Erik Duvander Unveils 2018 U.S. High Performance Plan

Erik Duvander unveiled his 2018 High Performance plan today at the USEA Convention. Photo by Jenni Autry.

New U.S. Eventing Performance Director Erik Duvander unveiled his 2018 plan for the USEF High Performance program today at the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention in Long Beach, California.

“My personal view is we all need to make the program the best program in the world and a program other countries admire and riders have a desire to be a part of,” Erik said.

Read on for a full summary of his presentation.

Core Concepts

1. Identify, select and support U.S. combinations with ability and superior desire and commitment to develop the skills to win at championships and CCI4* events.

2. The belief that raising the top of the sport drives the entire athlete pool toward better performance. Success drives success.

3. Develop well structured and individual performance plans that are living documents to ensure continued development and achieve personal bests. These plans need to be realistic and owned by the athletes but supported by the USEF team. Coaching and support from the Performance Director will be provided as requested to supplement existing programs.

The expectation is that each training listed rider will have their own sustainable coaching and support team of the highest quality that will be in place regardless of their position on or off the training list. The USEF team will work closely with the athlete’s coaches, vets and farriers to provide resources and support as required.

4. These individual perfomance plans will provide clarity, purpose and focus.

5. Prepare individuals for championships and CCI4* competitions and prepare teams via the Nations Cup events. Provide USEF support for Training listed athletes at CCI4* competitions and CCI3* events (wherever possible).

6. Criteria for the training list will be published and reviewed after the World Equestrian Games.

7. Selection will be fair and transparent. There is a subjective aspect to eventing selection and some of the decisions are made based on information that is confidential. Confidentiality and mutual respect between riders, owners and the organization are critically important to ensuring the integrity of the process.

8. All stakeholders (athletes, owners, grooms, support staff, personal coaches, team staff, etc.) play an integral part in the success of this plan. Communication is critical.

9. Cross country education and improvement will remain a priority of the program as identified in 2017 while still maintaining a holistic approach to all aspects of the sport.

10. Athletes must be willing to buy in to the aims of the progam, including facilitating effective communication between the athletes own support staff (trainer, vet, farrier, etc) and the team support staff.

11. Funding is a privilege not a right, and funding will only be provided based on targets of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) with athletes’ buy-in to the program

12. Performance Plan for 2019-2022 will be developed and published in the spring of 2018.

Immediate Goal – 2018 WEG

The qualifying period for the USA runs from Jan. 1, 2017 to June 17, 2018. Luhmühlen is the final selection trial.

Personal coaching plans and preparation will be agreed on with the Performance Director and funded accordingly. The majority of horses targeting WEG selection will be contesting Kentucky CCI4*. Some horses will go to Badminton and Luhmühlen or a CCI3*. Nations Cups at Great Meadow and Aachen will be used to practice competing in a team environment. Bromont is offering a CIC3* August 18-19, which may be utilized in preparation.

A top six finish will qualify the U.S. for the Olympic Games. “While we believe we are capable of achieving more, this goal will drive strategic decisions on the field of play.”

The squad of five, a list of direct reserve horses if applicable, and reserve combinations will be named following the veterinary evaluations after Luhmühlen CCI4*. Training camp details are being finalized.

“A home Games has a home advantage and disadvantage.” The eventing portion of WEG runs Sept. 12-16, 2018.

One-Year Goals: Lima 2019

The Pan American Games will run as a CCI2*. The format has not yet been confirmed as to whether it will run in the Olympic format with three team riders and no drop score or four team riders.

The strategy for the Pan Ams will be based on whether Olympic qualification is achieved at WEG. If qualification is achieved, this could increase the opportunity to send a team of developing horses/riders to gain experience at a championships.

Two-Year Goals: Tokyo 2020

A comprehensive plan will be developed and circulated in the spring of 2018. This will be the third different format in which the Olympics have been run since 2000. Teams will have three riders with no drop score.

The heat and humidity will rival Hong Kong in extreme nature. Eventing is a split venue with a satellite cross country site.

Overseas Funding 2018

Funding will continue to be considered through applications for specific competitions. Priority for funding may be given to athletes in the program if an overseas competition aligns with their goals, targets and individual performance plan.

Spring 2018 funding will be targeted for qualification and preparation of horses for the 2018 World Equestrian Games, ideally including Aachen.

There is potentially a more diverse opportunity for autumn funding. Burghley and Blenheim are inconvenient in 2018 because they fall the week before and the week of eventing at the WEG.

Funding will be given through Land Rover/USEF grants, two Jacqueline B. Mars Developing Rider Grants and two Karen Stives Endowment Emerging Athlete Tour Grants via the USET Foundation.

Training Lists

“The training lists are one of the most complex parts of the program to execute.”

There is a three-tier approach to the training lists:

  1. Elite
  2. Development – split into Elite Potential and Tier 2 Development
  3. Emerging Athletes (Eventing 25 and Eventing 18)

Riders will remain in the program as their results and progress toward meeting targets and KPIs dictate.

Training List Funding in 2018

The focus is to maximize performance, manage horses effectively and build confidence. Plans will be presented and funded in agreement with the Performance Director and as approved by the High Performance Working Group. Training days will be performance-focused.

Performance Analysis

The Performance Director will be highly involved in individual programs to identify strengths and weaknesses and make a plan to capitalize strengths and weaknesses. USEF is exploring working with sports data company EquiRatings to use their High Performance Ratings platform for performance analysis (not selection initially).

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