WEG Rolling Reporter’s Notebook: Live Updates from the Field

EN is all-hands-on-deck and reporting live from the 2018 Tryon World Equestrian Games! Check back here often for thoughts, observations, updates and other assorted WEG detritus. 

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MONDAY, SEPT. 17

Tuesday WEG spectator parking has been moved. Spectator parking for the WEG is now located next to our Sandy Plains Volunteer Headquarters for Monday and Tuesday. Follow Department of Transportation signs to the parking lot. Parking at the Steeplechase Lot will reconvene on Wednesday, September 19. [Parking moved]

SUNDAY, SEPT. 16

BREAKING: Show jumping will take place tomorrow at 10 a.m. EST in the U.S. Trust Arena. — Jenni Autry

We can confirm Leslie T is alive and well and did NOT get run over for the sake of getting ‘the shot,’ but it was a close call, indeed! Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

BREAKING: The final horse inspection for eventing at WEG has now moved to 2 p.m. in Ring 2. Click here for the starting order. No horses have been withdrawn prior to the horse inspection at this time. There is flooding spread throughout the venue. A time has not yet been confirmed for when show jumping will take place on Monday. — Jenni Autry

SATURDAY, SEPT. 15

The final horse inspection has been confirmed for 3 p.m. EST Sunday. Location TBD. This is subject to change so keep checking back for updates — Jenni Autry

Bernard Fonck and What A Wave make history by claiming the gold medal for Belgium. Photo by FEI/Liz Gregg.

Belgium’s Bernard Fonck made WEG history by taking individual gold in the reining — the first European to do so in the sport’s WEG history. Aboard What a Wave, Fonck rode a huge pattern to mark a 227, a score that held through USA’s Daniel Huss and Ms Dreamy (226.5), as well as Cade McCutcheon and Custom Made Gun (225). McCutcheon’s score, riding in his first WEG at the age of 18, tied with Brazil’s João Felipe Andrade and Gunner Dun It Again; McCutcheon took bronze in a run-off. Fonck’s victory symbolizes the incredible growth of reining on the international equestrian scene in the past decade, and Europe’s ability to hold its own against the discipline’s home nation. [Fabulous Fonck Shocks Americans] — Kristen Kovatch

There is still no confirmed time for the final horse inspection, as of 9:30 p.m. EST. The very second we get this information, we’ll pass it along to you. Jim Wolf, WEG Director for Eventing, did confirm to EN that the jog would be held tomorrow saying: “We have no intention of cancelling the competition. It’s likely that we’ll have to jump on Monday, have the horse inspection tomorrow, but we’re going to finish this thing.” I would like to add that this has not been confirmed officially by the FEI. Check back here! — Shelby Allen

Here comes the storm. Heaviest rainfall is set to hit the Tryon International Equestrian Center at 8 p.m., and the media center is being shut down early. Because of this, reports may come out a bit later than we would like, but we are working like mad to bring you all the latest from WEG cross country day as soon as we possibly can. In the meantime, catch up on the live updates at this link. Thanks for your patience, loyal readers! — Shelby Allen

The Dressage Freestyle has been cancelled. Following yesterday’s announcement that the dressage freestyle would run Monday morning due expected inclement weather, officials announced today: “The logistics of putting all necessary elements into place in time have proved insurmountable. As a result, and very regrettably, the Dressage Freestyle will now be cancelled.”

“We know this is desperately disappointing for the 15 athletes who had qualified their horses for the Freestyle, and of course for all the spectators who had bought tickets, but the weather has simply left us with no choice. Horse welfare has to be the top priority and flying the horses out on the same day as competition doesn’t work, so sadly the decision to cancel the Freestyle had to be taken.” [Helgstrand Dressage Freestyle cancelled]

Meanwhile, in the post-cross country press conference, WEG Director of Eventing Jim Wolf clarified that while endurance and dressage have both suffered from competition abandonments, this eventing show WILL go on: “We have no intention of cancelling the competition. It’s likely that we’ll have to jump on Monday, have the horse inspection tomorrow, but we’re going to finish this thing.” — Leslie Wylie

Weather incoming! There’s a little bit of a menacing “storm’s a comin” feeling in the air on the dawn of cross country day. As of 9:30 a.m. the National Weather Service’s forecast for Mill Spring was as follows: “Showers, mainly after 1 p.m. The rain could be heavy at times. High near 78. North northeast wind around 18 mph, with gusts as high as 26 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts between a half and three quarters of an inch possible.”

Our amateur meteorological analysis is that it looks like the slow-moving, rotating storm is going to creep up on us and it’s going to start raining between noon and 1 p.m. but we’re going to be mostly on the edge of it during cross country. Pack your rain gear and keep your fingers crossed.

A number of changes have been made on account of the impending inclement weather. Cross country will run today as planned, starting at 11 a.m. EST with horses running at 3-minute intervals and fences 23A and 24B removed from the course. Eventing’s show jumping phase has been postponed until Monday, as has Sunday’s Dressage Freestyle. Read our “Final Thoughts Before WEG Cross Country” here. — Leslie Wylie

Radar at 9:30 a.m. via Weather.com.

FRIDAY, SEPT. 14

Friday End-of-Day WEG status: 

— EN Staff

Isabell Werth of Germany was again unstoppable in the Grand Prix Special, taking home another gold medal. She earned her first individual medal since 2006 at a world championship aboard her once-retired Bella Rose 2. But USA’s Laura Graves and Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin put the pressure on: Graves and Verdades danced for the home crowd in their second WEG, and Dujardin and Mount St. John Freestyle floored everyone in the duo’s first world championship and fewer than ten Grands Prix to the mare’s name. [Werth Makes Good On A Promise With WEG Grand Prix Special Win] — Kristen Kovatch

Charlotte Dujardin GBR on Mount St John Freestyle. Photo FEI / Liz Gregg.

The endurance fiasco has taken a turn for the tragic. In a press conference this afternoon, the FEI confirmed that an endurance horse was euthanized following Wednesday’s race. The identity of the horse, who was euthanized off-site at Tryon Equine Hospital, was not disclosed but will be released later in a statement. Over 50 horses received veterinary treatment during or after the abandoned race for heat-related metabolic issues.

FEI President Ingmar de Vos, FEI Veterinary Director Göran Akerström, and President of the Endurance Veterinary Commission Thomas Timmons emphasized in the press conference that equine welfare was the reason for the race’s abandonment, while the circumstances surrounding the misdirection of riders which solicited a restart are still being investigated. They took a few reporter questions but many hands were still raised when the nearly 25-minute press conference was ended. Update: See full story here. — Leslie Wylie 

A.m. parking update: Spectators this morning are saying that time from parking to entrance really isn’t bad. The lines are long, but they’re keeping plenty of buses in the rotation. We hear that the tricky part is just parking — no one is directing anyone is the spectator lots, so it’s a bit of a chaotic free-for-all. Apparently someone in a minivan hit one of the shuttle buses yesterday: party foul! More details on the parking situation on the website here. — Shelby Allen

An access road under construction in the galloping  lane at the end of the WEG cross country on Friday morning. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Pardon the dust. A construction crew is currently hard at work building an access road across the galloping lane at the end of the WEG course. You can see fence 25 in the distance of the photo above. They assured us the road will be complete and covered in footing well ahead of tomorrow’s cross country. All jumps aside from the final fence have now been placed on course. Check out EN’s updated course preview here. — Jenni Autry

Leslie Threlkeld is suited up for battle. Photo by EN’s personal pharmacist/dermatologist/human winky face emoji Kate Lokey of the USEA.

Feeling hot, hot, hot. We’re braced for another blisteringly hot, humid day here at WEG, with a high near 90 and sauna-esque humidity. That equals a heat index you can’t take lightly. So, to reiterate lessons learned in LT’s cautionary tale below, do all the smart hot weather things: chug water, dress appropriately, wear sunscreen, and take breaks in the shade. Considered yourself mommed!

Temps are supposed to cool down a bit but get wetter for the weekend — see the latest National Weather Center forecast here. Hurricane Florence, now downgraded to a category 1, made landfall this morning some 300 miles west and slightly south of TIEC. As it disperses over land, Florence will make its way along the North Carolina/South Carolina border for the next couple days then move generally northward across the western Carolinas so … straight at us, basically. The sun is out in full force now, folks, but rain is on its way.

Saturday’s cross country start time is currently scheduled for 11 a.m. We will let you know if officials make any changes to schedule or course on account of the weather. — Leslie Wylie

THURSDAY, SEPT. 13

#OverheardAtWEG — There is currently only one tweet on Twitter that has ever used this hashtag, dating all the way back to 2010 when America last hosted the WEG in good ol’ Kentucky. Please join me in saluting the American hero who tweeted this gem: “I need to take this photo — hold my bourbon.” #OverheardAtWEG

We’re getting this hashtag started with a few things we’ve heard so far at Tryon this week.

  • “DADDY!!!” — screamed by a female fan as Boyd Martin exited the dressage arena
  • “Today was a better day. No sports got cancelled.” — wife calling home to her husband
  • “Is it too early to start drinking?” — heard this multiple times already and it’s only the first day of dressage

We trust that you — the great people of Eventing Nation — will not let us down in carrying this forward. Go forth and tell us what you #OverheardAtWEG. — Jenni Autry

This is a cautionary tale. As repeatedly reported, it’s hot here in Tryon. They’ve already cancelled entire sports due to the heat and humidity, and we’re really concerned about the effects of the weather come Saturday cross country. Well, after a blistering first horse inspection Wednesday, I woke up this morning thinking I was smart to wear a dress and stay cool while photographing an entire day of dressage in the sun. I was still not prepared.

After a warm but bearable morning, I walked in the media center with two dressage groups left to go later in the afternoon, and I thought the EN girls might strap me to my chair and take my camera away. I was too hot and not hydrated. I escaped back out to the ring with a lifesaving packet of electrolytes Shelby forced upon me, but it was nevertheless an uncomfortable afternoon.

What I’m trying to say is, please be careful. Do as I say, not as I do, folks. Don’t try to play tough. Drink more water than you think you need, wear a hat and breathable clothing, apply sunscreen, seek shade. Feeling groggy? Find some air conditioning. Feeling dizzy? Find the medics. The heat index here is no joke. Stay safe, sports fans. — Leslie Threlkeld

 

Laura Graves and Verdades for Team USA.
Photo FEI/Liz Gregg.

Germany, long known as an international dressage powerhouse, clinched team gold today with USA taking silver and Great Britain earning bronze. Germany’s Isabell Werth surprised many with her selected mount Bella Rose, coming out of four years of retirement, and still managed to score not only a personal best of 84.7% with that mare but comfortably take over the lead. USA’s Laura Graves and Verdades put the pressure on but could not overtake Werth; the pair’s performance cemented USA’s silver medal position. For thorough coverage, we’ve included three links here with three perspectives:

–Kristen Kovatch

Endurance dramz continue. The Spanish Equestrian Federation has lodged an appeal against the FEI’s decision to abandon yesterday’s endurance competition. Had medals been awarded at the time of abandonment (no official timestamp has been disclosed), Spain would have won team gold.

In its appeal, Real Federación Hípica Española noted that more than 80% of the distance had been completed by the race leaders at the time of cancellation. They also pointed out that while there is no legal precedent for the situation, but in previous competitions cancelled for reasons other than the weather medals were awarded according to placement at the moment of suspension (they cited the 2012 FEI World Endurance Championships as an example). “All of them are the reasons why we ask the FEI to reconsider its decision of not awarding medals to this championship,” the appeal concludes.

Leslie Wylie

Pro tip for spectators: bring a few toiletries for an overall more comfortable experience. I haven’t struggled too much with availability of toilets, but none of the porta potties seem equipped with hand sanitizer, and there aren’t any hand washing stations. A few are beginning to run out of toilet paper as well, so pack accordingly and make your life a little nicer this week. — Shelby Allen

Here’s a live stream hack for all you watching dressage at home! We’re getting some great commentary on the FEI TV live stream, but unlike the Burghley live stream for example, the stream does not show any marks for the movements as they come in from the judges. However, you can get a nearly real-time look at the marks from the live scores page.

First off, you’ll notice that when a test is going on, the rider is listed on the leaderboard in the place that they’re currently trending. If you click on the number in the points column, it will bring up a new window with a copy of the test and marks from each judge. This window updates automatically and tends to be a smidge ahead of the livestream. Not quite as awesome as having the scores right there on the screen while you’re watching the test, but it’s pretty darn good! — Abby Powell

Voila! Real-time scores!

Parking lot/shuttle update: In yesterday’s Spectator Guide we noted that the parking/shuttle situation was an issue. Early birds saw a much-improved situation this a.m. (although we still heard concerns that the ground would deteriorate with continued rain); later on, however, it seemed to get much worse, with seriously long lines for the shuttle at Lot F. We’ll keep you posted as we hear more, but for now we strongly recommend leaving yourself ample time for the trip. — Leslie Wylie

FEI TV giving you grief? We’ve gotten comments from several readers that they can’t access the live stream. Please note that even if you have an annual FEI TV subscription, you still have to purchase the $26.99 WEG pass. Lame, we know. UPDATE: Looks like FEI TV subscribers can now watch WEG for free — just go to “Subscriptions” and add WEG.  [How to Watch the 2018 World Equestrian Games on TV + Online] — Leslie Wylie

Weather update (8:30 a.m.): Now a category 2 hurricane, Florence is expected to make landfall on Friday then begin a slow, soggy parade over the Carolinas as it disperses over land. At last update from the National Weather Service’s WEG station, “The projected weather pattern here at TIEC will be heavy rain on Sunday evening into Monday and possibly Tuesday, with winds peaking on Sunday evening at 30mph with gusts of up to 40mph.” They note that the thunderstorms we’ve been experiencing are unrelated to Florence. Currently there is no change to the arranged flights for competing horses.

Geography reminder: Tryon is about as far inland as you can get and still be in the Carolinas, some 350-400 miles (560-640 kilometers) west of the mandatory evacuation zones along the coast. So while we’re definitely going to get wet and we’ll likely get buffeted by some storms, we’re not about to get swept out to sea. In the event of severe weather, TIEC addressed the venue’s “robust” contingency plan on Tuesday — read our report from that here.

View WEG weather updates here; text “WEG2018” to 888777 (U.S. phones only) to receive immediate notifications about weather and updates on schedules and programming. — Leslie Wylie

Tryon is north of Greenville (shown on this map) near the North/South Carolina border. Image via Weather.com.

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 12

Controversy ruled the day in endurance, which was ultimately canceled. Numerous factors came together tragically to spell total disaster for endurance: a hot, humid day, the still-not-quite-finished state of the endurance course itself and a large part of the field getting misdirected off-course in the first loop of the race this morning. The FEI made the decision to run as a shortened 120 km track, throwing out the first loop entirely, but by 6 p.m. announced that due to high heat and humidity, the endurance event was canceled and would not be rescheduled. With the leaders just a few kilometers from the finish, the announcement was met with a near-riot and police were called in to restore order. [FEI Cancels WEG Endurance Mid-Race] — Kristen Kovatch

We’re heartbroken for eventer-turned-endurance rider Hilda Donahue, who was representing Ireland before the race got called. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Germany takes the expected lead in team dressage, but plenty of combinations have yet to show tomorrow. Germany is arguably the world powerhouse in dressage, but there’s plenty of competition. Sweden holds strong in the silver medal position and Team USA is currently in third. Team medals will be awarded after tomorrow’s competition. [Germany Remains On Top After Grand Prix Day 1 at WEG, U.S. in Third] — Kristen Kovatch

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera of Germany lead the individual dressage rankings on a score of 76.677%. Photo by Sportfot.

Team USA defends reining gold! Belgium took silver and Germany took bronze, but it was Team USA leading the way with 18-year-old Cade McCutcheon at the top of the pack with an incredible score of 229. While today crowned the team championship, it also served as the first individual qualifier; tomorrow’s consolation round will allow a few more individuals to the finals on Saturday night. Click here to watch the winning rides.

In the past four years, FEI Reining has demonstrated remarkable growth, with more countries furnishing teams as well as individuals for WEG competition. As the only western discipline at the World Equestrian Games, this all-American sport has taken off all over the world in the 16 years since it was first included. [McCutcheon Steals The Show As United States Retain Reining Team Title] — Kristen Kovatch

Cade McCutcheon and Custom Made Gun of Team USA. Photo by Sportfot.

Go Eventing.

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