The U.S. Young Rider Jumping Team put in a dominant performance to finish atop the podium for the gold medal in the FEI Jumping Nations Cup Youth Final CSIOY on Sept. 29, in Opglabbeek, Belgium. Led by Chef d’Equipe Anne Kursinski, the U.S. team consisted of Natalie Dean, Sophie Gochman, Brian Moggre, Giavanna Rinaldi and alternate Lauren Fischer.
“I’m very, very proud of my team,” said Kursinski. “They’ve all been exceptional riders at home, and they’ve won a lot at home, but to put them together as a team, we don’t get to do this in the States hardly ever. It’s always individual competition. They came together beautifully as a team, and they worked fabulously. I’m really thrilled with them because they are the future of our sport.”
The team won Thursday’s opening qualifying round with just one fault after Rinaldi and Dean jumped clear. Moggre had four faults, and Gochman had one time fault.
Giavanna Rinaldi (St. Charles, Illinois) and Arsouille du Seigneur, a 13-year-old Selle Francais gelding owned by HS Sportpferde, were the pathfinders in both rounds of competition. They notched a clear performance on Sunday to put the team in strong contention at the start.
“It was such an incredible experience,” said Rinaldi. “I’ve learned so much this week. I think being able to come here and compete on this team, you really want to do well for your country, teammates, chef, sponsors, owners. It has been an incredible week. My horses jumped so well all week, and I’m thankful for the support we’ve had.
“All of my teammates [this week] are so great in their own ways,” said Rinaldi, who won Friday’s Prijs Coco’s Equine Transport Grand Prix CSIOY on her second horse, Concuela. “I love being able to work with them, especially Anne. She’s been so helpful over here, giving advice and team spirit, keeping us going every day. We all pulled through, and the team came out on top. I hope I’m able to ride on a team with them again soon.”
Coming into this week’s competition, Rinaldi had the most experience representing the United States in international competition, having won the team gold medal at the 2017 FEI Junior Rider Nations Cup Langley and the 2019 FEI Jumping Nations Cup Hagen CSIOY.
“Although I have been mostly competing in Europe for two years, it’s so incredible to represent my country,” said Rinaldi, 20, who works as a professional for Helena and Tim Stormanns in Eschweiler, Germany. “To have the American flag next to my name means a lot, and I try to keep the results coming while I’m showing and living here.”
Natalie Dean (Palo Alto, California) riding Don’s Diamant, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Dean and Marigold Sporthorses, also contributed a clear round for the team.
“It was a really incredible opportunity for all of us to see the Nations Cup format and do this as a youth rider,” said the 20-year-old. “I think our team really pulled together and got along well. It was a really fun experience for all of us.”
A member of the gold medal-winning Zone 10 team at the 2019 Adequan FEI North American Youth Championships, Dean said this experience will “really help” her future career in show jumping. “All of us want to be on a senior Nations Cup team at some point in our careers. This is a really good stepping-stone for learning the team environment and working with a chef like Anne. I’m really grateful for the opportunity from [USEF], my parents and my trainer Ilan Ferder.”
Brian Moggre (18, Flower Mound, Texas) rode MTM Los Angeles, a 7-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Major Wager LLC, to the third clear round of the day for the U.S. team.
With three clear rounds and victory easily clinched, Sophie Gochman (16, New York City) and Carola BH, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare owned by Gochman Sport Horse, did not have to return and were the drop score.
“To jump three clear rounds under the pressure, with a bigger course today, the time was tight, they all had to make the inside turn into the [open] water line, was incredible,” described Kursinski. “It was just a great team to work with. They are all so talented, and they rode so well under the pressure. It was the first time in Europe for most of them. To have the real U.S. team experience abroad, there’s just nothing like it. They just handled [the pressure] beautifully.”
The U.S. Young Rider Jumping Team took the gold medal on zero faults, while Great Britain won silver with two faults and Denmark were bronze on four faults.
This marks the third gold medal that the U.S. Young Rider Jumping Team has won this year under the guidance of Kursinski, including earlier wins at the FEI Jumping Nations Cup CSIOY in Wellington, Florida, and at the FEI Jumping Nations Cup Hagen CSIOY (Germany).
“I think this Final for the youth is fantastic,” said Kursinski of the FEI Jumping Nations Cup Youth Final. “The experience, there’s just nothing like it. It’s just what they need at this stage of life. Even at other European shows, there are 10-15 Americans. Here you are the [U.S. team]. For them to get a feel for international competition is important; they know what’s necessary, and the sport is a little different over here. The mental part, being a team player, it’s an invaluable experience. I’m very excited about the future of our sport.”
The FEI Jumping Nations Cup Youth Final CSIOY is modeled after the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final and prepares up and coming athletes for the demands of international team competition, while fostering team unity and national pride.
The U.S. qualified a team for the FEI Jumping Nations Cup Youth Final as a result of Zone 10’s second-place finish in the Young Rider Team Competition at the NAYC in August, a key developmental event for the U.S. Jumping Program and its youth athletes. Two of the five members selected to the FEI Jumping Nations Cup Youth Final team secured an individual-podium finish in the Young Rider division at NAYC, while the three additional combinations were appointed through discretionary selection.