Lausanne (SUI), 20 October 2011 – American Dressage riders swept all before them when returning a record-breaking fourth consecutive team victory and filling all the steps of the individual medal podium at the 2011 Pan-American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. On Sunday they cruised confidently into pole position in the team event ahead of the silver medallists from Canada while Colombia claimed the bronze. And yesterday Steffen Peters steered Weltino’s Magic to individual gold ahead of Heather Blitz with Paragon in silver and Marisa Festerling and Big Tyme in bronze.
It was a convincing performance at all levels, and anchorman Peters was the linchpin of the American side. But, as he pointed out in the aftermath of the team success, he was under considerably less pressure than usual due to the highly-competitive performances of his team-mates. “Over the past few years I have always had to carry a lot of weight on my shoulders as the very last rider, but the team did an awesome job – every single horse, every single rider,” he pointed out. The silver medallists from Canada and bronze medallists from Colombia had plenty of reason to celebrate too, as their second and third-place finishes have provided them with qualifying spots for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
TEAM MEDALS A total of 12 nations battled it out for the team medals, and the combined US score of 75.754 gave them a clear five-point victory. Peters and Weltino’s Magic produced the only score over 80% – his 80.132 setting a new Pan-American Games record – and he was awarded the leading mark by all five members of the Ground Jury – Great Britain’s Stephen Clarke, Raphael Saleh from France, Canada’s Cara Witham, Argentina’s Gabriel Armando and President, Lilo Fore, from the USA.
The U.S. Dressage Team continued to own the Guadalajara Country Club’s beautiful dressage arena, continuing their medal run at the 2011 Pan American Games. They added Individual Gold, Silver and Bronze to the Team Gold they won on Sunday and they all scored over 80 percent in today’s freestyle.
Steffen Peters (San Diego, CA) wasn’t sure it would be possible to top Heather Blitz (Wellington, FL) and Paragon’s score of 86.650%, but he rode with a fierce determination and got every point out of Weltino’s Magic. They scored 87.300% for their freestyle to music by Seven and Five for a combined average of 82.690%. Jan and Bruce Hlavacek’s 9-year-old Westphalian gelding gave Peters his second Gold medal of these Games.
“What an amazing day and an amazing competition,” said the Olympic veteran. “I still have to think about the moment that I came out of the arena and when the scores were announced it probably took 30 seconds but it seemed like three hours. It is a very exciting day, congratulations to my teammates. The big score that Heather pulled in – I don’t think I’ve ever had that much pressure going into the arena knowing that there was an 86% in front of me.”
After scoring Team Gold Sunday afternoon, the U.S. Dressage riders went to task again, this time in the first half of the Individual Final. Riding the Intermediaire I test, all four U.S. riders kept the level of their Game high, and continued to thrive in the main arena at the Guadalajara Country Club. They swept the top three places, and head to the freestyle on Wednesday in Medal position.
Steffen Peters (San Diego, CA) topped the scoreboard again on Weltino’s Magic, this time scoring 78.079% in another valiant effort. Heather Blitz (Wellington, FL) is second on Paragon with a score of 77.184% and Marisa Festerling went one better than in the Team competition, finishing third on Big Tyme on a score of 74.316%. Cesar Parra (Whitehouse Station, NJ) rounded out the U.S. effort with a sixth place finish on Grandioso on a score of 72.000%.
Weltino’s Magic continues to rise to the occasion for Peters, despite one mistake early in the test, Peters was pleased with Jen and Bruce Hlavacek’s 9-year-old Westphalian gelding. Weltino’s Magic nearly broke to canter in the first trot extension across the diagonal.
The U.S. Dressage Team’s Gold medal never looked in doubt today at the 2011 Pan American Games. They started off confidently and with each ride, the margin improved. They stormed to victory and won their fourth consecutive Pan American Games Team Gold medal – a first in the sport of Dressage. Their combined average score of 74.421% left them well clear of the Canadians who won Silver with a combined average of 70.413%. Colombia put in a valiant late effort to surge into the top three with 69.632%.
Led by Olympic veteran Steffen Peters (San Diego, CA) on Weltino’s Magic – the only combination to score over 80% – the U.S. Team put on an exhibition. Peters’s score of 80.132% is a Pan American Games record. A strong anchor rider, Peters had the luxury today of a little less pressure due to the fact that the entire team put in top 10 performances.
“It was one of the best tests this horse has done,” said Peters. “I have to say a big thank you to my teammates because they gave me a very relaxed position to start in today. Over the past few years I have always had to carry a lot of weight on my shoulders as the very last rider but the team did an awesome job, every single horse, every single rider.”