - Friday
The team competition is run under a Nations Cup format, with the scoring, format, and conditions the same as for the Super League and the Olympics. This is a grueling, pressure packed competition, and for many of the riders, their first experience in a team environment.
The Juniors started off, and six teams contested the medals. Clear rounds were hard to come by, and the water proved challenging for a number of riders. The Alberta Team (Canada) threw down the gauntlet and dared the other teams to catch them. Both Bretton Chad (Calle 11) and Ben Asselin (Lolita) posted clear rounds for the Alberta team. Jasmine Wiggins (Little Milton) and Alexandria Smith (Calira) each posted four, with Alexandria’s four serving as the drop score.
With only four faults after the first round, the Alberta team had two rails in hand. Zone 10 sat second with 12 faults, and Zone 5 was sitting third with 24. Although Zone 5's Abigail McArdle (Sacha 12) was eliminated, Catherine Tyree (Triton) kept the team in the game with a clear round, and Calvin Dobbs (Ultimate VDL) had four. Zone 8 struggled and with three riders eliminated, their hopes for even a team completion vanished.
As the second round unfurled, many riders improved their scores. Perhaps a second tour around the course helped, and nerves had undoubtedly calmed. Riders got down to business, and many improved their first round scores. Zone 4 rallied from their fourth place slot and posted two clear rounds in their second tour. With a score of eight, suddenly they were in medal contention. Zone 10 posted another 12 faults in the second round and sat solidly in the medals, but it looked like California would not take home the Gold.
The Alberta riders only added nine faults to their four from the first round, and Ben Asselin posted another clear round. Gold was theirs, and the Canadian riders celebrated. So far Canada has clinched a Dressage Gold Medal, a Reining Gold Medal, and a Show Jumping Gold Medal. Oh Canada!
Ben Asselin’s two clear rounds in the team competition propelled him to the top of the Junior Individual standings as well and just a rail separates him from the other riders. Three riders – Meg O’Mara (Zone 2), Frances Land (Zone 4), and Catherine Tyree (Zone 5) – all have just four faults. Jacelyn Neff (Zone 10) rounds out the top five with eight faults.
After the medal ceremony and a course change, we got underway with the Young Rider Team competition. Darkness was settling in, and the stadium lights began to take over from the sun. Jessica Springsteen (Zone 2) and Ali Wolff (Zone 5) made the course look easy as they each posted clear rounds early in the class, but only two other riders managed clear rounds – Lucy Davis (Zone 10) and Luis Alejandro Plascensia (Mexico). Once again the water proved challenging, and the first fence came down a number of times.
Zone 10 took an early lead and finished the first round with only eight faults. Zone 3, with only three riders sat second with 15 points and Zones 2 and 5 were third with 20 points. Defending champion Zone 2 struggled after Jessica’s great lead off ride. Karen Polle and Katie Dinan each accrued 16 faults, but Reed Kessler rallied with only a rail to keep Zone 2 in medal contention.
The pressure was even greater, because per FEI rules only six teams returned for the second round. However, even if a team didn’t qualify for the second round, the team’s riders could still compete in order to earn a score toward the individual standings.
The teams from Mexico and Alberta/Manitoba (Canada) qualified as the fifth and sixth teams for the second round.
A number of individuals led off before the team portion got underway, and despite the late hour everyone stayed to cheer for their teams.
The teams from Mexico and Canada both struggled, but Marshall White of the Alberta/Manitoba team posted a clear round which topped the Mexican team and the Canadians finished fifth. Zone 3 was riding with no drop score and was in Silver Medal contention until Catherine Pasmore had a heartbreaking rail at the last fence and her team was relegated to fourth.
Zones 2 and 5 each put 12 faults on their respective scorecards and remain tied. Ali Wolff jumped another clean round to keep her Zone 5 team in the game. While Zones 2 and 5 had to jump off for the Silver, the Californians were not going to let Gold slip from their grasp. Gold was discovered in California, and this team was going to keep it there. Taylor Seibel and Saer Coulter ensured their team’s success when they each logged clear rounds.
While Zone 10 was celebrating, Zones 2 and 5 were jumping off and trading the lead back and forth. In the end, Zone 5 edged Zone 2 by just two faults and took home the Silver, with the girls from New York and New Jersey settling for Bronze.
The Individual rankings moved up and down throughout the night, but in the end Jessica Springsteen goes into the Young Rider Individual Final (Sunday) with just the slightest lead. She carries a 5.44 while Zone 10's Tayler Seibel has a score of 5.48.
In fact, the scores are so close that the top six are separated by less than a rail. Sunday will come down to accurate, consistent riding, and no doubt the course will be big and technical.
Ali Wolff’s two clear rounds moved her up to fourth (5.93) and Reed Kessler is still in the hunt with a score of 8. All five Zone 10 riders qualified for the Individual Final on Sunday.
Full results are available on the NAJYRC website at http://www.youngriders.org/Results.aspx.
Photos: Catherine Chamberlain - Silver, Jamie Pestana - Gold, Stephanie Bedford - Bronze by Diana DeRosa