WELLINGTON THE MAGAZINE – November 2021

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Equestrian Season Preview the logistics were insane, their openness to everyone arriving made the experience pleasant. They ensured the health-monitoring app on my phone was set up correctly, an addition necessary to track everyone’s movements throughout the games. The hotel, sports venue and main press center were the only locations I was allowed to go, and face masks were required everywhere. The app would also alert you if you happened to come in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 in order for you to go into isolation as a precaution. This was followed by a final COVID-19 test and an hour-long wait until my vial number was listed on the negative-results screen. The next few steps were a bit of a blur as jet lag was setting in, but the volunteers ushered me into a taxi to deliver me to my hotel. It was about a 45-minute drive through the city to arrive in Shinjuku, a bustling Tokyo burrow. After a confusing check-in process with my lifesaving Google Translate, I toured what would be my abode for the

next 20 days — a miniature room with an even tinier bathroom, featuring a breathtaking view, hot water and a functioning AC. What more could I need for the work trip of a lifetime? Let The Games Begin — My first full day in Tokyo involved figuring out the complex bus shuttle system with precise timetables and touring the main press center. I picked up taxi vouchers, a camera rain guard from the Canon store and my photographer bib. What it lacked in fashion sense, it certainly made up for with the amount of useful pockets. I also was given 10 self-testing COVID-19 kits, as we had to submit saliva samples daily for the first three days, and then every four days following. As I was only covering the equestrian disciplines, I familiarized myself with the stunning BajiKoen Equestrian Complex and the traditionally decorated stadium. Following the initial horse health inspection and schooling session, my work assignments kicked off full tilt. My personal favorite, the dressage competition, was the first discipline to

take to the arena, and despite the lack of spectators, the environment was electric. I witnessed some less-than-stellar performances, but I also was privileged to watch some of the most harmonious tests I’ve seen in my career. Fan-favorite riders including Jessica von BredowWerndl, Charlotte Dujardin, Isabell Werth and Cathrine Dufour laid down beautiful rides, but as an American, witnessing Sabine Schut-Kery’s rides throughout the week on Sanceo was magical. It was her Olympic debut beside veterans Steffen Peters and Adrienne Lyle, and she wowed everyone with personal bests! She said it best following the U.S. Dressage Team’s historic silver medal win. “I’m so proud of my horse, my team, my owners and the coaches,” Schut-Kery said. “This is my first Olympics, and it has been a really great experience. I’m still a little bit speechless. I am filled with joy and pride, but it’s such a team effort. To deliver for the whole team, not just the riders, but for my coaches and owners, that’s everything. It was a big relief and happiness.”

U.S. show jumpers Laura Kraut, Jessica Springsteen and McLain Ward with their silver medals. PHOTO BY ANNAN HEPNER

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