I am normally a late sleeper and require loads of sleep! Not this weekend; up and out of the hotel at 6:30 to get to the venue by 7:30. You have to prepare for a long day as even if you have no runs or one run, as a team member you must stay for the whole day. The days are long and things do not usually wind down until around 6 pm. They are also long days for the dogs also who are now crated each day in the "wardrobe".
Friday morning we are up early ready to do the opening ceremonies and then to focus on the task in hand...agility! The supporters are great and it is so cool to hear them cheer when you get on the line and when you finish. I have been a supporter at 3 other world champs (Germany, France and Italy) and loved that too.
The first thing in the morning was the Opening Ceremonies. Basically each country parades in with their flags and their dogs and there is lots of cheering. As with the previous time that I was in the world Champs (Spain) it is this opening ceremony that makes me cry. I don't know why other than it is the sign that all that we have been aiming for is finally beginning. Or maybe it is just the sense of ceremony and the announcing of each country and the cheering of the supporters. Anyway it is the one time I get really emotional!
After all the countries parade in and line up there is the usual speeches and flag changing. When you are down on the floor it is hard to hear what they are saying anyway and this part is pretty boring. This time after all the speeches they had a demonstration of children's gymnastics. Don't ask me why! It was cute but strange and a bit scary when one child fell on her head and practically snapped her neck! I much preferred when Mary Ray come to Spain and did her Heelwork to Music demo!
Competition on Friday started with Large Individual jumping. Sadly Dave A. , Greg D. and Sue R. had faults which basically put you out of competition. It was hard to watch them fall on the first day and it was very discouraging for all of us. Toni, Lee and Lauren all put in clear runs but Toni was the only one in a good position to go for a medal. Sunday would see the second run for the individuals.
Walking the courses at the World Champs is an experience and art in itself. You get exactly eight minutes to walk the course. At some point before they start building the course the team manager has to run down to the office and queue for a course map. He then has to sprint back (or if you are Gwen; you just saunter back) to the "wardrobe" to let the competitors get to know the course on paper. This becomes very important so that your 8 minutes on the course can be used efficiently. It also helps to be able to watch them build and wheel the course(they wheel it to get the Standard Course time) as during this time you can start to formulate your plan so that you are not wandering around the course aimlessly!
As you get ready to walk your course along with all the others, prepare to be knocked down, bumped or jostled! No one watches where they are going and lots of very fast Europeans are usually sprinting around yelling commands to their imaginary dogs. Added to this are the coaches and team managers giving advice; all in all a bit chaotic.
Here is Lee lined up waiting to be let into the course. Notice the green shirted people. They block you from going in too early and then they line up and herd you out at the end. At the end, they make a blocking line and push you right out of the arena! They are very efficient and don't stand for any hassles!
Gwen and Steve are usually out on the course to advise you if needed or just to hear your concerns. This year I asked if Nicky could come out with me and she was very helpful. Also on one course, Alan asked Greg to come out and Greg was a great help to me also. Greg and Nicky have been to the Worlds many times before so they know the need for concise and quick recommendations!
Here is me walking my course with lots of others! That was a tough weave pole entrance after the wall that Zen handled fantastically!
I love this photo of one of the Japanese competitors wearing his head band while walking the course. I am not sure if he ran with it on also!
Once I walk the course I find it helpful to watch some dogs if I am not in too early. A few dogs before you go in either Steven or Gwen will come to the room to walk with you to the collecting ring. In the collecting ring you can have neither food nor toys and that was very strict this year; they even questioned our team members fleecy leads. AND one competitor (Sylvia Trickman and her awesome medium Pyr Shep) were unfairly(in my opinion) disqualified after a clear fast run for giving the dog a treat AFTER their run in the exit arena. Scary stuff!
Here is Nicky and Indy before their run with Steve in the background for any assistance. Nicky is Miss Cool and Collected as usual. Indy was a star and handled himself so well.
Once in the collecting ring it is just you and your dog and show time begins!