Pan American Individual Medal Race Tightens as USA Dominates

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Heather Blitz and Paragon in the Pan American Games Intermediaire 1. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

GUADALAJARA, Mexico, Oct. 17–The United States extended its domination of Pan American Games dressage with the battle for individual medals narrowing to three U.S. riders after the Intermediaire 1 Monday.

Steffen Peters and Weltino’s Magic who led the U.S. to their historic fourth consecutive gold medal a day earlier with a Pan Am record score was at the top of the leaderboard with a scoreof 78.079 per cent while team mate Heather Blitz on Paragon was less than one percentage back on 77.184 per cent and Marisa Festerling on BigTyme in third place on 74.316 per cent.

“The race is getting really, really tight which is wonderful and great for the sport,” said Steffen of San Diego, California. “Magic has a really good freestyle and so far every time it has worked out. The pressure is on for Wednesday and cruising through it won’t do it. I am going to have to take some risk and get on the gas pedal.”

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

Heather of Wellington, Florida, said that she and Paragon were on the wrong wavelength between the warmup and the competition arena but the eight-year-old Danish Warmbood “really took care of me.” “I am thrilled with the score and thrilled with the horse,” she said.

Marisa of Moorpark, California, seemed even more at home in the championship arena than a day earlier saying of Big Tyme, “he was incredible. I thought maybe he would be a little tired, but he was up for it. He had so much energy I was trying to keep him back a little because he was just giving me everything he had. I’m ecstatic. I think it was one of the very best rides I’ve ever had on him and it happened here so that’s even better.”

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

The individual medals will be decided by the Intermediaire Freestyle Wednesday of which the top 15 will compete, and it now seems that a single nation can win all three medals up for grabs.

In Monday’s Intermediaire, 12 combinations from six nations exceeded 70 per cent. However, Cesar Parra on Grandioso of the U.S. was one of those but only three combinations from one country can advance to the freestyle so he will not compete. Brazil, Canada and the U.S. will each have three riders in the freestyle.

In what has been a relatively uncontroversial dressage competition that is the qualifier for teams from the Americas for the Olympics, the top rider on the bronze-medal winning Colombian team, Constanza Jaramillo on Wakana received a wide variation in scores Monday. The pair were awarded 71.211 per cent for 7th place after placing third individually on Sunday.

Constanza and Wakana, bought from German Olympian Ulla Salzgeber who is also Constanza’s coach, received a high score of 75.790 per cent for third place from Gabriel Armando of Argentina and a low score of 66.184 per cent for 18th place from Lilo Fore of the U.S. The other three judges awarded the pair 70.790 per cent, 71.138 per cent and 71.974 per cent. Unlike the European Championships at Grand Prix which had seven judges and a supervisory panel with the power to change scores, these championships have a panel of five judges with no supervisory overview.

Constanza Jaramillo and Wakana. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Those advancing to the Freestyle, with Monday’s Intermediaire scores in parentheses, are:

1. Steffen Peters and Weltino’s Magic USA (78.079%)
2. Heather Blitz and Paragon USA 77.184%)
3. Marisa Festerling and Big Tyme USA (74.316%)
4. Tom Dvorak and Viva’s Salieri W Canada (73.079%)
5. Bernadette Pujals and ISUA Rolex Mexico (72.605%
6. Constanza Jaramillo and Wakana Colombia (71.211%)
7. Marco Bernal and Farewell IV Colombia (71.105%)
8. Crystal Kroetch and Lymrix Canada (71.100)
9. Tina Irwin and Winston Canada (70.842&)
10. Mauro Pereira, Jr. and Tulum Commando SN Brazil (70.711%)
11. Yvonne Losos de Muñiz and Dondolo Marismas Dominican Republic (70.342%)
12. Omer Zayrik and Lord Mexico (67.895%)
13. Antonio Rivera and Naval Mexico (67.184%)
14. Rogerio Clementino and Sargento do Top Brazil (66.974%)
15. Alejandro Gomez and Revenge Venezuela (66.737%)

In an apparent rule change that was not known by most nations, Pan Am Games organizers said that a single nation can win all three individual medals. They said the rule restricting the number of medals to be won by individuals from the same nation to two would not apply at these Games.

Dressage-news.com had questioned the rule several weeks ago as it could not be found in the Pan Am Games rules, but the International Equestrian Federation said that it was in the Pan Am Games charter. The Pan Am organizers confirmed it had been a rule that had been enforced at least once in the past but would no longer apply.