We experienced the changeable London weather in a dramatic way today. Skies were perfectly clear when we started the second dressage day for the three-day event (called “eventing” now but that’s hard for me to say). By late morning it was raining. By noon there were drenching downpours, plus serious thunder and lightning. There was only one brief hold in the dressage, however. We had a piece of heavy plastic we could sit under with all our equipment – phones, laptops, notes, etc.
We finally gave up and moved inside the media center where there were monitors. I could receive email but not send it. Weird. We began to wonder if the lightning had caused the difficulties – whatever the cause, the stories have to be filed, and you have to find some way to do it, which is hard for my non-tech brain to deal with sometimes.
I am working at this Olympics with a great partner, Nicole Winfield, whose usual Associated Press beat is the Vatican in Rome. She’s terrific at all the unusual stuff we have at this Games – royalty, politicians, etc. – and is a whiz at all the various ways to file stories electronically, including with a smart phone. My responsibility is the technical horsey stuff.
So, today some riders got to ride their dressage test in perfect conditions, and some had, well, horse-show weather. Zara Phillips rode early. The U.S. riders were solid but not sparkling, but tomorrow is definitely another day. My husband passed along the info that NBC will be showing four hours of the cross-country tomorrow morning. The feed will be a delay, so you may find a website or get results in real time.
Every time I walk a cross country course and then see horses on course from a monitor, I think that the people watching on TV don’t get the real effect of the terrain and the scope of the jumps. I think that will be the case tomorrow as well. So, if you think the jumps are beautifully designed or the terrain looks tricky, ratchet that impression up several notches. Most of the riders are saying that the course and the jumps are easy (IIII???) if you go slow and of maximum difficulty if you go fast. It’s likely that few if any will get around without time penalties, especially if it rains. This will really put a premium on skill, balance and bravery.
I got a note from Ann Nunn to say hi to Tiana Coudray (of the U.S. team) if I ran into her. Tiana is based in England, and she stayed with the Nunns for several weeks when she was back training in the U.S. Well, there she was when I walked the course, putting on her boots after walking through one of the water jumps, and we had a nice conversation. (Tiana sends a “Hi!” back, Ann).
I also walked a good way of the course with Melanie Smith Taylor, who won team jumping gold in L.A. in 1984, and who does the color commentary for NBC. She was really studying the course in detail, so I expect you’ll hear some good insights from her. I am going to schlep into the Main Press Center in London now to see if I can get a better internet connection and send this along.