The U.S. show jumping team is sitting just outside the placing necessary to earn a ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics at the conclusion of the first day of show jumping competition in the Pan American Games. The Games, being held in Quillota, Chile, are the team’s last chance to qualify for next year’s Olympics.
After the speed class which opened the competition Tuesday, the U.S. sits in fifth place on 12.37 faults. Brazil, the only country competing in Chile to already have qualified for Paris, leads on a score of 4.32, followed by Colombia (7.29), Canada (9.62) and Argentina (12.01).
Three Olympic qualifying spots will be awarded to the top three countries who have not already qualified at the conclusion of Wednesday’s two-round Nations Cup competition, which will determine team medals.
“The bottom line is, today is one of three rounds,” U.S. Chef D’Equipe Robert Ridland said. “We knew going in, and it’s always the same situation going to a championship format like this, and we talked about it before we even walked the course: The general rule of thumb is that you can’t win it on the first day, but you can lose it, and our focus is now on improving for the second day.
“We didn’t lose it today, and after you do the conversions, the field is pretty bunched up in the middle,” he added. “There are several very good teams here, and truthfully that has been the pattern in many of the most recent Pan American Games, which is not like it was a few decades ago. It’s no surprise to us that Colombia and Argentina are as high up as they are. You have six incredibly good teams, and five of them are relatively close together, especially in the middle where we are.”
In individual standings, Brazil holds the top two spots with Marlon Modolo Zanotelli and Deesse De Coquerie on a faults converted score of 72.87 and Pedro Veniss (Nimrod De Muze Z) on 73.40. Colombia’s Rene Lopez Lizarazo (Kheros Van’t Hoogeinde) is third on 74.32.
McLain Ward leads the U.S. contingent, sitting in ninth place aboard Contagious on a score of 79.56, reflecting his speedy round and single rail down. Laura Kraut and Dorado 212 are right behind him in 10th, with the team’s only clear round and a score of 79.66.
“He was on springs,” Kraut said. “I’m getting used to it, but I think that was probably why he was a bit slower than was intended, but he did his job. He was perfect, so let’s just hope we can go forward tomorrow and do the same.
She was under incredible pressure going in. ”I didn’t check with everybody, but I could imagine all four riders were riding my horse around in there today,” she said. “You hate going in with that feeling that you have to have a good round, but I had a lot of confidence in my horse. He’s wonderful; even though he’s new to the sport, he has the best brain.”
Further down the standings, Kent Farrington and Landon had two rails for a score of 84.16 for 25th place, while Karl Cook had an early rail and a later stop that nearly unseated him from Caracole De La Roque en route to a final score of 111.44, for 43rd place.
“Our takeaway today is no different than what we knew coming in: You don’t ride not to lose, but you can’t also leave everything on the table on the first day, because there are twice as many jumps tomorrow, and it only gets bigger from here on out,” Ridland said of the team’s Wednesday plan. “Our team needs to focus on what we can control, which is how we approach tomorrow, and it’s a new day for each of the teams here.”
The team finals begin at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time and are being livestreamed on ClipMyHorse.TV.
The two-round individual final will take place Friday.