Articles: Press Release
U.S. Finishes Sixth in Team Jumping
SYDNEY---After being in contention for the team bronze medal in the first
round of the Olympic team show jumping competition, U.S. riders faded during
the second round, which ended in a sixth-place finish for America.
But three of four U.S. Equestrian Team competitors still managed to qualify
for Sunday's individual medal competition. Laura Kraut stands tied for 18th
with Liberty, while Margie Goldstein Engle is 25th with Hidden Creek's Perin
and Lauren Hough, at 23 the youngest member of the squad, stands 32d with
Placings are used only for qualification in the top 45, so everyone starts
with a clean slate on the final morning of the Olympics. Only three riders
from each country are allowed to participate.
Fourteen nations took part today in the Nations' Cup over a course that
included 16 jumping efforts. Following the first round, the USET had 12
faults to tie it with Brazil for fourth place. Just one rail away, Germany,
France and Switzerland each had 8 faults to tie for first, making it an
incredibly close and exciting race for the medals.
But Germany pulled away in the second round with its very experienced squad
that included Aachen Grand Prix winner Carl Becker with Cento. That nation
wound up with a total of 15 penalties, while its closest rival, Switzerland,
As the afternoon went on, France, Brazil and the U.S., were locked in the
battle for the bronze, which seesawed back and forth. Unlike its rivals, the
USET was fielding three horses with little or no international experience,
and that hampered the squad's effort.
Kraut, the lead-off rider who had only one knockdown in the first round,
dropped two rails in the second. Her mare was not her usually fiery self,
and Kraut believed she was tired.
"We kind of ran out of gas," she said. "But she's only 9 years old and has
never done anything like this, two big rounds in one day."
Hough, next to go, had 8 penalties in the second round, as she did in the
first. She had never ridden in a Nations' Cup before, and had the least
mileage of anyone on the team.
Of Clasiko's second performance, she said, "for sure he was a lot more tired
this round, but I was fighting with everything I had. I was fighting to
produce a clear round, and it didn't happen."
The most experienced U.S. combination was Nona Garson and Rhythmical, who
had been in the 1998 World Equestrian Games. But the chestnut gelding fell
when he was unable to handle the problematical footing in Monday's
qualifier, and he was not in his usual form for the Nations' Cup. He had the
drop score in both rounds.
Engle had managed a perfect performance in the first round, but was unable
to repeat it in the second, when she had two rails down. She thought she
perhaps should have ridden stronger down the most technical line of the
course, which involved a water jump five or six strides before a triple
combination that tripped up many participants.
Of the team, she said, "I think everyone was trying to at least get a
bronze. In the morning, we were one rail from the top, and anything could
have happened. The horses just didn't go as well in the second round."
The U.S. ended on 36 penalties to slide behind the Netherlands, which had
32. Brazil and France were tied on 24 penalties and jumped-off for the
bronze, which went back to the South American squad that took it in Atlanta
four years ago.