Monday, August 13, 2007

Final day - stadium- CATASTROPHE

Yes, my bloggin friends back, on the final day of competition, disaster struck. Security got beefed up a bit and, opposite of every other day this week, THEY TOOK AWAY MY DIET COKE AT THE SECURITY CHECKPOINT. Can you believe them...I called in and told them the show would not go on......somehow that got lost in the translation, and my cans of lifeblood were taken away.......needless to say,,,,I ,,,,,was......rather,,,,,,decaffeinated.....and.....well.....not able to keep focused.....and.....where was I now again?

The sun came out today for the first time!! We really believed it was just a Chinese sky painting tho, until we actually went outside into it and WHAM!! Folks, let me tell you , no one has experienced humidity until you get here on a hot , sunny day. just start dripping going out the door of the hotel. I finally got some pics of a nice day and the arena at night when we actually did the show jumping. The course as you can see was beautifully decorated and looked great. A nice crowd was on hand to watch all the riders. The local (national) riders went first and handled the course pretty well. Couple of rails and one horse had two refusals (and was eliminated). Best was the rider on a very green (inexperienced, for you golf guys) horse who flew around the course and one strided the two -stride in and out!! Didn't have any time faults either!

The international group went last and we started them about 8:30pm...they wanted to go at the same time as the Olympians will next summer. It looks really great under the lights and the horses all took to it well. Our US riders had and up/down kind of night: Buck D had two double clear rounds on his horse , and poor Laine crashed into the first, had a couple of additional rails, but came back in the second round (after getting the honor of walking the course with George Morris (the show jumping guru, for you golf guys) and almost went clear, but dropped only one.

The Germans took the night and the Aussie was third. One of the German riders is in the military and he of course wore his uniform which is really impressive. When the German anthem was played and he is saluting the flag from the podium, well, that's what it is all about, let me tell you. I only wish we had an officer or military rider for the looks terrific. The presentation of the medals was Olympic calibre, with Chinese dancers in beautiful costumes, red carpets laid out everywhere , and the president of the FEI, the Princess Haya , all decked out in a fantastic green dress, which made her really shine. Top level Chinese govt officials, Bejjing dignitaries, and Olympic VIP's really made it special. I think they are all ready and after talking to many of the workers, the experienced FEI olympic staff members, and some of the organizers, I think everyone is very proud of the week here. We are all ready to come home has been a very long week. Nonetheless, I think next summer will be very special for the Chinese and, being the very proud people they are, they have stepped up to the plate, and have hit a much more important home run here ,than Barry Bonds did in San Fran., and are full of smiles and congratulations.

Just to cap off the week here (Tues 8am): it is raining again..............SO WITH MY COKE LIGHT IN HAND HERE IN THE HOTEL, I will sign off till I get back. It has been fun writing to y'all and I will be home on Wed night. Mr. Morra, my phone number is 703-980-3426....use it! To all my golf buds....I found out that the membership to the Hong Kong Golf course, on which the cross country course is set, starts at $1 million US, and that is just the wait list. Greens fees for guests....$2000.00. I think I will save up and just raise our golf wagers from a $2 nassau to $5...any takers? Bring it on!!!

See y'all soon,


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Cross-country and water polo!!

Well cross country day started with, what else , at least an inch of pouring rain. Getting tired of this let me tell you. We got to the course and it rained so hard for the hour prior to starting that you couldn't see the jumps. All the workers were out in their positions and had to stand out in the rain, ponchos and all. By the way, David and I have come up with the official uniforms for next year: shorts, ponchos (with the corresponding country logo), and crokks (the plastic sandal shoes)!! We get off the busses and have to hike down to the course and you get soaked, feet and all. So I wore my sandals (have done so every day), which got soaked, and then changed into my running shoes once inside the control building.

The start was delayed for about 15 min and then it did indeed stopped raining. The radios, and communications were much better today and things really went well. The course rode great and the footing was superb. They have installed drains, drain tiles, and whatever , on the Olympic course that apparently can withstand and inch an hour all day! The actual track of the course follows the rough of the golf course mostly so there is really little damage to the beautiful golf course here. Can't wait to come back and play someday!!! Fore...

No problems with horses or any major events on the day...couple of run outs and falls or holds or anything like that. The misting fans were turned on at the start of the day and caused so much FOG they had to be turned off. There is so much humidity in the air that the ice melts in the water buckets and causes is really strange. So much water in the air already that there is no benefit from the misters......The day was wet and cloudy so the vets didn't really get a feel for what would happen if there was a sunny really hot day....much for them to talk about regarding next year. There are provisions for the Olympic schedule to be flexible in case of the typhoons tho....

Our announcing went really well and Giles (from UK) and I got into a good rhythm taking alternative horses...I of course got to do both of the US riders! Laine's horse was a bit rank and had run outs at the double brush corners and then she went really slow after that. Much to the consternation of the US observers and coach and vets....Buck had a clear with a few time faults, and did a good job. Only one horse made the time, but the course was very tight and twisty and it was only by luck that the German made it ....everyone else had just a few time faults. The site is really super and I think everyone was very pleased with the outcome. Considering that many of the Chinese workers had never even seen horses or this kind of was a great day.

We finished off the day with a nice dinner with the US contingency at their hotel overlooking the Honk Kong harbor (photos attached) where they do a terrific light show (a la Disney) with all the skyscrapers lighting up with multi colored lights and lazers!! This happens each night at 8pm and on Sat they have fireworks (which I missed, living on the other side of the city, where us peons have to stay)....the hotels all around the harbor play the soundtrack for the light show inside each really is neat.

Well, show jumping tonight under the lights....and the awards Olympic style...podiums and all. I will let you know how it goes tomorrow. Off to the mall, to see what Chinese shopping is all about!!

Brian 10AM Monday

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sat - dressage

well we really got started today. Up at 5:30 to catch the bus over to the arena...oh, by the way we never really got hit by the typhoon. The warning was lifted at midnight and the winds went away. But we have had about 4-5 inches of rain since I got here three days ago! It just never lets and on all day and night long. And sometimes it really comes down in buckets......our rehearsal for cross country yesterday was a poured all day long! If it had not been 80 degrees with the rain, we would have all frozen.

Anyway back to Sat dressage....the day went extremely well considering most people here had never seen it before. the stewards were great as were the ring crew etc. The scoring got going after about the 3rd horse and then was very quick. We have a huge scoreboard and you can see thing very clearly, thru the pouring rain. Did I say that is is wet as hell here and it does nothing but rain? The ring (see attached photos, if I can make it happen) is really super...not a puddle in sight. they have installed a terrific drainage system and I am not kidding there is no water in the main ring at all. the surface is sand, with small felt pieces and some sort of mineral oil as the binder. This will be the new surface all over the planet, cuz it is that good.

The international horses seemed to go OK,,,Buck and Laine put in fairly good tests and are in the middle of the pack. One of the Germans is leading on a 48 and everyone else is in the middle and low 50's. We had the full lights on in the stadium all day long! Giles and I split up the two divisions for announcing and we will both do the cross country tomorrow...yeah! Not just a DQ for me folks.....We also have a super college student doing the Cantonese announcing and she is really good. Never announced before and she is a total pro....must be her co-announcer rubbing, not the British one .......

We hope for a good day tomorrow and we hope that all the radios work properly and don't drift off channels...big problem, especially when we have multiple languages to deal with too. Funniest thing so far: in the rehearsal for cross country, where the "riders" are actually people driving golf carts around the course with specific scenarios on paper that they hand to the judges when something is supposed to go wrong (i.e. golf cart stops by the jump, and says, I have fallen off here after a refusal, etc) one of the radio reports comes in from one of the Chinese fence judges: " Fence number 12....rider has fallen...rider broken!" Of course he meant that the rider is hurt and needs the doctor...we all lost it in the control building!! Hopefully we will have a safe and dry day tomorrow.....

If the photos work out they are of the following: main arena (check out the high rise apts right beside us), jump 1 on the cross country course (small panda bears on the side), and our control building and set up....more tomorrow...I hope you are enjoying this reporting. See ya, Brian

Thursday, August 9, 2007

days 2,3...TYPHOON!!

3 PM local time: Yes, folks we are in the middle of a typhoon warning (just after finishing the test cross country morning). If this level 8 typhoon (equivalent to a severe 50-60 mph thunderstorm with tons of rain) hits all business and acitivities stop. We do not know what will happen this afternoon for the horse inspection...luckily they do have an indoor arena for us to use today. We are just waiting to hear what is up...

The morning at the cross country test was so wet you wouldn't believe it. It dumped buckets of rain on the whole work force. We used golf carts (as horses) for the fence judges and medical staff etc. to judge. Very interesting morning. There were many comunication problems what with the rain and all, language problems too, with all the radios and officials etc. That is what we are testing!

The competition sites are really superb. The main arena is right in the middle of town at the end of the huge racecourse. Great footing, the stables are air conditioned and the warm up rings are plentiful and really close to the barns and main arena. The sound system is huge and sounds great...I will have to tell that guy at Speakeasy that he will have to purchase a new and upgraded system now!! The Chinese have spent a lot of money on the right things here and the staff is all very helpful and willing to make this a wonderful weekend. It's just too bad about the weather. Just think of a huge racecourse on the Mall in DC and then attach a 5000 seat stadium with lights and all at the end of it. The racecourse (all grass track) has seating for over 40,000 and they tell me at each day of racing (EACH DAY) the bettting gross is the same as week of racing at one of our tracks! Can you imaging the millions?

The hotel accomodations are really nice and the food here is really great. I have not had a bad meal yet...even at the horse show! A full service Chinese menu and all....I was even complimented by our boss on my ease of use of chopsticks. Thanks Suzanne....

The one thing that I have not been able to fix yet is the time change. Sleeping and eating are a real challenge when you 1)wake up at 2 am and cannot get back to sleep, and 2) find out that I can eat a huge breakfast (when I usually don't have any at home). The 12hr time change is not easy to adjust to...maybe some more Chinese beer tonight will help. Yes, let's sit out on the veranda, watch the typhoon and chill!

For my golf guys: the cross country course is situated on one of the prettiest golf courses I have seen, and yes, it kills me to see horses galloping on this wonderfully green and lush golf course. New meaning to long drive! Wait till they see what happens after Sunday....divot and muddy central.

Well, I have to go see what's up....well, looking out at the main ring, right now, they have just removed (yes removed) the entire dressage arena...lock stock and barrel. I think we are done for the day my friends. Well, I will update you later if I can. I think they take this typhoon stuff seriously...well, I float away till later.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

day 1

Well Iam finally here in very wet Hong Kong! 15 hrs from Chicago and I got the business class upgrade. Let me tell you it is worth every mile!! Good food, huge seats, lots of reading , and we arrived in the middle of a huge thunderstorm (typhoon may be here tomorrow!!) No kidding. Lightning was hitting all around us in the mountains as we came down. The highrises here are right at the base of the mountains and next to the water...really amazing. I had to wait an hour for my bags because they shut the airport down due to the weather!! I hope this thing misses us...try eventing in the typhoon. Makes the water jumps look easy.

I am 12 hrs ahead of EST so it is time to crash. I've got my credentials and will be off to the site tomorrow for rehearsals. We had lots of hospitality folks to greet us, get us on our way, and they are very accomodating. Hope to see the town tomorrow night. More from the China sea, maybe literally, tomorrow night (am for all you guys)

See ya,