Qualifying and Finals
The first round started with 45 and narrowed down to to the top 20 and ties.
There were 10 clear rounds and a bunch of ties.
Some excellent jumping over a course that was increased in size for the finals.
Irelands O'Conner, the twenty-something that was appearing in his first
Olympics, however had competed in more than 30 Nations Cups events, won the gold on his Holsteiner, Waterford Crystal.
Somewhat of a surprise winner.
R. Pessoa, "the disappointment" in 2000 (he had been cleaning up Internationally
for a year and a half for Brazil and then his horse refused out in the Olympics) redeemed himself by making the finals, and
then winning the silver--losing the gold (or actually a jump-off) only by time penalties.
Unfortunately, the jump-off he won was due to the bronze horse going
lame in the middle of the course--see Chris Kappler below.
Nick Shelton of GB was a sentimental favorite, since he broke his neck in an
accident in 2000. After doctors said he should not ever ride again, all traces of the break disappeared and he was back
in the saddle for his country this year. He made the finals. As he said, he "sees life a little differently"now--however
evidently still has that competitive edge and ability. Finished twelfth.
Chris Kappler, who was allowed to skip the trials (US) for the Olympics
based on his past two years performance, and Pessoa had to have a jump-off for silver and bronze.
Pessoa had 4 faults with a rail down. Kappler was on course in the jump-off,
towards the end of the course, and his horse seemed to trip or hit himself on a landing--anyway, he pulled up lame, and so
Kappler had to settle for the bronze. Still the first medal since 1992 for the US. Last word was that the horse
walked into the vet trailer just fine.
"Biggest disappointment" of the show had to be the only rider that had 3 clear rounds
going into the Individual Prelims--Beezie Patton of the US on Authentic--a huge favorite after "doing her part" in
the team to win Silver, not even making the finals cut. She had 3 rails down for 12 penalties, and the cut-off was 10
or 11. She did not look pleased as she emerged from the ring, as she clearly knew she and her horse had had a below
average performance. Her DW is only 9, and so they should be back.
Ian Miller, "the oldest competitor at the Olympics at age 57" (okay, okay--we know
it sells, however....) In all fairness, the commentators noted Miller's classic and smooth style of riding, and were
extremely complimentary of his skills, and the name Big Ben continues to be mentioned as one of the top horses in the history
of show jumping. Ian Miller finished the finals with his standard quiet and balanced ride.
Biggest surprise--kind of--might have been the Korean team...they had two riders
make the finals.
"Kind of" since this team is coached by the legendary show jumper Schumacher from
Germany...and clearly he is making it clear that his ability as an international coach is as capable as his actual ability
in the ring.
Only the last 6-7 rides of the finals were provided by NBC tv coverage in their
"prime time" coverage (boo, hiss, whistle in Eur). However, overall, we have to give them high marks for the amount
of coverage and commentary provided. One of the benefits of cable TV expansion!