We're back with another installment of Team Talk on the USEA Podcast this week! Nicole Brown is joined again by US Equestrian High Performance Director Erik Duvander and US Equestrian Developing and Emerging Rider Coach Leslie Law. On our first Team Talk episode, Brown and Duvander chatted about how the high performance riders have been staying busy during the competition shutdown caused by COVID-19 and how the delay of the Olympic Games to 2021 will affect the U.S. team. This week, it's all about the developing riders - riders who have come up the pipeline in the pursuit of landing a spot on a senior team.
Law introduces himself to our listeners and explains a bit about his role as US Equestrian's Developing and Emerging Rider Coach, which means he focuses his energy on the young and developing riders that have been named to the USEF Training Lists as part of the Eventing Pathway Program. Riders apply for this program and then participate in two days of assessments early in the year. Typically the Emerging and Developing Rider Lists include 12 to 15 riders each.
Duvander shares that, at the moment, the Elite List is quite small while the Pre-Elite List is larger, with the goal of developing more of those Pre-Elite riders to the Elite list. Unfortunately this year, due to COVID-19, there haven't been competitions where Pre-Elite riders can demonstrate their form and skill for a possible shift to that Elite list.
Law had plans to travel to visit the riders on the Developing List and work with them one-on-one this spring, but COVID-19 threw a wrench in those plans. Instead, Law has been doing virtual training using the EquiRatings OnForm virtual coaching app - he sends out a new set of exercises every 10 days and then the riders take video of themselves performing the exercises. They then send the video back to Law, who is able to review it and provide training advice in the form of a voice-over.
One of the coaching challenges in the U.S. is the sheer size of the country, so virtual coaching presents an exciting opportunity for riders to get feedback without the coach needing to be physically present. More recently, Law has been traveling along the East Coast working with some of his riders, and Duvander, who has been out West, has been able to "pick up the slack" and work with some of Law's riders in addition to the Elite and Pre-Elite List members.
One of the tools Law and Duvander have created to help give the developing riders experience in a team setting is the US Equestrian Futures Team Challenges. Riders apply for the opportunity to be chosen to either Team Leslie or Team Erik, which allows the coaches to simulate a team competition at an existing event. This fall there will be two Futures Team Challenges - one on the East Coast in Unionville, Pennsylvania later this week, and one on the West Coast in Temecula, California at the end of October. Click here to find out who was named to "Team Leslie" and "Team Erik" for the Futures Team Challenge in Unionville.
While the competition is friendly and meant to provide an educational experience for the riders, for Law and Duvander it's another story. Duvander's team won both Futures Team Challenge competitions last year - maybe 2020 will be Law's year!
To close out the episode, Ariel Grald comes on to chat about her previous experience on a team at a Futures Team Challenge and her partner, Leamore Master Plan.