US (gold) jumping for joy

By Margaret Freeman
Associated Press / August 19, 2008
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HONG KONG - The United States won the Olympic equestrian gold medal in team show jumping yesterday in a timed jumpoff against its northern neighbor Canada.

The US was tied for first with Switzerland after the first round Sunday, with Canada tied for fourth.

But Mac Cone's mount Ole was hurt in the Sunday round, leaving Canada with only three riders yesterday, meaning it was not able to drop its worst score.

The Canadians had two clears and one four-fault ride in the main round. Their anchor was Ian Millar, 61, riding in his ninth Olympics. His experience gave a smooth ride to In Style and no faults, forcing the jumpoff.

Laura Kraut had the only clear ride on Cedric for the US in the main round, leading her team into the jumpoff where she also went clear. The US and Canada both finished that round with 20 faults.

Norway took bronze with 27 faults.

"Each night here he and I have both gotten more relaxed," said Kraut about Cedric. "He always has energy. He's really smart and always tries."

Canadian Eric Lamaze went clear in the jumpoff.

"You do what you can in a situation like that," said Lamaze. "We've pulled it together and we're a good team."

The first three US riders all had clean rounds in the jumpoff, while one Canadian rider dropped a rail.

In the main round, US riders McLain Ward had four faults on Sapphire, Will Simpson had eight faults on Carlsson vom Dach, while Beezie Madden also had four faults on Authentic.

Ward and Madden also won team gold on the same horses in 2004 in Athens.

The heavily favored German team was never a factor in the competition and finished fifth with 34 faults. Last week the Germans won three golds in equestrian eventing and dressage.

In addition to Millar, Jill Henselwood went clear for Canada in the main round on Special Ed although she dropped a rail in the jumpoff.

Lamaze had four faults in the main round on Hickstead.

The team competition also served as a qualifying competition for the individual competition, which will be held Thursday.

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