After forty-one initial “Paris Players” took to the Bercy Arena at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in France, there was one rider that dominated the competition. However, the 2018 title winner (none other than Queen Beezie Madden herself) was part of a larger contingent of athletes that, earning varying levels of individual success, were an impressive and intimidating force representing the red, white, and blue.
Of the 10 Americans that participated in Paris, one would reign supreme, one would come in second (in his first-ever World Cup appearance), and the previous year’s winner – Mclain Ward – would finish just off the podium, in fourth.
Did we mention that 7 of the 10—including World Cup first-timers Andy Kocher, Kristen Vanderveen, Alison Robitaille, and second-placed finisher Devin Ryan—qualified for Sunday’s Jumping Final III? Insert GIF of Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland fist-pumping, here!
“It is unreal. This is a follow-up from winning the World Cup Final last year. To be honest, what is so special about this is that all 10 riders that went into that arena did such a great job,” U.S. Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland shared with USET. “This is what we are all about. To see this level of commitment and dedication and have it work out at the championship level is very exciting. This wasn’t just one rider, not just three in the top four, it was the whole group.”
“It’s pretty unprecedented,” he continued. “I have made World Cup Finals a big priority. I have always felt it is important. We dominated the World Cup back in the 80s and we lost our domination for a lot of years. We have now won four out of the last seven, starting with Rich Fellers back in 2012 and it’s great to be back. This annual competition is very important for our sport. It’s important for us, our sponsors and important for our fans to see where we should be on the world stage.”
By weekend’s end, it was clear that #TeamUSA showed up in full force to demonstrate its depth in seasoned veterans and fresh, hungry athletes. We’re excited to see what the future holds for them.
See the final overall Longines FEI World Cup™ Finals standings at this link.
All photos ©Thomas Reiner