August 21, 2012– Passports in hand and the final tack box loaded, the United States Paralympic Equestrian Team is on their way to London. Chef d’Equipe Missy Ransehousen and equestrians Rebecca Hart, top ten FEI Paralympian Jonathan Wentz, Donna Ponessa and Dale Dedrick will shortly accompany their horses when they arrive in the United Kingdom. From the logistics of international travel to the intense competition, the United States Para-Equestrian Dressage Team has a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks.
As the only athletes in the Paralympics that have four legs, these high-performance horses will be traveling first-class aboard a FedEx Express MD-11 with the finest of luxuries. The amenities include groom accompaniment, social interaction, their own team veterinarian and a large box stall for each horse.
Once landed, the horses will be stabled in Surrey where they will remain with their riders until August 24, when they make their way to Greenwich Park.
The horses, grooms, and trunks will go through a strict screening process, which includes detection canines and a full sweep of all compartments within the lorry and trailer.
Horses begin arriving at the Greenwich Park Equestrian facilities starting August 24, with the FEI horse inspection on August 29. Seventy-eight horses are expected to arrive at the paralympic stables–flying, driving and sailing–from 26 nations around the world.
Each nation’s riders, staffs and chef d’equipes will promptly get into competition mode as they approach the August 30, 9 a.m. start time for Grade II team test in the sold-out equestrian venue. For Great Britain this is an opportunity to defend their title.
Since the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta, where para-dressage was first included, Great Britain has won the gold team medal–and in 2010 they earned 13 medals at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.
The Great Great Britain team includes Lee Pearson, a nine-time Paralympic Games gold medalist, including the Sydney, Athens and Beijing Paralympics. Pearson’s teammates include veterans Sophie Wells, Debbie Criddle, and Sophie Christiansen.
After a successful 2012, the United States pulled in to fifth place behind number one Great Britain, number two Germany, third ranked Denmark, and number four Canada. The United States hopes to pull into the top three at the 2012 Paralympics to medal both individually and as a team.
Another equestrian that will be defending her individual Gold medal is Lauren Barwick of Canada. At the 2008 Beijing Paralympics Barwick earned a silver medal for her individual test and a gold medal for her outstanding freestyle. The Canadian team has had a remarkable year as a whole and has put forth their top four Para-Dressage athletes for the London Games. The team: anchored by Chef d’Equipe Elizabeth Quigg, Para-Equestrian Barwick in Grade II, Eleonore Elstone in Grade IV, Ashley Gowanlock in Grade II, and Grade Ia rider Jody Schloss with horse Inspector Rebus.
The nominated 78 horse and rider combinations will compete for team gold, silver and bronze which will be calculated based on the top three percentage scores for each country with mixed Grades. The team calculation will include the individual and team test scores. There will be five sets of medals for each grade’s individual test scores in Ia, Ib, II, III, and IV and five sets of medals for each grade’s freestyle test scores.
Past Paralympian Hope Hand who is also President of the United States Para-Equestrian Association will be on the grounds in London rooting on the team and assisting the team when needed. Hope noted, “I am very proud of our team and know that they will represent the United States honorably. The riders and horses have just completed a weeklong training camp in preparation of the stiff competition they will be facing in London. I wish them great success along with having the time of their lives. At the conclusion of the Games, they will all walk away as proud, Paralympians, an honor that will be theirs forever.”
THE UNITED STATES PARALYMPIC EQUESTRIAN TEAM
Information on Live Streaming Paralympic Coverage at Paralympic.org and Television Coverage at NBC Sports Network (information about coverage below was provided by the International Paralympic Committee and was not written by USPEA)
By creating original video content for the US Paralympics YouTube channel, YouTube.com/USParalympics, while also partnering with NBCUniversal and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), US Paralympics will provide the American public with more coverage of the US Paralympic Team than any previous year.
Beginning on 29 August and continuing through the conclusion of the Games on 9 September, US Paralympics will provide 10 daily video highlights packages via its US Paralympics YouTube channel.
In addition to the online content, NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) will air one-hour highlight shows on 4, 5, 6 and 11 September at 7 p.m. EDT. Following the Paralympic Games, on 16 September, NBC will broadcast a 90-minute special from 2-3:30 p.m. EDT. All NBC and NBC Sports Network Paralympic highlight shows and specials will re-air on Universal Sports Network and UniversalSports.com.
During the Games, which start on 29 August, the IPC’s website will have five channels broadcasting live sport each day. Four channels will have English commentary whilst a fifth channel will be available in Spanish.
The website will also feature a revolutionary new SMART player which has been developed by the IPC’s worldwide IT partner Atos. The player uses innovative technology that will enable those watching live swimming and wheelchair basketball on www.paralympic.org to view real-time results tickers, statistics, biographies, news and social media – all in one integrated and synchronized window. It also simplifies the user’s interests and gives specific and relevant results per sport, similar to the ones available to commentators inside the venues.