USA Sweeps Pan Am Individual Dressage Medals for Historic First

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USA Pan American Games medalists Marisa Festerling, Heather Blitz and Steffen Peters. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

GUADALAJARA, Mexico, Oct. 19–The United States on Wednesday became the first nation to sweep the three individual dressage medals at the Pan American Games after an unprecedented fourth straight team gold medal in a feat rarely achieved at major championships.

In the Intermediaire Freestyle to determine the individual medals the “Dream Team” of Steffen Peters on Weltino’s Magic , Heather Blitz on Paragon and Marisa Festerling on Big Tyme won gold, silver and bronze, respectively, and personal best freestyle scores for the combinations for all of them. Combined results of the Intermediaire I and Freesyle determined the fnal placings which were 82.690 per cent for Steffen Peters of San Diego, California, 81.917 per cent for Heather Blitz of Wellington, Florida, and 77.545 per cent for Marisa Festerling of Moorpark, California.

The results and scores created a whole new level of records for the Pan American Games, second only to the Olympics as the world’s largest sporting event, and matched Germany’s sweep of the medals at the 1992 Olympics and The Netherlands team gold and all three Freesyle medals at the 2009 European Championships.

A record 12 teams and three individuals started the Prix St. Georges competition at the Guadalajara Country Club on Sunday with the U.S. winning its fourth straight gold medal, Canada siver and Colombia bronze to gain their first ever team berth at an Olympics. The quality of competition produced more combinations scoring above 70 per cent than ever before at these championships that are held once every four years but this will be the last time that the small tour will be a qualifier for future Olympics.

The U.S. squad lived up to the hype as a “Dream Team,” or a description by Technical Advisor Anne Gribbons, essentially team leader, as perhaps the best ever to go to a championship, with dominating performances by horses that are still developing.

Canadians Tom Dvorak on Viva’s Salieri W with 75.190 per ccent and Tina Irwin on Winston with 74.034 per cent finished fourth and fifth while Olympian Bernadette Pujals on IUSA Rolex was sixth on 73.728 per cent to be the hghest finishing Mexican.

Steffen Peters and Weltino's Magic in the Intermediaire Freestyle. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

“An amazing day, an amazing competition,” Steffen said in echoing the sentiments of most riders and officials who praised the superb organization, the friendliness of the Mexicans and the spirit of the dressage competition.

Right before going in, he said, he received a text message from his wife, Shannon, who runs their stable and training operation.

“Ride with the eye of the tiger and the engagement of a husband who has not seen his wife for three weeks,” it read.

That, he said, energized him to face a score of 86 per cent that Heather and Paragon had posted in the freestyle. Steffen rode to the New Age music by Seven and Five.

“The neat thing, he said, “is to produce winning results with Weltino’s Magic on both sides of the Atlantic.” The pair swept the small tour of the best horses in Europe at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen. Germany, three months ago and now against the best in the Americas.

“I don’t think it gets a whole lot better than this.”

Heather Blitz and Paragon. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

While Heather admitted she thought individual gold was within reach with her horse that gave 10 times more than she asked for but “when you’re up against a veteran who knows how to get it done and a rookie who rode so well…”

But she said, “the way I can get better is to repeat this when he moves up to Grand Prix next year” and she seeks a place on the U.S.team for the London Olympics.

“It was fabulous,” said Marisa of her first time on a U.S. international team “I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I’ve finally stopped crying so I can speak now.”

Marisa Festerling and Big Tyme. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Great Britain’s Stephen Clarke, president of the ground jury, said that determining the placings was not easy.

“For an Englishman to hear Marisa’s Beatles music was very special for me, as well as performing most of the exercises to a very high level.

“Heather’s Paragon is an outstanding horse. The elasticity and expression he displayed is out of this world.

“Then we saw Steffen, the ultimate professional, pulling out every stop and making the very best of a not a very experienced horse. That’s the most important thing. The horses were not so experienced and they did so well in this environment.”

Stephen Clarke’s comments sparked a rare dig by Steffen Peters at critics of the judging.

“I talked to many nations,” he said. “I heard nothing but praise for the whole panel. I take my hat off to them.

“I hope we can send a message to Europe this attacking of the judges is not coming from here and we are not supporting it.”

The final results:

Ground Jury
E ARG ARMANDO Gabriel
H FRA SALEH Raphael
C GBR CLARKE Stephen
M USA FORE Lilo
B CAN WHITHAM Cara
Rider Horse Int.I Technical / Artistic & (Rank) Int.I F Total Int.I + Int.I F
% Rk E H C M B Total %
1 USA PETERS Steffen WELTINO’S MAGIC
78.079
(1) 8.450
8.800
(1)
(1)
8.000
8.800
(2)
(2)
8.100
8.600
(2)
(2)
9.100
9.400
(1)
(1)
8.450
9.600
(2)
(1)
42.100
45.200
(1)
(1)
87.300
(1)
82.690
2 USA BLITZ Heather Anderson PARAGON
77.184
(2) 8.425
8.500
(2)
(2)
8.050
9.200
(1)
(1)
8.250
8.800
(1)
(1)
8.825
8.800
(2)
(2)
8.500
9.300
(1)
(2)
42.050
44.600
(2)
(2)
86.650
(2)
81.917
3 USA FESTERLING Marisa BIG TYME
74.316
(3) 7.725
8.100
(4)
(3)
7.750
8.700
(3)
(3)
7.525
8.100
(4)
(3)
8.275
8.400
(3)
(3)
7.800
8.400
(3)
(3)
39.075
41.700
(3)
(3)
80.775
(3)
77.545
4 CAN DVORAK Thomas VIVA’S SALIERI W
73.079
(4) 7.775
8.100
(3)
(3)
7.125
7.800
(8)
(7)
7.375
7.900
(5)
(5)
7.750
8.000
(5)
(4)
7.375
8.100
(6)
(4)
37.400
39.900
(5)
(4)
77.300
(4)
75.190
5 CAN IRWIN Tina WINSTON
70.842
(10) 7.500
7.800
(6)
(6)
7.375
8.100
(5)
(4)
7.550
8.100
(3)
(3)
7.775
8.000
(4)
(4)
7.325
7.700
(7)
(6)
37.525
39.700
(4)
(5)
77.225
(5)
74.034
6 MEX PUJALS Bernadette IUSA ROLEX
72.605
(5) 7.425
7.900
(7)
(5)
7.150
8.000
(7)
(6)
7.250
7.600
(8)
(8)
7.625
7.800
(8)
(7)
6.700
7.400
(11)
(11)
36.150
38.700
(9)
(8)
74.850
(8)
73.728
7 CAN KROETCH Crystal LYMRIX
71.000
(9) 7.325
7.800
(8)
(6)
7.450
8.100
(4)
(4)
7.275
7.600
(7)
(8)
7.700
7.900
(6)
(6)
7.475
7.700
(5)
(6)
37.225
39.100
(6)
(6)
76.325
(6)
73.663
8 COL JARAMILLO Constanza WAKANA
71.211
(7) 7.200
7.500
(9)
(9)
7.225
7.800
(6)
(7)
7.325
7.800
(6)
(6)
7.650
7.800
(7)
(7)
7.650
7.900
(4)
(5)
37.050
38.800
(7)
(7)
75.850
(7)
73.530
9 BRA PEREIRA JUNIOR Mauro TULUM COMANDO SN
70.711
(11) 7.550
7.700
(5)
(8)
7.025
7.800
(9)
(7)
7.075
7.300
(10)
(10)
7.500
7.800
(9)
(7)
7.025
7.500
(9)
(9)
36.175
38.100
(8)
(9)
74.275
(9)
72.493
10 COL BERNAL Marco FAREWELL
71.105
(8) 7.050
7.400
(10)
(10)
6.750
7.600
(11)
(11)
6.825
7.200
(13)
(12)
7.425
7.600
(10)
(10)
6.850
7.300
(10)
(12)
34.900
37.100
(11)
(11)
72.000
(11)
71.553
11 DOM LOSOS DE MUÑIZ Ivonne DONDOLO MARISMAS
70.342
(12) 6.775
7.000
(11)
(13)
6.500
6.900
(12)
(14)
7.075
7.200
(10)
(12)
7.200
7.400
(11)
(11)
6.700
7.500
(11)
(9)
34.250
36.000
(12)
(13)
70.250
(12)
70.296
12 BRA CLEMENTINO Rogerio SARGENTO DO TOP
66.974
(15) 6.600
7.400
(12)
(10)
7.000
7.700
(10)
(10)
7.175
7.700
(9)
(7)
7.200
7.100
(11)
(13)
7.075
7.600
(8)
(8)
35.050
37.500
(10)
(10)
72.550
(10)
69.762
13 MEX RIVERA Antonio NAVAL
67.184
(14) 6.550
7.000
(13)
(13)
6.500
7.300
(12)
(12)
6.500
7.100
(14)
(14)
7.075
7.300
(13)
(12)
6.650
7.300
(13)
(12)
33.275
36.000
(13)
(12)
69.275
(13)
68.230
14 MEX ZAYRIK Omar LORD
67.895
(13) 6.550
7.300
(13)
(12)
6.500
7.100
(12)
(13)
6.475
7.300
(15)
(10)
6.650
7.000
(15)
(14)
6.525
6.800
(14)
(14)
32.700
35.500
(15)
(14)
68.200
(14)
68.047
15 VEN GOMEZ Alejandro REVENGE
66.737
(17) 6.500
7.000
(15)
(13)
6.275
6.800
(15)
(15)
6.875
7.100
(12)
(14)
6.725
6.700
(14)
(15)
6.450
6.300
(15)
(15)
32.825
33.900
(14)
(15)
66.725
(15)
66.731