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A Ride in Rio 2016: Day 13

Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil

Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil

Kimmie Lull, Staff Writer

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As horses cantered back into the arena for the final day of jumping, they showed impeccable athleticism when clearing the 1.60 meter fences with ease. There was absolutely no room for error on this course because only the top 20 riders could move on to round two and try for a spot in the jump-off. At the halfway point, only 5 riders went clear and 1 additional rider finished with a single time fault. By the end, all riders who finished with four faults or less were cleared to move on.

Rio brought out elegant jumping fences featuring standards made to look like tree trunks on a bright oxer. There was also an eye catching orange single modeled after a hang glider, like an upside down triangle so the horses jumped the wide side and the jump sat with the tip on the ground. Riders were asked to gallop over the open water, find a single jump on an angle, then make a quick turn back on an open triple gymnastic. This course was truly designed to be a test for the top riders of the world.

Lucy Davis of the United States, just 23 years-old, was the youngest competitor and unfortunately pulled 12 faults in her round aboard her horse Barron. We witnessed for maybe the first time, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum of Germany come in, crash through her first fence, and excuse herself. It was unfortunate, but a smart decision to withdraw. We also saw many riders take down the last fence, reminding us that you don’t have a clear round until your ride is truly over. And on this day of competition, multiple horses were surprised by the open water and just didn’t quite clear the spread. The competition today has shown us that this sport is just as unpredictable and challenging as any other.

The jump off had the audience glued to the edge of their seats. Riders trying desperately to ride clear as their horses grew more tired. Sadly, we watched as Kent Farrington of the United States exited the arena with 8 jumping faults. We were captivated by the fluid ride of Eric Lamaze riding for Canada who took Individual Bronze. We marveled at  Peder Frederickson of Sweden who put in a bold ride, earning him Individual Silver. And we were aghast at the daring ride of Individual Gold rider Nick Skelton of Great Britain who clinched the medal by just .53 seconds! These top honors won’t soon be forgotten.

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