Nicole Brown is joined by USEF Eventing High Performance Director Erik Duvander and USEF Managing Director of Eventing Jenni Autry for an update on U.S. High Performance - the first of a regular segment which will follow the U.S. Eventing team's journey on the road to Tokyo 2021.
Duvander and Autry lead off the episode by introducing themselves to our listeners and explaining a bit about their roles with the USEF. Together the pair are tasked with envisioning the road map forward for high performance eventing in the United States. Duvander is backed by an Advisory Board of key players in the eventing world and Autry has a strong team in the USEF office supporting the high performance team.
Autry shares what the COVID-19 shutdown looked like from her perspective - it included a lot of wait-and-see planning and creative thinking to maintain the program's momentum and shift to accommodate all the changes due to COVID-19.
According to Duvander, the shutdown has actually given riders the chance to focus in a way they don't usually have the opportunity to in the middle of the season, and the extra time to prepare for Tokyo 2021 will only be to the team's benefit.
The stress riders undergo when they compete at an Olympic Games or a championships can be substantial, and Duvander observed that the stress and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have demonstrated the exceptional strength of character of the U.S. high performance athletes.
Autry reviews the changes to the qualification process for Tokyo 2021 and what riders who have already qualified will need to do to maintain their qualifications. Duvander examines the chances rider will have to earn those qualifications this fall, which include Morven Park, Galway Downs, Ocala Jockey Club, and Les 5 Étoiles de Pau.
Autry discusses some of the logistical considerations that go into planning for transporting the horses to an Olympic Games.
In closing, Duvander considers the advantages of having championships in back-to-back years, which will happen in 2021 and 2022 with the Olympics and World Eventing Championships. As the High Performance Director, Duvander doesn't just work with the riders' listed horses, but all the horses in their string, so he has a good sense of the horses coming up the pipeline for future championships.