USA Coach Selection Panel to Meet Next Week to Rank Candidates

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Anne Gribbons. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Anne Gribbons. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Appointment of a new USA Technical Advisor/Chef d’Equipe moves a step closer next week when the U.S. Equestrian Federation selection panel meets to rank candidates by their ability to lead the United States dressage team at the 2014 World Equestrian Games and the 2016 Olympic Games.

Candidates from the U.S. and Europe applied for the post that became vacant when Anne Gribbons, an International Equestrian Federation (FEI) 5* judge longtime trainer and competitor, resigned after last summer’s Olympics in London and three years in the job.

The USEF has made no public statements about the selection procedures or applicants since applications for the position closed March 15.

A search committee led by Eric Straus, a respected businessmam with vast exerience in high performance equestrian sports, was appointed to vet applicants.

The job description posted by the USEF seeks one person for the combined position of coach and chef d’equipe. According to the job description that person should be resident in the United States.

In addition to the resignation of Anne Gribbons, Eva Salomon resigned shortly after as chef d’equipe and USEF managing director of dressage.

According to sources within the USEF who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, the selection committee will meet on or about April 1 to weigh the merits of the candidates.

The committee includes Janet Foy, chairperson of the High Performance Dressage Committee; Catherine Haddad-Staller and Susan Dutta, members of the committeee; Anne Kursinski a veteran Olympic jumper rider and David O’Connor, former president of the USEF and Olympic gold medalist in eventing.

The selection committee, the sources said, will rank the candidates and send their recommendations to the Eligible Athletes Committee, headed up by George Williams.

The USEF’s High Performance Dressage Committee is essentially in charge of procedures for selecting the new coach. Since the selection criteria was established, the committee has undergone a complete makeover with a new chair person, Janet Foy, a FEI4* judge, CDI show organizer and widely respected in dressage.

The job description drawn up by the previous high performance committee and adopted by the new panel, limited the authority of the new coach.

However, a clause that gives the committee the power to change the terms has provided applicants with hope that the successful candidate will be able implement their program and not be restricted to being a manager of riders while leaving the coaching to their personal trainers.

Some of the procedures for choosing the person to fill the coaching post this year were basically the same applied in selecting new Technical Advisors/coaches for Eventing and Jumping.

Eric Straus led the search committees for eventing and jumping after the 2009 dressage selection was clouded in controversy. He was appointed chairman of the dressage search committee, an assignment seen as assurance that the process for dressage would be as transparent as the other two Olympic disciplines.

However, open forums arranged for applicants for the eventing and jumping positions to pesent their programs and undergo questioning were not organized for candidates for the dressage job.