Demanding Cones Course Improves World Championships Standing For USA Driver Nifty Hamilton
Monday, September 3, 2018
The overall standings after the marathon changed dramatically amongst all the drivers during the final phase, the cones, at the FEI World Championships for Singles in Kronenberg, NED.
The cones course designed by German Level 4 Course Designer Josef Middendorf, was challenging with 3 sets of serpentines, 4 sets of “skinnies”, some doubles and lots of tight corners. Add to that several difficult approaches making the 180 sec time over the 750m course was going to be tough.
After an admittedly disappointing marathon dropping them from 6th after the dressage to 9th, Team USA showed their best strength in this final phase to improve their overall result finishing in 7th place out of 11 teams. Team Coach Thorston Zarembowicz tuned up the US Team at training camp before Kronenberg, resulting in a solid performance of all US Drivers.
The morning started in reverse standing with eliminated drivers going first, followed by drivers in places 80 to 20. For Team USA this included Jacob Arnold, Vernon Helmuth, and Donna Crookston. Arnold and Crookston put in very nice rounds with slight time penalties each, and clear on balls.
The para drivers then did their cones on a different route in a slightly reverse order on a shortened course from the single drivers.
Then the final dramatic segment of the FEI World Championships Kronenberg 2018 for Singles was underway with remaining single drivers in places 20 - 1.
Starting first in 20th place after her combined dressage and marathon results, Nifty Hamilton put in an excellent round within the time and just one ball down. The large contingent of USA supporters in the stands were keeping a tally on who was dropping behind her with each round. With the drivers who followed her dropping more balls and having time penalties Hamilton's overall result went from 20th to 13 in the final tally.
The top 8 drivers in the final standings all had double clear rounds; no balls, no time penalties.
It came down to the fastest time in the cones to determine the winner of the cones phase. Bartlomiej Kwiatek (POL) who was 5th in Dressage, moving into second place after the marathon who earned the gold medal.
How the Cones Was Won
There were a number of double clear rounds, even early on in the day, but there were several rounds that 'went bowling' too. What became evident is those that did well had horses that were balanced, relaxed, forward and stayed connected.
The smoothest rounds could almost be described as a dressage test with cones. Very smooth, very little if any bouncing around of the horse. Most of the drivers did a majority of the course at a balanced canter, with flying changes at each cone in a zigzag, or at each change of direction even if for only a stride or two, making it look like tempi changes.
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