The Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) Chief Operating Officer, Sharon Decker, and FEI Secretary General, Sabrina Ibanez, held a press conference this evening at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) to update the media about the impending hurricane and other concerns.
On the location of TIEC in relation to the evacuation zone for Hurricane Florence:
“We are 300 to 400 miles away from the mandatory evacuation areas. They are evacuating the coast lines of South Carolina and North Carolina and we are inland some 350 miles. We have become the safe harbor for horses affected by tropical systems like this. Last year there was a storm that came up the coast of Florida and we took in around 600 horses and all of their families for about four days as the storm passed.
We are in an interesting place from a weather standpoint. This region in the foothills of North Carolina is called the isothermal zone. Basically we are sitting in a bowl of mountains. It creates a very interesting weather pattern. The temperature is a little more moderate - usually 5 degrees cooler than Charlotte; 5 degrees warmer than Asheville. It is the reason that Facebook has their largest data center in the country about 12 miles from here, and why the state of North Carolina has their back-up data center in the same location. It doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t get some wind and rain, but typically storms like this don’t impact us in a significant way. In my time here we have only postponed one event because of storms.”
On staying safe:
“Obviously if there is thunder and lightning we will not be active in any rings. Our first priority is safety for horses, safety for our riders, and safety for all of you. We do have a number of locations on the property to take shelter from the hurricane including our 300,000 square feet of covered arena, the media center, and the basement of the Legends lobby. Plenty of safe places for us here. We are able to move people to safe places very easily. We have a very robust plan and we are working with public safety officers. There are plenty of ways we can handle this.”
On communicating about the potential weather problems:
“We have a permanent weather station here at Tryon. In addition we are contact with the National Weather Service and they are providing information about the weather every six hours. This information will be provided to the athletes, grooms, and spectators well in advance. As you know this is an outdoor sport, so when it comes to contingency plans they are robust.”
On FEI experience with bad weather and Championships:
“This is not the first time we have had adverse weather conditions. You may remember we have had to change our competition schedules in the past – in Normandy for dressage and in London for the Olympics. This is something that we are used to. These systems are in place when it comes to the competition schedule.”
“If there were any delays in times or days tickets would be honored. Up-to-date there have been no changes in flights for horses coming in.”
On footing with the wet weather:
“When it comes to the footing – I am pleased to say we have fantastic footing and scientifically proven to being the best, so we are very confident when it comes to the drainage.”
On the cross-country course and the weather:
“The length of the cross-country course really is something that the FEI can consider changing due to the weather – we have that in our possibility. This will be reviewed when the rainfall comes and communicated way in advance. The plan depends on the amount of rainfall. Either making cross-country shorter or we could move the date of the competition itself. There are lots of possibilities.”
On TIEC still being under construction:
“When we took on the Games we had big ideas and big dreams and still do. This is not a one-time event. This is a long-term facility with a grand vision for bringing horse sport from around the world. We started down the path with less than 22 months to go and a lot we weren’t able to accomplish. Priority was given to the sport – the preparation of the courses. We lost a tremendous amount of time with rain and heat. We just got behind and we will continue after this event is finished.”
On the Grooms Housing:
“We have very few people in the tent now. We had a dozen more RVs delivered today. The tent was never a part of the original plan. We have relocated anyone who wants to be. We have some alternatives. No one has to stay there – happy to make a change.”
Text WEG2018 to 888777 for weather updates or read www.tryon2018.com.