LIMA, Peru--The young U.S. Jumping Team won the bronze medal in a tight contest on Wednesday, Aug. 7, at the an American Games in Lima.
Led by Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland, the team of Lucy Deslauriers, Alex Granato, Eve Jobs, and Beezie Madden put in solid performances with three members contesting their first championship competition.
The U.S. Jumping Team finished on 23.09 total penalties for the bronze medal. Brazil won the gold on 12.39 penalties and Mexico received the silver medal with 22.97 penalties.
“WE CAME here for a medal, that’s what you always do in a championship, and we went away with a medal,” said Ridland. “We were a little bit disappointed because we were in the fight for the gold until the end, and then the silver slipped away. What I’m most proud of is that all four of the riders were an essential part yesterday, putting us where we were, and today as well. Everybody participated in a group effort, and I’m very proud of that.”
As part of the long-term plans for the U.S. Jumping Team to give more experience to up-and-coming riders in team competition, these Pan American Games showed the strength of the pipeline of riders ready to join championship teams.
“We were in a favorable position coming in, having already qualified for the Olympic Games, but we sent a team that we knew would be competitive for the gold medal, which it was,” said Ridland. “It was important to have them be able to ride side-by-side with Beezie and all her experience and have alternate Richard Spooner as part of the team and be absolutely instrumental all week long. To be able to have three riders that have never been in a championship before come away with a medal, that’s what it’s all about.”
The scores from Wednesday’s two rounds of team competition were added to Tuesday’s opening round scores (with a drop score from each) to determine the team medals.
The pathfinder for the U.S. in the team rounds was Granato of Wellington, Fla., on Carlchen W, who had four fences down for 16 faults in round one.
“He is such a fresh, oversensitive horse, and I went in and put a little more pressure on him in some places that I didn’t want to,” said Granato “Going where I did in the team order, it was not my ideal plan to put pressure on my teammates.”
Riding out of the second spot in the team order, Deslauriers of New York, N.Y., on Hester had eight faults.
Jobs of Los Altos Hills, Calif., on her own Venue d’Fees des Hazalles had a critical clear round for the U.S. in round one.
“I really owe that round to her ,because I was really nervous, and she helped me a great deal,” said Jobs of her horse. “She always fights for me, and that’s one of the things that I love so much about her. She wants to win just as much as I do.”
With an additional clear first round for two-time Olympic gold medalist Madden of Cazenovia, N.Y., on Breitling LS, the U.S. team was in second place on 10.09 penalties behind Brazil with 7.39 penalties and followed by Mexico with 10.97 penalties.
Granato and Carlchen W had a determined comeback in round two, finishing with just one fence down and a single time fault for a total of five faults to finish with 21.92 penalties.
“He felt a lot more level-headed this round,” said Granato. “I would have liked to have started with that this morning, but it gave me something to dig in and fight for to have a better round. That is the end of our game this week, so I feel like we’re going out on a really confident and strong note.”
Deslauriers and Hester also had a significant improvement in round two, rgoing clean to finish with 9.32 penalties.
“There were three or four places where I wasn’t 100 percent satisfied with my ride, so I was just really focusing on fixing those things,” said the 20-year-old Deslauriers. “These weeks at a championship really are ultimately about performing for your team, so I was just really happy that I could pick up from my two down in the first round and help them out a little bit.
“Representing the United States at any level feels special and important,” Deslauriers said. “When it goes well, it’s even better. To do it at a championship alongside one of my best friends and two other riders I’ve looked up to, there are no words.”
In the second round, Jobs and Venue d’Fees des Hazalles had eight faults for a final total of 9.17 penalties, but a podium finish was a consolation to the 21-year-old riding in her first championship.
“It’s like a dream come true,” said Jobs. “I really wasn’t expecting this, especially to win a medal not only with people that I’ve looked up to in the sport for years, but with one of my closest friends; I can’t even put into words how happy I am.”
With two fences down in the careful line across the middle of the arena that challenged many competitors, Madden and Breitling LS ended with eight faults, which gave them eight faults overall.
“I think there was maybe just a little lack of focus at the first fence down, and that maybe distracted him for the second fence,” said Madden of her two rails. “I can’t really say there was any really big mistake there. I thought he jumped well both rounds, and it just didn’t go my way that round.”
As the most experienced rider on the team who has competed in four Olympic Games and is at her third Pan American Games, Madden pointed out, “I think the Pan American Games are a super stepping-stone to the Olympic Games. You get the same team atmosphere, the same pressure, trying to win a medal here. People get excited about it. I compliment this venue. It’s fantastic and they’ve done a super job. I think we have a great team here. It’s been a super experience so far, and we look forward to Friday.”
While all four U.S. riders finished Wednesday’s team competition in the top 35 individually, only three athletes from any one nation may advance to the individual final.
The top three U.S. riders, who all finished in the top nine in the individual standings, will advance to Friday’s individual final where they will start on a clean slate for faults for the final two rounds.
Madden, Deslauriers and Jobs return on Friday, Aug. 9, for the individual final, in which athletes will compete in the first round at 12 p.m. EST and the top 20 return for a second round to determine the individual medals.