USA Olympic Team Qualifying Requirements Amended to Extend Time to Make Short List that May Increase to 12 from Eight if Europe Tour Out

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Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper are currently atop the U.S. Olympic Rankings. Steffen is seeking to go to his fifth Olympics. File photo. © 2020 Ken Braddick/

Jan. 22, 2021

Riders seeking a place on the American Olympic team short list will have another three weeks to April 26 to qualify, under changes published Friday by the U.S. Equestrian Federation to cope with coronavirus-triggered cancellation of events. The short list may be expanded to 12 rider/horse combinations if there are no European competitions instead of up to eight currently planned.

Extension of the qualifying period for the short list means the addition of CDI3* competitions at Sacramento, California April 8-11; the newly opened World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Florida April 15-18 and at Tryon, host of the 2018 World Equestrian Games, April 22-25.

The previous criteria had a deadline of April 4 that took short list qualifying through the winter-long Global Dressage Festival of seven CDIs at Wellington, Florida and events at Temecula and Burbank in California that have since been canceled.

Most riders and horses from across the country seeking qualification for the short list are already in Wellington.

The amended requirements were implemented for selection of a team of three combinations and a traveling reserve for the Olympics scheduled for Tokyo at the end of July.

The continuing Covid-19 pandemic has severely disrupted show schedules throughout the world that led to cancellation of the World Cup Final in Las Vegas last April and postponement of the Olympics for a year as well as an earlier than usual World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany that was to have been the final selection event for the U.S.

Uncertainty over European competitions and a return to July for Aachen that would be too late for the Americans has muddied the selection schedule. Plus, restrictions have severely disrupted the ability of some top ranked European judges to travel to the U.S.

The selection procedures include:

* Rider/horse combinations named to the short list will likely be required to compete in observation events, which may include at least one for all short listed pairs;

* The observation events may take place in Europe and may include CDI and/or CDN competitions, and

* If no European competitions are feasible up to 12 athletes may be named to a short list.

The amended requirements, the federation said, “will allow for a greater opportunity for athlete/horse combinations to earn the minimum scores required for selection to the Short List.

“This extension will also still permit the possibility of sending a Short List to compete in Observation Events in Europe, which remains the primary plan for the final selection and preparation of a team for the Games.

“It is fully recognized that travel restrictions and logistics related to European travel may require an adjustment to this plan and instead the Observation Events may need to occur within the United States. USEF will be working closely with organizers to ensure there are suitable selection and preparation events should this be required.”