European Under-25 Championships Freestyle Canceled After Bizarre Decision to Keep Going Without Music After Sound System Problems
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
LAMPRECHTSHAUSEN, Austria, Sept. 3, 2017–The European Under-25 Championships Freestyle was canceled midway through the medal competition when sound system problems led to a bizarre decision by officials to continue without music after a lengthy delay but the leaders of national teams protested and the event was called off.
Riders had come from all over Europe–Spanish rider Juan Matute, Jr. from the United States where he is based–many having spent large sums for new musical compositions for the popular musical performances in the second year of the under-25 championships.
The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) which owns the championship said it would consider some other venue at some undecided date to re-stage the musical performance.
“A farce,” “ludicrous,” were remarks by some chefs d’equipe after the decision by the judges and technical delegate Freddy Leyman of Belgium and an FEI representative present, was announced after four of the 18 rides were completed then the wrong music came halfway through the ride by the fifth combination.
The organizers publicly apologized and agreed to pool the prize money of €5,000 (US$5,930) and spread it evenly to the 18 riders.
The 18 riders in the freestyle came from seven nations, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
The problem with the sound system arose during the ride by Sweden’s Mathilde Hannell on Deela Mae.
She and her coach, Jan Brink, complained to the TD who informed the ground jury president Elisabeth Max-Theurer of Austria.
The five judges, the TD and the FEI representative discussed the issue for almost 30 minutes with no announcement made to other riders warming up or the public that had come out for the musical performances in relatively warm and sunny weather after two days of relentless rain and low temperatures.
The decision was then announced to continue the performance without music and the scores would be for technical marks only.
The chefs of the teams, most of them experienced high performance riders and team managers, met beside the rail of the competition arena as the rides continued to protest what they labeled an unfair decision, plus riders who had been in the warm-up arena for a half-hour while the judges, the TD and the FEI official discussed a course of action.
The chefs then met with the technical delegate and the FEI official to make known their unanimous recommendation to terminate the freestyle competition because so many aspects made it unfair to so many riders and horses.
It could not be determined whether a similar situation had occurred previously at a championship.
Germany won the team competition, the Netherlands second and Sweden third, with Germany’s Lisa-Maria Klossinger on FBW Daktari taking individual gold, the Netherlands’ Anne Meulendijks on MDH Avanti silver and Spain’s Juan Matute, Jr. on Quantico Ymas bronze.