Team U.S.A. is virtually untouchable after the cross country phase of the eventing competition at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. Thousands of spectators came out to the Santa Sofia country club to watch the day’s events unfold, and while crowd control was definitely an issue, team U.S.A. had no problems or drama throughout the day.
Even a broken stirrup leather couldn’t stop Buck Davidson and Absolute Liberty, who went first for the U.S.A. and notched a double clear round despite his right stirrup leather breaking during the latter part of the course.
After Buck set the tone, clear rounds within in time followed by all team U.S.A. members: Hannah Burnett and Harbour Pilot, Lynn Symansky and Donner, Michael Pollard and Schoensgreen Hanni, and Shannon Lilley with Ballingowan Pizazz.
Canadian rider Jessica Phoenix held onto her individual lead with Pavarotti, but the U.S. follows in the remaining individual slots, sitting 2nd through 6th. Canada is second, and Brazil third in team rankings.
The stadium jumping will be held in the two-round Olympic format, with one round counting toward individual and one toward team scores. While the U.S.A. enters the stadium jumping phase with five rails in hand, anything can happen in the sport of eventing.
Although many riders suffered elimination due to falls, and other riders saw their scores affected from stops on course, the day unfolded without any serious falls or injury to horses or riders. However, the quotable blog of the day goes to onsite reporter John Thier of Eventing Nation, who commented that “I have never seen more of a contrast in brilliant riding and terrible riding in one day.” Some Central and South American riders pushed their horses to far and were outmatched on the CIC2* course. It is a lucky thing that the competition escaped the drama of dealing with serious injuries on course. Today’s jog should be very interesting as the recovery of all competing horses is examined.
Unfortunately there is no live broadcast of the events, but live scoring is available here. The stadium jumping (Individual round first) begins at 1pmEST.
Enjoy the following moments from Saturday’s cross country phase, courtesy of MacMillan Photography: