Ten national teams took to the arena to take their turn around Santiago Varela’s colorful course in the team jumping team medal final to wrap the final day of equestrian competition in the Tokyo Olympics. The teams competing in the final were: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Great Britain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United States of America.
All teams started the final round with a clean slate (previous faults from the qualifier did not carry forward). However, the team scores from the qualifying round determined the order of go.
If there was one team with a clear lead on faults after the third rider from each team jumped, then that nation would be the winner. If two or more teams were tied for the top spot, then there would be a jump off.
Riding last for the USA, McLain Ward riding Contagious jumped a clear round after Laura Kraut riding Baloutinue and Jessica Springsteen on Don Juan van de Donkhoeve had 0 and 4 faults, respectively. Ward had a clear round in the final section of riders. The USA and Sweden finished their final rounds with team scores tied at 4 faults each.
France was last to go, with only 2 time faults against the team score after two riders had gone. A clear round would mean gold. Unfortunately, two refusals at the triple combination for France’s final horse and rider, Penelope Leprevost and Vancouver de Lanlore, resulted in elimination and dropped their team completely out of the running.
This meant the USA and Swedish teams returned to jump off for gold and silver. Belgium had already secured the bronze and did not need to jump any further rounds.
The jump off provided the best stretch of faultless competition seen all week. Kraut from the U.S. was first to go and set the mark to beat with her second clear round of the night. Sweden’s Henrick Eckermann and King Edward answered with another clear round that was slightly faster.
Springsteen demonstrated her skill in timed jump-offs with a clear round and another fast time. Then, Sweden’s Malin Baryard-Johnsson and Indiana also had a clear round, but with a speed that gave Sweden a slight edge on cumulative time.
Next up was Ward in the anchor (final) round for the USA. He and Contagious made a crisp and tight route with all of the shortcuts and ground speed needed to push the competition to another level. It was a clear round with the fastest of the five rides in the jump-off up to that point. The USA was in the lead based on time.
Finally, Sweden’s Fredricson and All In entered the ring and needed to put in a clear round and a blistering time faster than the 40.3 seconds to claim the best cumulative team time. All week the Swedish team had shown they could jump clear, but Ward had given them a high bar on the time to beat.
Fredrickson and All In delivered exactly the trip they needed over the jump-off. They clinched the gold for Sweden with a breathtaking clear round, barely beating the time needed for the win by less than 1 second.
Six clear rounds in the jump off was a spectacular way to finish the competition. Sweden got the gold, the USA the silver, and Belgium the bronze.
The organizing committee for the Tokyo Olympic Games deserves much praise for pulling off this event during such a difficult time during a worldwide pandemic. The volunteers and staff did a great job and the competition was sensational. Next stop, Paris 2024!
See the full results of the Jumping Team Medals Round at the Tokyo Olympics.
By Kim and Allen MacMillan