Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Exchange Days 5 and 6: The Competition!

Posted by USPC ITE team member Geneva Torsilieri

After two days in Yosemite, we packed up and left the park bright and early Sunday morning to travel to competition in Woodside, CA. The day’s carefully scheduled timeline was quickly derailed when the engine of our bus burst an engine hose. We proceeded to sit in our bus on the side of the road for almost 3 hours waiting for repairs. More than 8 ½ hours after leaving Yosemite, we arrived in Woodside, just in time to change quickly for the swim phase of our competition. Stanford University hosted the swim phase at their beautiful facilities, however the format of swimming in a long course pool (50 meters long rather than 25 yards long) presented some new challenges, both physical and mental, to all of the U.S. team. Everyone swam well, with Christine McGrath leading the U.S. team in 2:27.

The US Team (from left): Geneva Torsiliery, coach Shirley Antrobus, Keiley Smith, Maggie Lloyd, Christine McGrath, Rosalie Purvis, Meagan Reader, McKenzie West, and coach Carmelo Felix
After the swim, all the competitors piled back onto the bus, this time bound for the Horse Park at Woodside to watch the horses that were to be used in the riding phase. These horses were generously donated by kind-hearted owners, who cared for them while they were at the Horse Park, gave us as many tips on riding the horses as possible, and took them home again for us when we were finished.

There were some definite standouts in the pool of horses, both positively and negatively. Following this demonstration, each team drew from a hat the horses they would be using for the ride phase. Several of the horses were used three or four times, so for the process of the draw, each horse's name was put into the hat the number of times it was to be ridden. For example, we drew the same horse for two rides, and were assigned the first and third ride on this particular mount. Overall, we were a little worried about the mounts we had been randomly assigned, but with the help of our coach Shirley Antrobus (who was the AMAZING) we came up with a sensible horse assignment plan, and a good plan for the horses we had chosen.

This (Monday) morning arrived WAY too early, and we left the hotel at 6 am to walk our riding course and prepare for the ride. The riding course consisted of fences 3’0-3’3” in height, and involved obstacles such as combinations, a slip rail, a gate, and banks. Warm up for the ride was done in the format of Modern Pentathlon: each competitor was given 20 minutes and 5 warm up fences to get to know their assigned horse and prepare to ride.

Walking the course

 Geneva Torsilieri was first to ride for the team, and second in the overall lineup. She started off the U.S. rides with a clear round. Kenzie West, Christine McGrath, and Maggie Lloyd also rode clear rounds. Rosalee Purvis did an amazing job with with an extremely difficult and green horse, finishing with 3 refusals (in Tetrathlon, a horse/rider pair is not eliminated at the third refusal, but instead is assigned a number of penalty points per refusal (as well as accruing time faults). Megan Reader and Keiley Smith also rode well, with just a few penalties each. Despite a high level of riding from each and every rider, the difficult course and equally difficult mounts made only a handful of clean rounds.

Coach Shirley Antrobus gives the team last-minute instructions on how to ride the course.

Later in the afternoon, we returned to the Horse Park to run. International competitors had to run 3,000 meters (the equivalent of 1.8 miles) around a cross country running course. Though we have not yet received our running times (will blog those later) we were all happy with our running efforts. Tomorrow, we finish competition with the shooting phase and are off to raft down the American river!

Posted by USPC ITE team member Geneva Torsilieri

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