The WEG Adventure Continues
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
All photos by Diana DeRosa
Not only did I succeed in doing that but I was there at 6:30 p.m. when Spanish rider Maria Mercedes Alvarez Ponton rode Nobby to win the Endurance Gold Medal. While the day was filled with many anecdotes trying to get the pictures of the winner crossing the finish line was a battle of wits, and so I’m going to start a bit backwards with my journey.
Yet when the winner started on his final lap – who do you think was standing right in the center of the path blocking our shot ---- the O.C. That was followed by hoards of enthusiastic team members blocking the view of the cameras. Whatever we managed to get were just lucky shots here or there because as each rider headed toward the finish line there was never a clear shot.
From there we hopped in vans and over the next couple of hours stopped at a few locations along the route. The first was just a big open field. It gave us a chance to get candid shots of many of the competitors but the backdrop was nothing special. The course was actually a series of six loops, much like a flower. All the loops began and ended at the same location, which was where the vet checks would always take place. In all the riders and horses were covering 100 miles.
In the end, Heather crossed the finish line fourth, which was thrilling for us but only later led to disappointment when she got spun in the vet check because of a slight lameness behind. Heather came over to the press conference area for a quick interview and wasn’t as disappointed as we thought.
“This is a young horse,” she commented, “and I was just hoping we would be in the top 20, so even though we didn’t finish I am still thrilled.”
In between I went over to the Reining but I’ll stay focused on Endurance for now. After photographing the last few riders in the Reining, their Medal Finals and the Press Conference, it was time to change lenses and head over to the vet area for Endurance. I was hoping to get some pictures of the U.S. riders in the vet area but it was hard to see where they were and so crowded that it was almost uninviting. Instead I opted to go out in the shuttle bus again to see what else was out on the course.
We got a chance to witness that after a bit of frustration with trying to get some photos. We stood out where we thought we could shoot from for about half an hour all set for the first riders to pass us. Just as we saw the rider and horse in the distance the steward kicked us off what was called the “field of play.” This wouldn’t have been too much of a problem except for the high fence that was taller than me that we were made to stand behind. In the end I missed getting my action shot of Heather but was able to get some “pit stop” shots of some of the other riders.
Fortunately, getting photos of the Reiners receiving their medals proved to work out just fine. While we were worried that some of the officials and the TV cameraman might block our view, in the end with the help from our photo chief we had plenty of time to get the winners. So, we were happy and the only thing we wished for was a bit more enthusiasm on the podium.
While we didn’t get that, there were lots of other perks that the winning U.S. team members did give us. Tim McQuay on Hollywoodstinseltown, Craig Schmersal on Mister Montana Nic, Tom McCutcheon on Gunner’s Special Nite and Shawn Flarida on RC Fancy Step shook hands with the crowd on their victory tour. They signed autographs and even one of the horses signed it too. Just take a look at the picture.
So, while there were times throughout the day that I felt frustrated, there were also many perks and good things. I know that part of our frustration comes from the fact that we are overworked and overtired and so we are just hoping to have access to some of the answers we need in a way that doesn’t prove to be too difficult. As difficult as it is for us, it’s also difficult for the organizers. There are lots of issues that they also have to deal with preventing them from helping us sometimes when they would like to do more. But in the end we somehow managed to get the details and the trials and tribulations are also part of what makes the story, the real story.
As always, feel free to email me with your questions or comments. If I can get the answer for you I will do my best (firstname.lastname@example.org). August 27th will mark the third day of this 16 day competition and what a ride it has been so far!