An unscripted glimpse at the Canadian Equestrian Team's athletes, supporters & fans before, during and after major games. #CanadaStrong

Canada’s Dressage athletes have arrived (both human and equine), and are now settled into their respective accommodations.

Belinda Trussell (2nd Olympics) and Megan Lane (debut Olympics) were able to fly out ahead of their horses so that they could get sorted out and familiarize themselves with the venue before greeting their Olympic mounts.

Since the dressage jog isn’t until August 8th, this gives both Belinda and Megan (and their Grooms!) valuable time to get organized, get comfortable at the Village, get very comfortable at the venue, and become accustomed to all the “craziness” that comes with being an Olympic Games.

That “craziness” includes the extra security checks that happen wherever you go (entering the Village, entering the Venue, entering the stabling area). Plus getting used to the special Olympic transport system which takes the athletes to/from the Village and the Venue. This operates on a set schedule, so it’s important to carefully plan out your days in advance.

The best part of arriving early, and not having the jog until the 8th is that Belinda and Megan could take part in the Opening Ceremonies!! Sadly Eventing couldn’t since competition kicked off the next day (today).

The Opening Ceremonies are incredibly special for the athletes, and nothing else really gives that feeling of unity with not only the Canadian Olympic Team, but also unity with ALL athletes coming together from all sports across the globe.

And it’s indescribable that sensation when you first walk into the stadium in the Parade of Nations, and you see and hear the crowd. It is definitely very moving, very powerful, and really drives home that you are part of something much bigger. It’s a feeling that you carry with you not only through the Games, but throughout your life. It’s something you can draw upon whenever you feel down, discouraged, or need that extra “umph” when life is tossing you challenges right, left and centre.

Which is why I’m so thrilled that Belinda and Megan were able to march in the ceremonies!

Although it’s not for the faint  of heart, that’s for sure. Athletes are gathered hours before at the Canadian apartment block in the Olympic Village. First order of business is ensuring you have your Opening Ceremonies pass, which is what grants you access. Your Olympic Accreditation is not enough on its own.

You’re then given a run-down of what will happen in getting to/ during / leaving the Opening Ceremonies. And lots of team spirit cheerleading! And there’s no better Canadian cheerleader than Canada’s Chef de Mission Curt Harnett.  He can get you pumped up about going to get groceries at the local store, let alone about to walk onto the world stage and into the history books in Rio.

For these Games, it was having to take a bus for the trip to the Maracanã stadium. At which point, you’re then ushered into a “holding” stadium adjacent to the Maracanã. This is where the Organizers make sure that all the countries are organized in the same order as they will march into the stadium.

More standing, sitting, waiting………chants to keep people entertained and patriotic energy “up”, getting to meet fellow Canadian athletes, water and snacks distributed (if you’re lucky!) and reminders from the Chef de Mission to fully take in experience and not to have your face stuck in an iPhone as you walk into the stadium.

You know….just hanging out with tennis phenom Vasek Pospisil…as one does  🙂
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Then you leave the holding pen, and start marching towards the main Maracanã stadium….and more standing and waiting…..spontaneous singing of Oh Canada

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#314strong

A post shared by Curt Harnett (@curt_harnett) on

 

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Walkin to da bus for opening ceremonies!!!

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And Chef Curt reminds you to stay bunched together….no stragglers!

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But that feeling when you walk in!

Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony

Rosannagh Maclennan carries the flag of Canada during the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

 

Although hours have passed before you get to see the Olympic flame lit, and your feet, legs & back are killing you from all the standing, and you likely won’t get to sleep until 1am, it’s worth it….

Canada has officially arrived and is ready to take on the world.

Go Canada Go!

 

 

After an amazing opening ceremonies last night (more on that later), competition officially kicked off today with Day 1 of Eventing Dressage.

Calm Before the Storm

Canadian FEI Steward Jan Stephens caught this incredible sunrise shot at the venue.

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Unfortunately the spectator stands were quite empty, and while not unusual for Eventing Dressage it’s still disappointing. Having said that, less people typically means less noise & distraction…and when you’re sitting on top of a finely tuned cross-country machine that is not necessarily a bad thing!

Jessica Phoenix and Donald Leschied’s A Little Romance had the honour of making the very first hoof prints in the Olympic competition arena.

They laid down a very steady test, and were rewarded with one of their best dressage scores to date: 52.0. This is a terrific start for Canada given the toughness of this Olympic’s cross-country course.

Maple Leaf Proud! 

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photo Sandra Andresen

Heading down to the main competition arena

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That’s an OLYMPIC smile after achieving your personal best! 

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Next Canadian in the ring today was Kathryn Robinson and Let it Bee.
Kathryn put in an extremely flowing and harmonious test – and they looked both very focused AND relaxed at the same time, a hard thing to achieve!

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Game Face On – Check!
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It’s Go Time!
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Dancing with the Olympic Stars
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Hugging the stuffing out of your horse after having the ride of your life in the biggest sandbox in the world 🙂
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…and those in the Kiss & Cry Box look pretty happy too!
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Off to see the Stewards after a very successful ride
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It’s worth noting it’s a super hot day today at the Deodoro venue with temperatures hitting 33 Celsius and 28% humidity – ouch!

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It was interesting to see a lot of families in the audience today. It was apparent that for most, this was their first introduction to equestrian events as they would cheer and clap while horses were in the ring. Great to see the enthusiasm, but definitely a challenge for some horses and riders.

Spectators

Hats off to the first Brazilian rider down the centreline, Marcio Appel. As soon as he set foot into the main stadium the crowd erupted! And when he rode up to do his first salute down centreline, they erupted again with cheers and applause. Thankfully his horse didn’t bat an eye but instead seemed to soak it all in.

It was also great to see Canada’s Governor General David Johnston and his wife Sharon come out to cheer on Jessica and Kathryn today.

And folks from the Canadian Olympic Committee also came out to meet the athletes and the grooms. Thanks for the love COC!

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Multiple Olympic medal-winning short track speedskater Tania Vicent with Lynsey Rowan and Anton

Full Results

Check them out at
https://www.rio2016.com/en/equestrian-eventing-individual-dressage-day-1

Day 2 – Eventing Dressage & How to Watch Online

On deck tomorrow are Colleen Loach (10:16am) and Rebecca Howard (1:54pm) local times.

If you’re in Canada, CBC.ca is live streaming ALL of the equestrian events.

Go to: http://olympics.cbc.ca/online-listing/

The Olympic Organizers are also doing a fantabulous job of getting scores up immediately following the riders.

https://www.rio2016.com/en/equestrian-schedule-and-results

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We can now officially say that Olympic equestrian competition is underway in Rio de Janeiro.

Today was the horse inspection for Eventing, and Canada passed with flying colours!

Colleen Loach & Qorry Blue d’Agrouges

 

Rebecca Howard & Riddle Master

Jessica Phoenix & A Little Romance with groom Sandra Andresen

 

Colleen Loach & Qorry Blue D’Argouges

Tomorrow will be Day 1 of Eventing Dressage.

Riding Times

Dressage competition will kick off at 10:00am local time (9:00am EST) and Jessica Phoenix has the unenviable job of being very first horse/rider into the ring.

Saturday August 6
10:00am – Jessica Phoenix & A Little Romance
1:30pm – Kathryn Robinson & Let it Bee

Sunday August 7
10:16am – Colleen Loach & Qorry Blue d’Argouges
1:54pm – Rebecca Howard & Riddle Master

Full Riding Times here

Cross Country

Yesterday was also the first opportunity for riders to walk the cross-country course. Aside from being visually gorgeous, with lots of “Brazilian” finishing touches, it looks like the kind of course that the top riders will make it look easy while still presenting enough questions so that it’s not strictly a “dressage show”.

Canada’s Eventing Team ready for action! 

 

Walk the Cross Country Course!

Take a virtual course walk of the Olympic cross-country track with Horse and Hound. Just click on the picture below.

 

Flag Raising Ceremony

The flag raising ceremony held at the Olympic Village is also a very special moment, and in many ways signifies the official kick-off to the Olympics.

It’s a way to formally announce to the other countries that Canada is officially here, and ready to take on the world.

Canadian athletes congregate outside the Canada building in the Village, and are treated to an inspirational team pep talk by Chef de Mission Curt Harnett.

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I will admit that it does feel a little bit like being at camp again, with everyone dressed in the same casual camp clothes and an excited “Let’s Go Canada!” atmosphere.

After the pep talk, you then walk to where all the international flags are raised and are treated to official welcome performances from the host country.

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For many athletes, this is their first and sometimes only opportunity (spending on their competition schedule) to meet others from their “tribe” who are competing in different sports.

Canada Olympic House Unveiled!

Canada Olympic House (COH) is the home-away-from-home for Canada’s athletes. It serves as a fantastic meeting place for friends & family to relax with their athletes.

Given that moms/dads/husbands/wives/partners and supporters typically do not have official accreditation, they are limited as to where they can meet up with their Olympic athlete.

COH provides them with a very comfortable (as you can see!) and safe location where they can catch up and give that all important moral support.

COH is also the location where athlete achievements are celebrated!

 

Until next time, it’s time to catch up on zzzz’s and be ready for the Olympic stage!

2016-08-04-Quorry3(photo courtesy of Qorry’s groom extraordinaire Janie Lussier – Facebook)

 

 

Eventing in da house!

A very quick blog today to catch up with our athletes’ exploits.

Our dynamo team of Eventing Ladies are greeted each morning by the Canadian mascot. I wonder if they give him a rub for good luck?

Today was an opportunity to familiarize the horses with the showgrounds, including the “field of dreams” main stadium.

Jessica Phoenix & A Little Romance finding their Brazilian groove.

 

Qorry Blue D’Argouges (Colleen Loach) and his groom extraordinaire Janie Lussier

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Qorry already thinking ahead to cross-country fun!

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 And our Dressage athletes are en route!

Both Megan Lane and Belinda Trussell are in the air, and will arrive in Rio in the wee hours. Their horses are flying out of JFK, New York on Tuesday and will arrive later in the day.

Belinda: “Waiting for our flight to Rio. There are over 80 athletes on the flight tonight!!

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Field of Dreams

Since there are still a few days before competition begins, I’ll take the opportunity to focus on the venue and the Athletes’ Village.

Deodoro – Centro Olímpico de Hipismo

Today, it’s all about the Deodoro venue.

All of the Olympic venues are organized into zones: Barra, Copacabana, Maracana and Deodoro. Equestrian falls into the Deodoro zone, located just northwest of the city. The area is a busy suburb, bordering Vila Militar and Vila Eugénia, and is home to Brazil´s largest military barracks, over 60,000 servicemen and women.

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In the map above, you can see the Deodoro Zone at the top. If you look straight down, that is where the Olympic Village is (where our Eventing and Dressage athletes are staying). And if you look to the right of Deodoro, you’ll see the Maracanã Zone with the famous Maracanã stadium one of the green icons below – home to where the Opening Ceremonies will be held!

The equestrian venue itself is actually a military compound, so no shortage of a military presence!

Sports being held in the Deodoro zone include modern pentathlon, shooting, rugby sevens
mountain bike & BMX and whitewater rafting.  Thе Deodoro Park іѕ thе ѕесоnd largest concentration оf competition venues аt Rio 2016.

This equestrian venue is the same that was used for the 2007 Pan American Games, but has had significant re-building done.

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The main stadium has remained essentially the same, with the exception of the footing having been re-done.

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http://www.rio2016.com

Stadium

 

 

The Main Arena

Although there are multiple warm-up rings, including an indoor arena, all the horses & riders will be given time in Main Competition Arena. These are known as “familiarization sessions”. As we get closer to the actual competition date, the organizers will set up the rings for competition including the judges’ booths, dressage rings, flowers etc. Countries will then sign up to a schedule in order to for their athletes to have their allotted training time.

This is the perfect opportunity for the riders and horses and to get a feel for how things will look on their actual competition day – without the cheering crowds of course! But even without the fans, it does give everyone an excellent opportunity to more accurately visualize how they will approach things on the day.

And typically the biggest point of interest is the electronic board – which is historically one of the more popular topics at Team Leader / Chef d’equipe meetings…. ensuring that the organizers will have it operating in the same way as they will on competition day, so that horses (and riders) get used to it.

The Stables

Always the busiest place at a Major Games, these stables are all newly built. While it’s great that they are all facing outwards, meaning airflow will not be an issue, most countries will devise a system to prevent the sun from hitting the stalls full force.

Because getting to and from the venue is an adventure in itself (the journey, going through security etc.), you can’t easily “pop in” and “pop back”. So it’s also important to fit out an area for quiet time for the riders – somewhere they can go to collect their thoughts, relax and generally take a break from all the activity. This is even more crucial as competition gets into full swing.

The same is true for the horses, and most teams will have worked out a pre-determined schedule to ensure that there is lots of “downtime” for the horses to relax. This typically includes scheduling “visiting hours” for Owners, Family and visiting officials from the National Federation and the country’s Olympic Committee. Remember what I said about the importance of a routine and controlling the things you can control, while not stressing about the things outside of your control? This falls perfectly into the “controllable” category.

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Hope you come back for tomorrow’s edition…the Olympic Village!

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