A Canadian supporter perspective of the 2011 FCI World Agility Championships in Lievin, France; with a special Dynamo focus on our own Teri and Cypher, competing for Canada in the Medium Division.
- We made it!
After hours and hours (or was it days?) of planes, buses, and automobiles, we finally made it to France, and the Lievin area hotels. Travelling to see the competition are myself (Seanna), John (Meme's dad) and Justine Davenport (former member of the Canadian team with Bounder, Chase, and Riot).
We got to the airport on Sunday morning about 9:00 am. Things were going smoothly until Teri realized she hadn't brought any shoes, which could prove a bit problematic (flip flops work fine for travel and tourism, but might not be the best competition wear). So we put in a call to Kirstin, still at home, to grab the shoes, pack Dominick up and run to the airport to meet us with the shoes. After waiting for an hour inside, outside, inside, outside, it turned that Kirstin had grabbed the shoes, packed Dominick up, and and come to the airport; but couldn't find us, and so had taken the shoes back home.
So it seems that some of our pre competition tourism will be shoe shopping! 🙂
We changed planes with a bit of a stopover in Toronto, where I found a couple of other Canadian t-shirts to show Canadian support for our incredible team (no place better than an airport for finding Canadianism and overspending!). Met up with some more of the Canadians in the Toronto airport (the Quebec contingent flew from Montreal) and were of on the next leg to Paris. (Battery is low, so trying to update quickly)
We had an incredibly easy time getting the rental can in Paris and after some false starts trying to figure out how to find reverse on the gear shift (it is NOT self evident and there are no "how to use the gear shift instructions in the glove box!) and after several trips around the tricky circuitous and sometimes downright scary (at least for those in the passeger and back seats :- ) ) airport roads, with some pretty scary Parisian airport drivers cutting in and out at breakneck speed, we finally found the team bus still sitting at the airport loading the team.
So we were able to follow the team bus across France, and didn`t have to depend too much on John`s brand new gps, which will get get a work out later on in the trip when we only have our own navigational skills to get us through France, Belgium, Germany and the Czech Republic.
There was one notable stop at a little town along the way. It was one of those towns that if you blink you might miss it entirely, but there was a restaurant on the side of the road, and by this time everyone was feeling the hunger, so we stopped for a bite to eat. It was AWESOME. The food was SO GOOD! There were only a couple of other people in the place, so the Canadian team got the full attention of the only person there who seemed to be on staff. Not sure if he was cooking too, but he seemed to be pretty much in charge of everything else. We did manage to get a card from the place, and it is definately a stop I would recommend to anyone coming through that area of France.
After our lunch stop we headed back out, and with only one more stop for groceries, we all arrived at the team hotel. (Because we booked late, John, Justine, and I are staying in a hotel about 1/2 hour away from the Canadian team hotel). With still a couple of hours before we could reasonably call it a night, John Justine, Teri, and I decided to grab the car and head into nearby Arras. the folks at the front desk said it was a right turn at the first lights, then another right after two lights and we would be there, so it seemed easy.
We started down the road they had indicated and we soon came to a dead end (no lights) with a do not enter in front, an alley to the right, and a road to the left. So we went left, realizing that we were already way off track. Only a couple of blocks away we came across a woman just leaving her car, who was obviously just getting home. Since it seemed that she lived in, and so must know the area, we stopped to ask for directions. Imagine our surprise when she not only gave us directions, but actually offered to hop in the car and show us the way! So we squeezed her into the car and led us to the center of the beatiful town of Arras, through a maze of streets that the gps would have had difficulty making heads or tails of. But we found our way, parked, and for the next two hours our new Parisian friend led us on a walking tour of the town with talking points about particular points of interest.
The day was a really wonderful introduction to the wonderful country that is France, its people, its cuisine, its history and its rather suicidal drivers! 🙂
On to tomorrow!
(for those who wanted to set up live streaming from the Worlds, so they can watch the competition as it happens, the link is here... http://www.agilityworldchampionshiplievin2011.tv/mailing1/)
- 2nd day in France
Today started with a visit to Vimy Ridge, which was sad but educational. The bus offloaded the Canadians and they started to explore the tourist area, but Teri discovered that there were tunnels under the whole area, which is where the real stories were, but they could only be visited on an official tour, and the next scheduled tour was not for 2.5 hours. So we were sad, and Teri told them that was all she had really come all the way from Canada to see :-), and they finally relented and said if there were only 3-4 people we could join the tour just starting on the far side of the tourist area. So we ran to join the tour in progress, just headed down into the bowels of the tunnels. Teri yelled for Justine across the way, and with Justine came first two members of the team, then four, then six, until everyone was present. So a tour that was supposed to have a maximum of 8 people had about 20 :-). But the tour guide kept in good humour and we all got to enjoy the informative tour of the tunnels under Vimy Ridge, and the descriptions of life in the war, and explanation of the Canadian contribution and why the Vimy Ridge memorial was created.
Then we stopped by the arena, and those Canadian team members who came along on the bus were able to check out the space, the seating, the tunnel, the lighting, and the atmosphere. It was still pretty empty, and the guys setting up were still putting lights up, but still, the excitment to come was almost palpable.
Next on to shoe shopping. For this we grabbed Teri off the bus and headed to downtown Arras. We looked around there for a while, but couldn't find anything appropriate for competition (even though this time we recruited 6-7 teenagers to lead us to a sporting goods store). But no luck so we came back to the mall beside our hotel, and luckily found and Interplay Sports store right beside the mall. She found the right pair prety quickly, so she is ready for competition now!
Finally back to Teri's hotel (team hotel) where we enjoyed an excellent supper with the team, and got a first hand look at their new shirts, with lots of Canadianism in the design, AND a graphic of every dog on the team, and the team members name on the back. They were awesome and I am sure the team members will wear them with a lot of pride.
Tomorrow the dogs finally get to play, as we are off to an early Canadian team practice, then off to the Marketplace in Arras. Should be fun!
- Team Canada Off Site Practice
Today started with the Team Canada practice at a local club's outdoor agility field (about an hour away). The folks from the club where the practice was held were super friendly, and even had cookies and coffee on hand for the team.
There were some worrisome moments when a couple of the dogs had tumbles into or off of equipment, and three of the handlers also hit the ground trying to run on the slightly slick grass, but luckily no one seemed much the worse for wear.
After the practice the canadian team posed for a few pics.
Once the practice was over John, Justine, Teri and I headed over Arras and had lunch in a small outdoor cafe. We then looked around for something touristy to do, and someone suggested climbing up to the top of the town's bellfry. Seemed promising, so headed into the city hall, where the bellfry was located. But when we into the area where the stairs were supposed to be we realized that a tour group was just going down the stairs, not up. So we followed along and spent the next 40 minutes in a tour group, exploring the limestone tunnels and caverns undermeath the town of Arras. (19 km of tunnels, where they quareyed limestone for statues, and where 45,000 armed soldiers resided before upcoming battles in the first world war.)
Then we went in the opposite direction and climbed to the very top of the town hall which looked out on the square and all of Arras and surrounding French countryside.
Tomorrow is the first day of the FCI World Championships. No competition, but all the teams have their team warm up on the footing and the equipment. Justine, John and I will be headed out early from our hotel to catch the early teams practicing (it starts at 8:00 am, and the U.S. team had the first time slot).
While the competition itself is great fun to watch, the team practices can offer even more of an insight into what the other countries are doing in terms of training, and so can be invaluable in keeping up to date on where things are, and where they are going, in the sport of agility.
- On Site Team Canada Practice - FCI World Agility Championships
It is the day before World competition begins. All the countries had their warm up today, so the dogs could climatize to the carpet, the surroundings, the equipment etc.
Team Canada was not up until almost 3:00 pm, but John, Justine, and I got there at 7:30 to watch the start of the warm-ups, and we watched all the countries throughout the day until the last country (France, as host country had this distinction) was saluted by the crowd at the end of their scheduled time.
It was interesting to note that there were a lot more good running contacts this year than two years ago (30% vs 5%). I wish the catalogue would have mentioned the dogs' age, because it would have been interesting to note how many of the stop or early release contacts were among the older dogs - vs the younger dogs being trained with straight running from the get go. I don't know that this is true, but it seemed to be the case in some of the countries.
There also seemed to be a lot more handlers sending their dogs to the back-side of jumps in the warmup. In almost every sequence that the countries were using to practice, in their few minutes on the floor, there was at least one back-side element.
There are, as usual loads of Border Collies and Shelties. There are also a number of Malinois and Poodles (Toy / Miniature) and Pyrean Shepherds, Mudis, Parson Russells, and a few Kelpies, along with a smattering of more unusual breeds playing for their respective countries.
Canada had a good warm up, with the dogs looking great on the floor, except for a bit of slipping here and there. Here is a link to a video of the team Canada warmup...
Tomorrow is the big day, as we start with Large Individual Jumping and then move to Small Individual Jumping, Medium Individual Jumping, and finally Small Team Agility.
- Tough day for Canada at the FCI World Agility Championships
Today started off a little rough for teams trying to get to the World Championship, as the traffic around the site was backed up for blocks and blocks. After waiting 1/2 hour in a completely stalled traffic jam, the bus unloaded team Canada, who had to walk a km to the site, and ended up getting there just before opening ceremonies. Finally police arrived to try to clear up the traffic, but there was just not enough space for all the vehicles that were trying to get in.
But finally we all got there and opening ceremonies was under way. Lots of the regular officials greeting the athletes etc, and they gave away a guide dog; and then onto course building for the Large Individual Round.
The course was certainly a World class challenge, with lots of tight technical bits, and it took an early toll on the majority of dogs who tried to run it. Our Canadian dogs also had a tough time of it. Susan was up first with Feature, and she managed to pull out a clear round but it definitely wasn't pretty! 🙂 Her time placed her 30+ after round 1.
Next up was Adrian and Fizz, and he also got a bit discombobulated, but managed to avoid an E and come away with only a bar and some time faults.
Fred and Tanafon did not fare so well, taking an early off course for an unfortunate E.
Susan was then up again, this time with Encore, who smashed through the wall right at the beginning of the run. After that she put it together and ran the rest of the course well, but the wall crash earned her a costly 10 faults.
Coming out of round 1 Large Individual Jumping in the top 3 were...
1st - Czech Republic - Border Collie - Kralova Terza - Nice
2nd - Austria - Border Collie - Lisa Frick - Hoss
3rd - Italy - Border Collie - Sicignano Gervasio - Winky
Next up was the Small Individual Jumping event and again we came out with one clean for Team Canada, as Jessica and Dice ran into 5th place in the Jumping Round. Suzanne & Copine, and Cathy & Briggs both took off courses for an E, in a course that caused the vast majority of competitors to have eithor an E or time faults with a Refusal.
The biggest challenge of the small dog course was the placement of the weave poles directly into the chute, with only a few feet from the end of the weaves to the shiny side of the chute. Dog after dog got caught by the reflection in the chute as they came up to the 8-12th pole, and popped out to earn a refusal.
In Medium Individual Jumping, Nicky Gurr ran clean but was out of the running for a top placement, with a somewhat slower time. Scud and Lucy were looking good all the way aroudn the course, but got caught by a backside jump on the last few obstacles (it wasn't SUPPOSED to be a backside jump). So she came out with an E. Teri and Cypher were clean through the first part of the course, but Teri pulled a little early off the broad jump and Cypher sliced it. Teri took him back to complete it, so they incurred only a refusal and time faults, rather than an E.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdMMKTrqHA0 Medium Team Video
The last event was Small Team Agility and again a tough course proved the downfall of a lot of competitors, with NO countries able to run three clean dogs. But there were a few countries with only a few time faults, or a refusal. For Team Canada both Copine and Briggs had an off course on a tight section, where the dogs were able to bounce jump over a jump that they were not supposed to take. Dice again ran without incurring an E, but she did have a non contact call on the dogwalk.
So the Small Team will be running their Team Jumpers event tomorrow just for fun, and the Medium and Large Team are up in both their Team Jumping and their Team Agility rounds tomorrow, so anything could happen there!
- Canada has some good TEAM RUNS at the FCI Worlds
Today was the day of 5 runs at the FCI World Championships, so lots of opportunities for greatness, and an equal number of opportunities to crash and burn.
Up first for Canada was our Medium Team running the Team Agility course. It was a very tight technical course, a far cry from the fast flowing courses that frequently grace the Medium Team ring, and the time was VERY tight. Only a handful of the dogs were able to run under course time, even when they had no faults and a fairly flowy course, so it was evident that the course would be a challenge.
First up were Nikki and Ninja. They were on track for a great run and good time when Nikki got a little too up close and personal with a jump, knocked it down and earned an elimination. When they say it is always the handler they were definitely right in this case J
Next up was Scud with Lucy. At about the midpoint Scud came up to the teeter, run up to just past the mid point, and came off the side when the teeter started to tip. Lucy put her back on and incurred an off course for repeating it.
Next up were the Large Team dogs for their Team Jumpers run. This course was very different from the Medium course and looked more like a fast Steeplechase course with a couple of backside obstacles and no Frame. There were going to be a lot of qualifiers on this course, so it was imperative that the Canadians pour it on!
Adrian was up first, and did just that, with a great fast, smooth performance to run clean and fast. Fred followed in his footsteps and also had great tight flowing lines, and was on the last flowing line of jumps when Fred backed right into a jump and knocked it over – like Nikki incurring an E.
Next up were our small dogs. Suzanne had pulled a muscle on Friday, and our team was not in the running for any sort of team placement, so she pulled out of team on Saturday to rest herself for the Sunday individual run. So our Small team was only two dogs in the Jumpers round.
Medium Team Jumping was up next. Again Ninja was clean and quick, and this time Nikki left all the bars up too.
Large Team was also not in the running, but hoped to pull out another couple of cleans. The course was quite technical, although there were places to pour it on as well.
First up was Fizz, who had a refusal on the 3rd tunnel, missed a dogwalk contact, and came down on top of the double, costing him an additional 1.87 over time.
- It's ooovvvvvveeeeerrrrrrr 🙁
The final round of Individual Runs were today, and Canada was still the running with a couple of dogs, while others were just running for single round honours.
First up were the Medium dogs , and once again the handlers were faced with a tight technical course. After the first run Scud was sitting in 73rd, Cypher was in 57th, and Ninja was 31st.
Scud was up first for Canada, sitting 73rd after the first round. Scud started off strong, but was called on a frame contact, then had a flyoff on the teeter, and finally went a little wide on a turn and took an off course jump for an E.
Cyphe, coming into the round in 57th place, ended the suspense pretty quickly with a wrong direction on the 2nd jump (it was a back side jump and the dogs could only see the front side, so Cypher decided that was the side to take). But the rest of the course was flowy and fast, in spite of the early E.
Next up was Ninja and Nikki, who managed to hold on throughout the tough course to pull out another clean round. Even though she came into the round in 31st there were quite a few other handlers who succumbed to the challenges of the course, so she ended up 13th overall.
1st in Medium went to USA with Luka, a Pyreneen Shepherd; 2nd went to France with Curly, another Pyreneen Shepherd; and 3rd went to Slovakia’s La, also a Pyreneen Shepherd.
Next up was the Final for the Small Individual dogs. Suzanne was still on the injured list, so it was just Briggs and Dice running for Canada. Briggs was up first, and he was sitting in 62 place coming into round 2. AS soon as the first few dogs ran the course it was obvious that the course time would be almost impossible to run under, as dog after dog ran smooth clean lines and were over time.
Briggs ran a nice course, but did get called on a dogwalk contact, and was one second over time. His time held up well during the round, but the 5 fault contact was costly.
Finally it was time for the large dogs to take the stage.
Unlike the Jumpers round the Agility round was very tight, and very technical, and was frought with challenges and off course possibilities.
First up was Fred with Tanofon who was 95 after the first round. Fred was off to a good start over the first two jumps, but then Tanafon slipped going into the right angled weaves, and could not recover to fix the weaves. So he went through them incorrectly. Fred had moved on to the next obstacle by the time he heard the crowd gasp, so he knew there was an issue but he was too late to go back and fix it. So the rest of the course did not go as well as he undoubtedly had hoped, and he came away with an E.
Next up was Encore who ran a clean, fast, flowy course in 39.05 seconds, which was a good time for the course (fastest dogs were 37 seconds so she was not far off the mark). Unfortunately she had come into the round in 72 place, so it was not enough to move her up in the overall placings.
Third for Canada was Fizz and Adrian. Adrian also ran a great smooth course with a time of 41.74, and would have been clean except for one contact on the dogwalk, which cost him 5 faults.
Last up were Susan and Feature. Feature came into the round in 30 place, and Susan handled the run cautiously, attempting to run clean. Unfortunately Feature picked up on that caution and second guessed a jump turning toward her to check that it was correct, and incurring a refusal. There was also a small matter of an up contact on the dogwalk, and .22 in time faults, which brought the fault total to 10.22 for the round.
So 1st in Large was Finn, a Border Collie from the Netherlands; 2nd was Punssi, a Border Collie from Finland; and 3rd was Russia’s Border Collie, Wi Excellent.
Team placings were as follows:
Small 1st - Russia; 2nd - Slovania; 3rd - Japan
Medium 1st - France; 2nd - Switzerland; 3rd - Great Britain
Large 1st - Spain; 2nd - Italy; 3rd – Czech Republic
Another great World Championship is now behind us, time to get back to training!