Olympic Show Jumping Team Wins Silver for the United States

Athens, Greece - The United States found the "silver lining" in what turned out to be a nail-biting, stomach-churning jump-off between the States and the Swedes for the silver and bronze Olympic medals. Germany clinched the gold in the evening's competition but the Swedes and United States were left tied for second at 20 faults each. According to the rules, a jump-off for the silver and bronze would determine the medal standings.

In the four-on-four jump-off, Team USA was up seven-plus seconds with three riders (Peter Wylde, McLain Ward, and Chris Kappler) having all posted clear rounds on the shortened course. The Swedes (Peter Ericksson, Peder Frederickson, and Malin Baryard) determined that they could not match the U.S. time. The United States brings home a sweet silver medal for the team's valiant efforts. The final Team results: Germany--gold; United States--silver (in a repeat of the 1988 Seoul and 1996 Atlanta Olympics); and Sweden, the bronze medal. It was the first team medal for Sweden since the 1928 Games in Amsterdam.

The members of the U.S. Show Jumping team are Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, N.Y.; Wylde, a Massachusetts native and a resident of Maastricht, The Netherlands; Kappler of Pittstown, N.J.; and Ward of Brewster, N.Y.

Sixty-three entries that were individual riders not representing a competing team rode first. A short break was set before the team medal riders began their efforts, which counted for both the team medal and qualified competitors to move on to Friday's individual competition.

First up for the States were Wylde and his mare Fein Cera. After posting an uncharacteristic 12 faults in the second round, he was admittedly disappointed. But this all changed with a silver medal at stake in the jump-off.

Wylde was at the in-gate when he realized that there would be no need for a final rider in the jump-off. "One of our helpers had the times [of the various jump-off rounds]. We were adding the times together, wondering if Beezie was going to have to ride. If we were fast enough," he said. "Just when we were doing that…Hank [a member of the Swedish team] came forward and said,'We would like to request for Rolf [the last of the Swedish riders] not to have to ride.'" The considerable lead of the U.S. riders wasn't worth the risk or danger of sending the final rider out to try to beat that time. This decision was unanimous by the Swedish team.

After another faultless round in the regular competition, placing her team in medal contention, Madden was ready to go into the jump off last when she quickly realized she did not have to go around for a second trip of the night and a wide smile spread across her face. The team silver medal was coming home with her and her teammates.

"Well, actually I didn't know what position we were in until I got to the gate," said Madden. Basically, to be in a better position, I had to go clear. I have a lot of faith in my horse, who is fantastic. But, [after] the first round, I had no reason to believe he would be any different, especially after warming up. I was fairly confident," she said. Madden is the only rider in Athens who goes into the Friday Individual Final with no faults.

Speaking on behalf of the team, the night's third rider in the jump-off, Kappler observed, "We've been lucky to work together [as a team]…and we've been here since June. The four of us have been working together a long time for this, and really looking forward to it."

Ward was in great spirits a disappointing eight faults aboard his mare Sapphire in the round prior to the jump-off. When asked about his feelings in facing the Swedish team in the battle for silver and bronze, he quipped, "Well…I'd rather have faced the Germans [for the gold]."

"As the class progressed, I think we saw it shaping that there was a strong possibility of facing a jump-off," Ward continued. "Obviously it was great for Peter and I, but Beezie and Chris had such strong performances, and when we finally did get in the jump-off, I'm glad that Peter and I could contribute so much to the team."

Ward "tipped his riding helmet" to the Swedish team. "It was a great jump-off. The Swedes performed beautifully. We just happened to go a little faster."

The individual medal final will be contested on Friday--the last equestrian medal to be awarded at the 2004 Athens Games.


2004 Athens Olympic Show Jumping Final Team Standing:

(Medal / Country / Team Faults / Jump Off-Time with 3 riders going)

Gold – Germany – 8 faults

Christian Ahlmann / Coster

Marco Kutscher / Montender

Otto Becker / Cento

Ludger Beerbaum / Goldfever

Silver – USA – 20 faults – 131.09 seconds

Peter Wylde / Fein Cera

McLain Ward / Sapphire

Chris Kappler / Royal Kaliber

Beezie Madden / Authentic

Bronze – Sweden – 20 faults – 138.48 seconds

Peder Frederickson / Magic Bengtsson

Rolf-Goran Bengtsson / Mac Kinley

Peter Eriksson / Cardento

Malin Baryard / Butterfly Flip

 

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