TORONTO -- Two days after helping the United States to team dressage gold at the Pan American Games, Steffen Peters realized the dream of any athlete competing at the Games when he went two for two and won individual gold on Tuesday.
Peters, Laura Graves, Kim Herslow and Sabine Schut-Kery won the team gold Sunday to earn the U.S. a spot in the event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. All four placed in the top 50 percent of riders in the team final, qualifying them for the individual competition.
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However, the Pan American Sports Organization ruled on Monday that only three riders from each country would be allowed to compete in the individual final. A redraw then occurred, where two riders, including Team USA’s Sabine Schut-Kery, were not allowed to compete.
Herslow on Rosmarin kicked off the competition for Team USA as the duo kicked off their test to a classical rendition of contemporary songs by Maroon 5 and Lady Gaga.
“He moves like Jagger,” Herslow said.
On the duo’s first pirouette, Sanceo faltered on his canter. Worth twice the marks, the penalty was twice as great, pushing Herslow out of medal contention.
“My horse ran out of gas today,” Herslow said. “He got flustered from the first mistake and it just compounded from there. Both of us got a little out of sync when the gas tank got empty.”
Herslow finished with a technical score of 71.150 and artistic score of 75.200 for a final score of 73.125, landing in eighth.
“I’m just glad I was able to help the team bring the gold home,” Herslow said. “I’m still ecstatic about the two days prior.”
Peters and his horse, Legolas 92, started with a unique rendition of “Ice Ice Baby,” where the lyrics changed to reflect Legolas and then an acoustic version of Coldplay’s “Fix You.”
“He kept that cadence from the passage, the piaffe felt huge, the passage and the half passes felt just as big,” said Peters, a three-time Olympian.
Peters, who was nearly perfect, catapulted to the top of the table with an 80.075.
“From this morning,” Peters said. “I had this mindset that we have to do this, we have to bring it home.”
The last competitor, Team USA’s Laura Graves, would try to knock her teammate out of gold-medal position.
“There’s absolutely no doubt that she can beat this score,” Peters said before Graves took her test.
“I ended on a high note,” said Graves, who finished with a 79.825 and the silver medal. “Today, we just went in and did the best we could. It’s for yourself. Even though I’m not as high as I was on Sunday, I’m still so thrilled to have another American on top of the podium. To finish next to Steffen is still amazing.”
With a very competitive field of athletes on hand, only 0.25 points separated first from third on the podium.
“This is just like the Olympic Games,” Peters said of the level of competition at the Pan Ams. “There’s really no difference.”