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Severson in Fourth After Dressage Phase; Britain, France and Germany Lead in Team Standings
Equestrian Olympics Press Release by Brian Sosby
The United States Eventing Team has its work cut out for it tomorrow and Wednesday as Great Britain, France and Germany grabbed the lead in the team standings after the dressage phase of the competition. Only 1.2 points separate the three teams, and the U.S. team is 15.2 penalty points behind team leader Great Britain. Kim Severson of Keene, VA, posted an excellent dressage test today on Winsome Adante with a score of 36.2. It is important that the U.S. team go clean in the cross country phase tomorrow morning to keep its medal hopes alive.
Currently the U.S. Individual Standings are as follows:
Kim Severson, Keene, VA, 36.2, 4th place
Darren Chiacchia, Springdale, NY, 44.6, 15th place
John Williams, Middleburg, VA, 47.60, 23rd place
Amy Tryon, Duvall, WA, 50.6, 29th place
Julie Richards, Newnan, GA, 65.4, 58th place
Top 5 Team Standings:
Great Britain: 113.20
Today's Play by Play
A second day of wind and mild temperatures greeted the second group of eventers as Day
II of the dressage phase wrapped up at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games at Markopoulo
Center outside of Athens today. Some were left wondering if the Greek god Zeus himself
had come down from Mt. Olympus to make an appearance and stir up the atmosphere
surrounding the facility. However, it was Frenchman Nicolas Touzaint who posted the
day’s best score – 29.40 – to put him atop all other competition at the end of the day. His score came within six-tenths of tying the 2000 Olympic Eventing Gold medalist David O’Connor’s record score of 29.00.
As for the Americans, there were two to compete today alongside the 38 riders entering
the dressage arena – John Williams aboard Carrick and Kim Severson aboard Winsome
Among today’s eventing contenders for the Gold were Britain’s Pippa Funnell and
Primmore’s Pride; Australian Phillip Dutton and Nova Top; Australia’s Andrew Hoy and
Mr. Pracatan; Britain’s William Fox-Pitt and Tamarillo; and New Zealands’ Andrew
Nicholson and Fenicio.
During Sunday’s round one, Americans found themselves battling wind and noise at the
facility. Julie Richards found the conditions a challenge as she and Jacob Two Two
entered the arena at an unlucky hour just as the winds picked up. The gusts, as well as
the noisy atmosphere, have proven a factor in the scoring. Other riders across the board
made mention of the conditions.
Perhaps it was the shape of the stadium seating that was the culprit of the noisy
environment – a curved structure that has proven to create an echo effect, according to
riders going on both days of the dressage phase. Accompanied by the flags of 23
countries whipping furiously in the wind, the din of an enthusiastic crowd and the continuous cacophony spooked horses and provided an extra challenge to
overcome in the athletes’ bids to stand upon the podium at Wednesday night’s awarding
of the Gold, Silver and Bronze medals for both Team and Individual competitions.
First to compete today among the two American riders was Middleburg, VA, resident John Williams and the Thoroughbred-cross gelding, Carrick. The pairing won their first international competition in 2002 and were hoping this week would add to their tally. Having assisted the U.S. team in winning the Gold medal at the 2002 World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain, and placing third in the Modified Rolex Three-Day Event in Kentucky this past spring, they entered the dressage arena just after noon.
With clouds parting and the sun beaming through, after a cloudy and unseasonably cool
morning, Williams began his test under absolutely wind-torn conditions. The noise alone
from the wind was enough to distract the most focused of horses.
However, for Carrick, the distractions proved to be a minimum – as he is a horse that
performs well under difficult circumstances. The pairing posted a dressage score of
47.60 for a final placing among the two-day scores of 23rd place.
Jokingly, after his ride, Williams said, “It wasn’t windy enough! He [Carrick] isn’t your
typical event horse – cold and wind and snow are all good.” Taking into consideration
that Williams and Carrick call Middleburg, VA, their home – where the temperatures
may not be as blistering as in Greece, but the humidity can be absolutely stifling, he was
happy overall with the wind and lack of humidity. “This is better than we had
anticipated,” he admitted.
Definitely among Carrick’s strength is his concentration, which played out well today,
and Williams echoed this in saying, “A situation like this doesn’t phase him in the
least…I was hoping the crowds and the wind would perk him up more – exactly what
everybody else was not hoping for,” he said.
“Oh, well!” he laughed. “We were pleased enough with our performance. I mean, you
always wish it was a little better. But, I am a little disappointed in the score.”
Not disappointed for certain had to be Williams’ parents, from the Rochester, NY, area
who had made the long trip to Greece to watch their son compete in his first Olympic
Turning the question to the modified format for the cross-country, Williams commented
that it was very important that the horses be just as fit as they would be for a “proper
four-star.” Many have criticized the course as being less of a challenge than what would
be found at the four-star level. However, this has yet to be proven, with the horses facing
that challenge on cross-country day on Tuesday.
Following Williams was the Frenchman Jean Teulere and his mount Espoir de
la Mare. Paying no attention to the hazards of the winds and noise, the pairing charged
forth and brought home to the French team an impressive dressage score of 38.40. An
elated French contingent was in full appreciation, some of them sporting dyed hair to
match the tricoleur – red, white and blue.
Teulere admitted a few missteps during the pair’s performance saying, “We made a few
mistakes.” He continued to say that his hopes were high for a victory for Team France
since a medal has eluded them since Jean-Jacques Guyon’s Eventing Gold medal at the
1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.
Another big name taking his turn at dressage today was the venerable Aussie team
member Phillip Dutton aboard Nova Top. Dutton and his gelding landed a score of 46.8 –
further bumping three of four Americans down in the placings.
An impressive ride was handed in by Germany’s Frank Ostholt and his chestnut
Hanoverian stallion Air Jordan. And Ostholt was quick to note that this was his mount’s
best test ever, even though the aforementioned noise situation had spooked him a bit
alongside of the arena. They posted 41.4 penalties for an overall ninth placing at day’s
Britain’s Pippa Funnell cruised through a beautiful dressage round and raised the stakes
on all who came to Athens to challenge the first-ever Eventing Grand Slam champion.
Posting a score of 31.40, she leapt into the lead; however, there was more dressage to
come. Would her score hold to leave her on top to start the second phase of the eventing
Late in the day, all eyes turned to American Kim Severson from Keene, VA, and her
Winsome Adante as they prepared to enter the arena. Severson and “Dan,” as he is
affectionately known, were high on the list of riders expected to excel in Athens for
Team USA, having won two of the last three Rolex Kentucky four-star events in
Lexington. The pairing spent a year away from competition as they both were nursed
back to top form. Severson suffered a terrible fall leaving her bedridden for the 2003
event, while Dan found himself with a threatening case of colic. Both of them, in true
champion form, fought back. Today they proved their position as one of the big threats at
this year’s Olympic Games. Their focus was unflinching, not allowing the troubles that
plagued other combinations to get in their way of the Olympic medal podium.
“I am very happy – very happy with it,” commented a smiling Severson. “I rode him
three times today, which is more than I ever ride him – just to make sure.” Severson did
not ride him conservatively she said, instead opening him up. “In his condition, it’s just
the best thing to do.”
When asked about her first trip to the Olympics, Severson surprised some with her
answer. “It’s actually a lot more laid back than I thought it was going to be – I was
surprised. It’s a lot like any other horse show – which is nice. It was pleasantly
surprising, and it was a lot quieter than I had anticipated,” said Severson. “I was very
much on my aids, and I was really happy with him,” she said, referring to her horse’s
performance in the ring.
With her dressage test at the end of the second day of stiff competition, there was much
riding on her effort. But none of that seemed to bother the calm and collected Severson.
“It was about me and my horse – not about anyone else,” she confidently stated. “I just
needed to do what I did for myself. You can’t worry about other people. Yo u just have
to do your own thing.” And that she certainly did.
As for cross-country on Tuesday, Severson thinks that the course is going to be mentally
tough and a real challenge to stay on it. “You’ll just have to be on the ball all the way
around it,” she added. “At any event, it is anybody’s game.”
Accompanying Severson after her ride was USA Team Chef d’Equipe Captain Mark
Phillips whose broad smile told the story.
“She’s great,” he said. “She’s a very cool customer – number one. And number two –
she always produces her best work in the ring, and that’s a great skill.”
Looking forward to Tuesday’s highly- anticipated cross-country test, Captain Phillips
smiled and teasingly said, “Well, tomorrow…tomorrow is another day.”
New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson, placed high on the list to do well in the dressage
phase, saw his hopes fade in the late afternoon sun as he and his mount Fenicio posted a
rather disappointing 63.40.
Top 10 scores at the end of the dressage phase of Eventing:
29.60 Nicolas Touzaint (FRA) and Galan de Sauvagere
31.40 Pippa Funnell (GBR) and Primmore’s Pride
32.00 Bettina Hoy (GER) and Ringwood Cockatoo
36.20 Kim Severson (USA) and Winsome Adante
38.40 Jean Teulere (FRA) and Espoir de la Mare
38.60 William Fox-Pitt (GBR) and Tamarillo
40.60 Rebel Morrow (AUS) and Oaklea Groover
41.00 Ingrid Klimke (GER) and Sleep Late
41.40 Frank Ostholt (GER) and Air Jordan
43.20 Leslie Law (GBR) and Shear L’Eau