September 18, 2002 -- The U.S. is in first place at the conclusion of the first
day of dressage competition in this sport, a particularly impressive result
when you consider America has more than a five-penalty lead over favored
Germany. While all three of the U.S. drivers went today, one German is set to
go tomorrow as the driving dressage wraps up.
The USA's Jimmy Fairclough didn't get a break today, having the misfortune to
go first in the competition. He couldn't get much of a warm-up, because it
was practically dark when he was starting out, and a cleaning crew in the
stands didn't help him, either. His score was 55.04 penalties, but teammates
Tucker Johnson and Chester Weber tied on 39.36 penalties.
Tucker noted that the grassy warm-up area made his drive there "like a Sunday
walk in the park," but he compared the arena to "a nightclub." His horses
didn't get jangled at the rude transition, but both he and Chester noted the
entrance to the arena was difficult, and astroturf over mud and concrete
wasn't the best thing to drive on.
Both men were pleased, though.
"If you told me Chester and I were going to be tied at 39 in such a good
position, I would have been dumbfounded," said Tucker, who has been tipped as
a candidate for an individual medal.