The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is often considered “Switzerland” when it comes to decisions regarding the Olympic Games. Usually the USEA follows with the opinions and decisions of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) except in this instance. The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) has proposed some new changes to the sport of Eventing, and this time the USEA has something to say about it.
In discussions regarding the 2020 Olympic Agenda, hosted in San Juan, Puerto Rico, many radical changes were proposed according to horsecollaborative.com:
- A cap of three team members across the three disciplines, thereby increasing the number of flags at the Olympic Games
- Removing team drop scores
- Separate individual and team events
- Several sport specific recommendations
- A total of 15 teams and 15 individual athletes
- Heats to qualify the top 18 for the individual final
- 20 teams and 15 individuals
- A jump-off for first place in both individual and team
- All three team horse/rider combinations competing against the clock, if team gold is decided by a jump-off, with only the best score being counted
- The top 10 teams starting with zero penalties in the medal-deciding final
- The dressage phase would be condensed to a single day using a shorter test
- The individual jumping phase would be used as the qualifier for the top six or seven teams to go through to the team final
- All three team members could potentially be in the arena together, jumping one after another, so that a team result would be instantly available
- An alternative name, such as “Equestrian Triathlon,” could be introduced to improve understanding of the sport for a mainstream audience
In response to these proposals, the USEA composed a public article regarding their stance on each issue. The USEA had a “point by point response to the FEI Eventing Committee’s Summary of Proposals for 2017 Rules for Eventing Revision.” In summary of their response, the USEA was not happy with the FEI’s changes, stating that the changes may have been proposed without thorough consideration. In their conclusion to the article the USEA openly stated, “Should the FEI move forward with all of the proposals as outlined and deviate from the recommendations as outlined by the USEF, the USEA and other major National Governing Bodies of the sport, we will need to reconsider whether risking the integrity of the sport of Eventing justifies remaining a part of the Olympic Games.”
The next Equestrian Olympic Games are in 2020, and depending on the final decisions of the FEI, it will be interesting to see what the USEA decides to do.
You can read the USEA’s full response to the FEI here at http://useventing.com/news/usea-response-fei-proposals-0.