Aachen's Closing Ceremony is Always Magic
Monday, July 6, 2009
Riders from each country enter the arena before a packed stadium the size of 3 football fields, and the announcer tells the crowd to wave "bye bye". As a credentialed photographer, no matter how tired I am after 5 days of shooting, standing in the middle of it all is still one of the most exciting things I have ever experienced.
The crowd roared for their home country Germany, despite the tough week they had missing their leady lady Isabell Werth, and having an off year in their dominance of the sport. The crowd while mostly German greeted all countries with cheers smiles, and waves.
Towards the end the USA entered, with the Dressage Champion of Aachen Steffen Peters on a borrowed horse giving Ravel a break from a long week of work. We were disappointed not to see the other American Dressage rider, Catherine Haddad, who at the last moment was unable to arrange a borrowed horse. The US showjumping riders in their red jackets came in. Veterans to Aachen, McClain Ward, Todd Minikus and Laura Kraut had been there before.
When all of the riders have finished entering the ring, the entire audience lifted a white hanky and to the oompa German music to wave goodbye to their riders. The riders parade around the entire stadium, all with their hankies as well. Watching the sea of white hankies, even if victory there is no bigger smiles on the faces of the riders, who know they are loved and appreciated by the greatest audience an equestrian athlete can experience.
There is nothing like this love of the sport in the world. Farewell to Aachen, the wonderful organization and all our many friends, until next time.