USA Wins Pan American Games Eventing Gold, Indidivual Gold to Canada’s Jessica Phoenix & Pavarotti

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USA gold medal eventing team at the Pan American Games. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

GUADALAJARA, Mexico, Oct. 23–The United States won eventing team gold at the Pan American Games Sunday without incurring a single jumping fault and all five finishing on their dressage score for the first time in the championship history of the sport. Jessica Phoenix of Canada on Pavarotti won individual gold, the first ever for her nation at the Pan Ams.

This was the third straight Pan Am gold medal for the United States team that this year comprised Hannah Burnett and Harbour Pilot, Michael Pollard and Schoensgreen Hanni, Buck Davidson and Absolute Liberty, Shannon Lilley and Ballingowan Pizazz and Lynn Symansky and Donner.

Canada was second for the second straight time in the continental championships that are held once every four years. Brazil was third.

Hannah and Harbour Pilot and Bruce and Absolute Liberty won silver and bronze, respectively.

Canada’s Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti celebrating individual eventing gold medal at the Pan American Games. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

In the team competition, the U.S. and Canada had already qualified for the Olympics so Brazil and Argentina, which came fourth, qualified teams for the Games in London next year.

David O’Connor, the Canadian coach and head of the U.S. Equestrian Federation, described the U.S. team effort as “like a Rolls Royce.”

The U.S. team finish on 138.6 –the combined dressage score that survived through the cross-country and jumping phasea.

“I would like to give a really special congratulations to my team,” said Chef d’Equipe Mark Phillips. “Five people finishing on their dressage score–that’s never been done before in the history of our sport.”

Jessica had five U.S. combinations breathing down her neck after dressage.

After the first round to determine team medals, 19 pairs came back for a second round to determine individual awards. The rules allow a maximum of three from a single nation so the standings at the top were three U.S. riders and one Caadian.

Buck Davidson and Hannah Burnett jumped clear but Michael Pollard, the highest placed American to that point, had two rails down thus opening the door for Buck to get a medal.

Jessica and Pavarotti were foot perfect to clinch gold.

Buck Davidson, whose father, Bruce, won individual gold at the 1995 Pan Ams, said: “For me and this whole team, our goal was to win team gold. There was more pressure and more joy in winning the team gold. We are such a close team, I feel bad for Michael–I almost feel guilty sitting here. You want to come as a team, win as a team and leave as a team–and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Pan American Games individual medalists Buck Davidson of USA, bronze, Jessica Phoenix of Canada, gold and Hannah Burnett of USA silver. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com