Concerns have been raised around leadership and funding in US eventing ahead of the first 2022 five-star competition, but the federation says an interim chef d’equipe and team manager will be appointed this spring.
Event rider Phillip Dutton, who rode at three Olympic Games for Australia before changing nationality in 2006 to represent the US, has raised concerns around the availability of grants from US Equestrian (USEF) for the sport – and the wait for a new chef d’equipe. In December it was announced Erik Duvander’s contract with USEF was not being renewed, after four years as performance director of eventing, and this was followed by the departure of USEF manager director of eventing Jenni Autry, who had been in position since July 2019.
“The lack of urgency that USEF has for getting a leader installed and moving forward is very disappointing for many of us event riders,” said Phillip. “It’s now nearly April and arguably our most influential five-stars, Kentucky and Badminton, are just a few weeks away, not to mention the World Championships in September.
“No eventing grants are currently being given out, even though the fundraising efforts that USEF promotes are to raise money for all disciplines. We sincerely hope USEF will recognise this and be proactive.”
USEF director of sport Will Connell told H&H the organisation is taking a “thorough and mediated approach” to a restructure of the US elite eventing program.
“We want to ensure there is stability and a maintained pathway for success for the future and have openly communicated our approach since this process began,” he said.
“An elite eventing task force, with representation of athletes, owners, and individuals with extensive international experience, were appointed to consider all aspects of the elite program with dialogue being led by a facilitator from the United States Olympics and Paralympic Committee.”
Mr Connell said an interim chef d’equipe and team manager will be appointed prior to the Kentucky Three-Day Event (28 April to 1 May) “giving time to clarify the role” and ultimately help USEF identify the “right person” to lead the elite programme through Paris 2024 and beyond.
“It has also been communicated to athletes that there will be funding to support athletes travelling to Europe for specific Nations Cup competitions in 2022, as the USET Foundation continues to manage grant allocation on and above the very generous funding they provide to the federation’s high performance programmes,” said the spokesman.
“The athletes continue to be significant contributors in how we have moved forward with this process. The stakeholder groups involved are all in agreement it is critical to ensure we have the right individuals in place in order for the program to be competitive and consistent at the international championship level moving forward and continue to invest efforts in the growth and management of the developing programs under the guidance of [British rider and US eventing developing rider coach] Leslie Law.”
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