Articles: Press Release
USET Makes History at 2002 World Equestrian Games -- A Record 8 Medals Brought Home
Marty Bauman, (508) 698-6810,
Jerez de la Frontera, Spain–September 24, 2002–The United States Equestrian
Team (USET) made history at the 2002 World Equestrian Games in Jerez de la
Frontera, Spain, September 11-22. U.S. riders, drivers and vaulters won a
total of eight medals, doubling the U.S.’s best previous performance.
The final tally for the U.S. was three Gold, three Silver and two Bronze
medals, by far the best U.S. performance at any World Equestrian Games.
U.S. teams won World Championship medals in six of the seven disciplines,
doing better than any country, including France, who won seven medals in
four disciplines, and Germany, who did win nine medals, but in only three
“This is a proud moment for all Americans,” said USET President Armand
Leone, Jr. “Not only does this record-setting performance speak volumes
about the ability, dedication and hard work of our athletes and their
support staff, but it is also a tribute to the many thousands of Americans
whose contributions to the USET helped provide the resources needed to put
our athletes in a position to get the job done.”
With a combined score of 657.5 points, the U.S. reining team of Shawn
Flarida of Springfield, OH riding San Jo Freckles, owned by Michael Harper;
brothers Tom McCutcheon of Pilot Point, TX riding Conquistador Whiz, owned
by George Shifrin, and Scott McCutcheon of Whiteboro, TX riding Inwhizable,
owned by Inwhizable partners; and Craig Schmersal of Menifee, CA, who rode
Tidal Wave Jack, owned by B.S. Syndicate, won the first-ever reining World
Championship and became the first reining World Champions in history.
Individually, Flarida emerged as the first-ever individual World Reining
Champion with a score of 221.5 points. Tom McCutcheon won the Silver Medal
after winning a run-off with Shawna Sapergia of Canada.
With pride and gratitude for the Gold Medal he wore around his neck, Craig
Schmersal offered words of praise for the USET. “The support they gave was
incredible,” he said. “They made the experience more than I could have ever
expected. I never thought I’d be treated so well at a competition.”
Tom McCutcheon echoed Schmersal’s sentiment. “I can’t thank the USET enough
for what they did for us. This was a great occasion for the sport of
Also emerging as World Champions were the members of the U.S. eventing squad
who made their trip to the World Equestrian Games worthy of worldwide
attention by winning the team Gold Medal. The members of the U.S. Gold
Medal eventing team were David O'Connor of The Plains, VA riding Giltedge,
owned by Jacqueline Mars, Christa Badger and Jonathan Ireland; Kim
Vinoski-Severson of Scottsville, VA riding Winsome Adante owned by Linda
Wachtmeister and Plain Dealing Farm; Amy Tryon of Redmond, WA on her Poggio
II; and John Williams of Middleburg, VA, riding his horse Carrick.
After the dressage phase of competition, the U.S. stood in second place with
a score of 111.80 penalties. However, the U.S. was second to the favored
team from Great Britain for only one night. After the second phase of
competition, the cross country, the U.S. had the top spot with a two-phase
score of 147.40.
The Gold Medal came down to the final phase, the show jumping, where Sydney
Olympic Gold Medalist and WEG Team Captain David O'Connor had the team’s
only clear round. O’Connor was one of only eight out of the 47 who competed
who went clear. He ended up with a score of 64.60 penalties which put him in
Tryon showed true team spirit by participating in the final phase after a
fall on cross-country that left her a bit sore. However, she did not show
her pain, having only one rail down and giving the team a good head start as
the first U.S. rider for the day. Vinoski-Severson knocked three rails
down, but still finished a strong sixth overall with a score of 57.80. More
importantly, she kept the U.S. team in the game.
Williams and Carrick entered the ring with more pressure than anyone should
have at their first World Championship. As the leader, Williams performed
last. The pair had two rails in hand, but the course of sixteen efforts was
not easy. While Williams did have four rails for sixteen faults which
dropped him out of the medals, he still finished an impressive fourth with a
score of 53.00, and more importantly helped to give the United States the
“I was thrilled,” Williams said. “We all came here thinking about team
medals, not individual, and I am delighted to be part of the World
The U.S. dressage squad captured the team Silver Medal with a combined score
of 5527 points. Germany won the team Gold with a score of 5642 and Spain
took the Bronze with 5403. The finish marked the best finish ever for a
United States dressage team in any World Championship or Olympic Games.
The U.S. squad consisted of Debbie McDonald of Hailey, ID on Brentina, owned
by Perry & Peggy Thomas; Lisa Wilcox of Thousand Oaks, CA riding Relevant,
owned by Gundula Vorwerk and Dr. Claus Crone-Munzebrock; Susan Blinks of
Wellington, FL, riding Flim Flam, owned by Fritz Kundrun and Dressage
Sponsor Corporation and Guenter Seidel of Del Mar, CA on Nikolaus 7, owned
by Dick and Jane Brown.
Individually, the U.S. dressage riders also turned in this country’s best
performance in history. McDonald and Brentina finished fourth by the
slimmest of margins with a score of 233.460 (82.700). Wilcox, riding
Relevant, was right behind in fifth place with a score of 232.530 (82.650).
Never before has the U.S. placed two riders in the top five in a dressage
McDonald felt that she and her teammates, in all disciplines, were able to
perform so well because of the back-up and support provided by the USET.
“The USET was fabulous,” she said. “Jim Wolf, Jessica Ransehousen, Marilyn
Adams – all of them were running like crazy doing everything for us. They
were there for us every single minute. Never once did we have to go looking
for them. They took care of all the details so we could focus on our goals,
and they were key in our being able to come home with a medal. Quite
simply, we couldn’t have done it without the USET.”
The United States Four-In-Hand team of Jimmy Fairclough of Newton, NJ
driving a team owned by Fairclough and Jane Forbes Clark; Chester Weber of
Ocala, FL, driving his team; and Tucker Johnson of Hobe Sound, FL driving a
team he co-owns with Mr. and Mrs. James Johnson, also made history in Spain
when they won the team Silver Medal. Prior to the 2002 World Equestrian
Games, the best finish the U.S. had ever had at a Four-In-Hand World
Championship was fourth place in 1984 and 1986.
At the conclusion of the opening dressage phase, the United States was in
first place with 78.72 penalties. After the marathon, the United States
drivers were in second place with a two-phase score of 286.52 penalties.
All three drivers on the U.S. team went clear in the concluding cones phase
to finish with a three-phase score of 286.52 penalties to give the U.S. its
first-ever Four-In-Hand medal. In close contention for an individual
medal, Tucker Johnson finished fourth individually and Weber was just behind
Johnson, whose top finish by a U.S. driver earned him a record sixth USET
Four-In-Hand Championship, credited the USET for the driving team’s best
performance ever in a Four-In-Hand World Championship. “The USET made a
huge effort to support us and that made a big difference,” he said.
Fairclough also acknowledged the USET’s role in the drivers’ medal-winning
performance. “We owe a big thanks to the USET for letting us train at
Gladstone prior to coming over here. That made a big difference in how well
prepared we were at this event.”
While the show jumping squad of Leslie Howard of Westport, CT riding
Priobert De Kalvarie owned by Higher Ground Farm; Nicole Shahinian-Simpson
of Westlake Village, CA riding El Campeon’s Cirka Z owned by El Campeon
Farm; Peter Wylde of Medfield, MA, riding Fein Cera owned by the Fein Cera
group; and Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, NY, riding Judgement owned by Iron
Spring Farm, just missed a team medal, Wylde did win the individual Bronze,
the first individual World Championship medal by a U.S. show jumper since
Michael Matz won the Bronze in 1978.
Wylde was the first U.S. show jumping rider to qualify for the Final Four
since Greg Best and Gem Twist qualified in 1990 at the first World
Equestrian Games held in Stockholm, Sweden. Qualifying to ride in the Final
Four meant that Wylde had to jump the final course not only on his own
horse, but also on each of the other three competitors’ horses as well.
Wylde’s horse, Fein Cera, the only horse with no knockdowns with any rider
in the final phase, was named the “Best Horse” of the Championship.
In the team show jumping, the U.S. finished sixth after an
exciting Nations Cup which saw the U.S. still in medal contention when its
final rider entered the ring. Had two-time Olympic medalist Leslie Howard
gone clean, the U.S. would have won the team Bronze. Although Howard’s two
rails dropped the team to sixth, the long-time USET veteran felt the team’s
showing in Jerez was a good one.
“I think all our riders rode well,” she said, “and we showed that we’re
right there with the world’s best. Peter’s medal meant a lot to all of us
and we conducted ourselves as a true team in every way.
“We really owe a big thank you to Sally Ike and the USET who were there for
us every step of the way. They provided great support for the athletes in
all the disciplines.”
For the first time the USET had responsibility for vaulting and sent a team
to the 2002 World Equestrian Games. Devon Maitozo of Acton, CA, won the
individual Bronze Medal in the men’s division with a score of 8.612. The
best U.S. finisher in the women’s division was Pamela Geisler of Diamond
Bar, CA who finished in eighth position with a score of 8.209. In the team
competition, the U.S. vaulting squad, F.A.C.E. of Moorpark, CA, finished in
“I have never worked with an organization like the USET who was there to
help – and really did help – the competitors,” said vaulter Eric
Martonovich of Golden, CO. “It was wonderful! We couldn’t have done it
without them. They were all just so helpful. I have never felt more
supported in anything I’ve tried to do.”
In endurance, the U.S. squad finished in fifth place overall. The three
U.S. riders that completed the race were Beverly Gray of Park City, UT, who
placed 19th on her Regalidon in a ride time of 11:05:20; Cia Reis of
Pennsdale, PA, who was 31st riding Catch A Wave, owned by Alex and Cia Reis,
in 11:43:05; and Stephen Rojek of Woodstock, VT who finished 32nd on his
Finally in a ride time of 11:43:06.
Overall, the 2002 World Equestrian Games showed that when it comes to
equestrian sports, the United States is second to none. The U.S. was the
only country to medal in six of the seven disciplines. In the team
championships, the U.S. placed first in two, second in two, fifth in two and
sixth in one. In the individual championships, the U.S. had an individual
finish fourth or better in six of the seven disciplines including one first
place, one second, two thirds, four fourths and two fifths.
As USET Chef de Mission Jim Wolf said, “Everyone came here believing in
themselves. They felt they could do well and they did!”
The United States Equestrian Team is a non-profit organization that selects,
trains, equips and finances equestrians of the highest possible standard to
represent our country in major international competition, including the
Olympic Games and the World Championships. To accomplish this the USET seeks
out and nurtures the development of talented athletes - riders, drivers and
horses - and provides the support and guidance they need to help them attain
their fullest potential. For more information on the USET, please call
(908) 234-1251, or visit USET ONLINE at www.uset.org.