September 14, 2002 -- The United States
Equestrian Team (USET) has overtaken the lead at the conclusion of the
Cross Country phase of the Eventing competition on Saturday at the 2002
World Equestrian Games in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain with a two phase
score of 147.40 penalties.
Led by John Williams of Middleburg, VA, riding his Canadian Sport Horse
Carrick, the United States overtook the lead from Great Britain, the
overnight leaders following the first phase of Dressage. Australia is
currently in second place with a score of 162.40 while France has
unexpectedly moved into third place with a score of 175.40. Great
Britain has fallen to fourth.
With a clear jumping round and less than three time penalties, Williams
currently leads the individual standings with a score of 37.00.
Two-time Olympic team Gold Medalist Phillip Dutton of Australia is in
second with 40.80 while Jean Teulere of France is in third with 41.80
The U.S. Team endured a series of highs and lows throughout the day of
cross-country competition. Olympic Gold Medalist David O'Connor of The
Plains, VA, rode first for the U.S. and experienced problems with the
footing riding Giltedge, owned by Jacqueline Mars, Christa Badger and
Jonathan Ireland. Giltedge kept slipping throughout the course and, as
a result, the pair incurred 30.40 time penalties despite jumping clean.
O'Connor felt his horse just could not grab hold of the turf.
"I didn't expect it to be this slippery for me," said O'Connor, the
reigning Olympic champion. "It was hard keeping my horse's feet
underneath me. He tried so hard."
Williams went second in the line-up for the U.S. squad and easily
negotiated a challenging course that sent numerous veterans tumbling.
"I am delighted with the way things went," said Williams. "It was a
little sketchy at times, but I am pleased with Carrick. He has always
been a wonderful horse and always finds a way to keep going in tight spots."
Amy Tryon of Redmond, Washington had a fall on her Poggio II at fence
18, 'The Euro'. However, the pair were able to continue and
successfully complete the course, securing a team finish for the U.S.
However, this meant that anchor rider Kim Vinoski Severson of
Scottsville, VA riding Winsome Adante owned by Linda Wachmeister and
Plain Dealing Farm, would have to go jump penalty-free in order to keep
the U.S. in gold medal position. Severson and Winsome Adante came
through with an outstanding performance, incurring only 2.4 time
penalties. The finish catapulted them to fifth place individually from
their dressage placing of twenty fourth.
"This is one of those things that you can't grasp," said Severson in
disbelief immediately following her round, the last of the day. "I
didn't really feel that much pressure because Mark went over the routes
we were to take and made us feel confident."
One person who was certainly feeling the pressure was U.S. Chef d'equipe
Captain Mark Phillips.
"If Kim wasn't feeling the pressure I certainly was!" said Phillips.
"But she did a fantastic job."
Phillips was glowing at the end of the day and could not say enough
about the U.S. squad.
"In my ten years, this is the best team of horses and riders that I have
had in the U.S.," said Phillips. "All the riders pull for each other
and our support team is fabulous."
Eventing concludes on Sunday with the show jumping competition. Also on
Sunday, U.S. Dressage riders Debbie McDonald and Lisa Wilcox will battle
it out for a medal in the Freestyle competition.
For comprehensive coverage of the 2002 World Equestrian Games, please
visit the United States Equestrian Team's website at www.uset.org.
The United States Equestrian Team is a non-profit organization that
selects, trains, equips and finances equestrians of the highest possible
standard to represent our country in major international competition,
including the Olympic Games and the World Championships. To accomplish
this, the USET seeks out and nurtures the development of talented
athletes - riders, drivers, vaulters and horses - and provides the
support and guidance they need to help them attain their fullest
potential. For more information on the USET, please call (908)
234-1251, or visit USET ONLINE at www.uset.org.