Friday, September 13, 2002; 9 a.m.: Obviously, the most exciting part of yesterday was the U.S. dressage team winning the team silver medal. Usually the Americans are battling for bronze, not sitting in solid place for silver.
Lisa Wilcox was the last U.S. rider to go and except for a few unbalanced steps in the piaffe, due to Relevant giving so much power and energy in them, she gave a solid test, scoring 74.2 percent.
But Spain's Rafael Soto Andrade still had to go. There was a slim, but not impossible, chance that his ride could allow the Spanish team to take the silver. At the end of his ride, the Spanish audience gave a thunderous cheer-you can tell they love their hometown heroes--and he scored 72.16 percent-very good, but not good enough to take the silver. For more on the winning teams, go to Nancy Jaffer's story.
Beyond the results, what's fun about being here is seeing some of the lighter moments:
Yesterday morning, a few hours before her test, Canada's Shannon Dueck quipped with her U.S. coach, Kathy Connelly: "Ulla [Salzgeber] and Rusty -- watch out. Here we come. Farbenfroh and Nadine [Capellmann] -- get ready to move over." She later went on to earn a very respectable 67.56 percent and qualified for today's Grand Prix Special.
U.S. rider Guenter Seidel also has a sly wit. During a group interview after his ride, you could tell he was disappointed. He scored 69.84 percent, but he said Nikolaus wasn't as through as he has been and they had some mistakes in the test. When a reporter asked him if he knew why spectators had whistled when he got in the ring, he deadpanned, "I think it was because I looked so good." (Then he admitted it probably had been for the previous rider's scores.)
Guenter also ribbed Lisa Wilcox at the press conference after the medal ceremony. Tears welled in Lisa's eyes when she spoke about her trainer and romantic partner Ernst Hoyos, formerly of the Spanish Riding School. She was so emotional she could barely get words out and had to pause to compose herself. Afterward, while the Spanish team answered a question, Guenter, who was sitting next to her, pretended he had to wipe tears away from his eyes. Lisa quietly laughed and gave him a lighthearted tap on the arm in rebuke.
The riders should be starting to warm up for the Special. With the team medals set, the road to the individual medals begins.