In today’s world, everyone who wanted to know knew within seconds that the US team won a silver medal and Tucker Johnson won the individual bronze medal. As wonderful as technology is, I can assure you that it doesn’t take the place of being here and seeing it in person!
After being here for six days, there is an interesting camraderie among the driving fans and in my case, the media covering driving. (There are over 1000 accredited media here.) We all have our routines down. In my case, after departing the media shuttle in the campground area, I go to the Media Village for a cup of coffee and to pick up the latest schedules, maps, etc. Then I wait for a hospitality volunteer to take me and others up to the driving stadium in a golf cart. (It’s up hill going up, so I save myself to walk back.) Then I go up the back stairs to the sky box section reserved for the media. There are tables and electric so journalists can file their stories. I join Mike Arnold there who keeps on top of everything and posts the latest to Driving News. Then I head down to the area beneath the stadium seating to the section reserved for photographers which runs along the length of the stadium.
Bill Long was the first to drive since he was unfortunately eliminated on the marathon. This was not to be his day either. He went from cone 6 to 8 without going through 7. Next to go was Casey Zubek, also eliminated on the marathon. One of his horses ran over the white 12C marker. When the whistle blew so it could be reset, he didn’t stop but continued on through 12,14,1 5, 16, 17. So he was also eliminated.
The time allowed way 2 minutes 7 seconds, and it was a very tight course. There were few opportunities to make up time. 15,16, 17 were very tight and drivers had to drive straight into a corner where there was a judges booth set, and the crowd on either side, before making a sharp turn to get to 15.
A break had been planned after the first 15 drivers went, but there was a glitch in the electronic timer so there were some delays while they tried to fix it. Twice drivers were asked to leave the arena and wait until it was fixed. Chester Weber had to leave twice. Then it was announced that they were going to time it manually and that grooms would be allowed to carry their own stop watches and talk to the driver. So there was a delay while they were allowed to go and get their stopwatches. Then apparently the electric timer was fixed, and Chester was allowed to drive, after about a half hour delay.
It was worth the wait. He had the first double clear round of the day, and then Jim Fairclough followed him and had the second double clear round of the day!
Tomas Eriksson who had such a strong marathon yesterday went through 19 backward and thus lost the bronze medal for the Swedish team. The German team who moved into that place, said at the press conference that they didn’t like to win a medal that way, but that was the game.
Tucker Johnson, sitting in bronze medal position, had one ball down but no time penalties so he secured the silver medal for the US team. Chardon hit 12 C, but was within the time. This four-time World Champion knows how to play the game, and secured the gold medal for The Netherlands. Boyd Exell had no course faults, but had 3.54 time penalties, but it was good enough to give him his first gold medal. Chardon would take the individual silver.
They presented the marathon ribbons and then the cones ribbons to the top 10 drivers so there were victory laps over and over. Then the individual medals were presented followed by the team medals.
All the medal winners then went directly to a press conference, and then had to line up for closing ceremonies. It was fun to see the drivers walk into the main stadium with their flags waving. I’m sure they would rather have been back in the stable celebrating with their crews, but it was only 4 o’clock, so I think they’ll have plenty of time yet tonight.
Yesterday 44,954 people came through the gate, bringing the total to 468,340. The driving stadium was sold out for cones, but I haven’t found out yet exactly how many that is.
It was a great week, and everyone I talked to agreed.