by Brenna Fender
06/09/10

 

 

 

 

2010 IFCS World Agility Championship

By Brenna Fender with photos by Karen Moureaux, Dog Sport Photos

 

The fifth International Federation of Cynological Sports (IFCS) World Agility Championships took place May 14-16 at the Hand Equestrian Centre in the United Kingdom. A total of 97 competitors from 12 different countries battled it out to see who could claim to be the “best of the best” on an international playing field. Team competitions and individual awards and medals were given out, making every run count.

The event officially began on Friday, although teams could practice onsite Wednesday and Thursday to prepare for the competition. Judges Bob Griffin (Great Britain), Janet Gauntt (USA), and Wim Bekendam (Netherlands) designed courses for the event and presided over all the classes. The US Team, made up of Angie Benacquisto with Duncan (Toy Fox Terrier) and Dylan (Rat Terrier), Daneen Fox and Masher (Papillon), Janelle Julyan and Eve (Pembroke Welsh Corgi), Rhonda Koeske and Tack (Mixed Breed), Elise Lynch and Ting (Border Collie), Kate Moureaux and Driven (Border Collie), Stephanie Spyr and Rage (Border Collie), Rosanne DeMascio and Drifter (Border Collie), Dudley Fontaine and Maverick (Border Collie), Ann Zarr and Skylar (Border Collie), Suzanne Wesley and Sonic (Poodle), and coach Stacy Peardot-Goudy, was up for the challenge.

Friday offered Team Triathlon Jumping, the first of three classes (including Team Triathlon Agility and Team Relay) which were a part of the overall team medaling competition known as the Team Triathlon. No medals were given out in the three individual Triathlon classes. Also on Friday were Individual Snooker and Individual Agility (commonly known as Standard in the US). Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals were awarded in the individual classes for each height (Toy, Mini, Midi, and Maxi).
Unfortunately, the competition started off with an injury. In Jumpers, US team member Dudley Fontaine fell, dislocating her elbow. After a trip to the emergency room, her arm was cast. The US team had to take a zero for that run, and Fontaine was unable to run for the remainder of the event. A class act, Fontaine says, “Granted, this time did not go as I would have wished, but I am still thrilled to have made it and to have been a part of the 2010 World Team. I will absolutely be trying to make the team again in 2012!”

Russian competitors began dominating the event right from the start. Six of the 12 available medals in Individual Snooker went to Russian dogs and handlers. North American teams took home four medals. Angie Benacquisto and Dylan and Daneen Fox and Masher, both from the US, took home Golds. Canadians Susan Garrett and Encore and Chris Krol and Setna took home a Silver and a Bronze, respectively. Benacquisto says, “It was an exhilarating experience to be on the podium, receive a Gold medal and hear our anthem playing. Even though Dylan was a little afraid, it was still very exciting!”

In Individual Agility, Great Britain, who medaled twice in Individual Snooker, was a major force, winning five medals. Russia was limited to three, with Canada and the US pulling in two a piece (Canada’s Susan Garrett won Gold with Feature and Bronze with Encore, and Americans Stephanie Spyr and Rage won Gold and Janelle Julyan and Eve finished with a Silver).

On Saturday, the first of two Biathlon classes was held. Biathlon is an individual event made up of combined scores from Jumping and Agility. No medals were awarded in the separate Biathlon classes. Also on Saturday, Individual Gamblers and Team Agility Triathlon were run. Individual Gamblers was again subject to Russian domination as five medals went to Russian teams. USA won Gold in the Maxi class via Roseanne DeMascio and Drifter, while Lucie Dessureault and Nitro brought home a Silver in the Mini class for Canada.

On Sunday, Jumping Individual was the last of the individual classes that, when combined, made up the All Around event (Snooker, Agility, and Gamblers scores were added together with Jumping for overall medals). In Individual Jumpers, Russia took home four medals, while North America also had four, split evenly again between the US (Silvers for both Ann Zarr and Skylar and Angie Benacquisto and Dylan) and Canada (Silver for Kim Cullen and Recess and Bronze for Tiffany Salmon and Rio). Also on Sunday were the Team Relay class and the Agility Standard–Biathlon class.

As the event closed on Sunday, Triathlon, Biathlon, and All Around medals were awarded. Russia nearly swept the Biathlon, winning nine medals. USA’s Angie Benacquisto and Duncan earned the sole American medal (a Bronze), and Canada brought home two (a Silver for Tiffany Salmon and Rio and a Bronze for Kayl McCann and Ping Pong). Six All Around medals went to Russians and three to the British, with a Silver medal going to Ann Zarr and Skylar from the US and another Silver going to Lucie Dessureault and Nitro from Canada.

It was no surprise that Russian teams captured the Gold and Silver in the Team Triathlon, with the Canadian teams finishing with the Bronze and fourth place (each country could have up to two three-dog teams in this event). US teams were seventh and eighth.

US Team members, who were selected to compete based on point accumulation at designated USDAA events, found many challenges at the event. Because of the complicated rules for bringing dogs into the UK, traveling caused stress for many competitors. In fact, the Australian team came without dogs and ran dogs provided by the host country because quarantine issues for their own country made travel too difficult. USA’s Elise Lynch says, “I stressed about the trip over and getting my dog through the rigorous hurdles of red tape and vet checks required to bypass the strict rules of the quarantine. We heard stories that if your paperwork was not perfect, they turned you away at the border and sent you back on the next plane, or worse, they kept your dog for six months. The more comfortable I feel in at a venue is directly related to the amount of success I am going to have at that show. Relaxing is a key component of being able to think and run fast. Going to England took away all my security blankets.”

In addition to the stress of travel and quarantine rules, the course designs provided plenty of challenges to US competitors. Two-time team member Suzanne Wesley says, “I felt that the courses were a lot more challenging this year than in Belgium [the site of the 2008 World Agility Championships].” Rhonda Koeske also found the European courses demanding: “The biggest challenge for me was that the courses were primarily very tight. Tack is a long jumper, not a good turner, and likes to take what is straight ahead. We had been training for the European-style courses but it was still a bit shocking when we got course maps and walked the courses.” The European-style design contained challenges not often seen in the US. Although the US Team practiced for the event, the inability to run these types of courses under the pressure of a local trial was a detriment, according to Wesley.

Despite struggling with the challenge of international travel with a dog, the loss of a teammate due to Fontaine’s injury, and differing course designs, US team members found much to appreciate and enjoy at the event. Koeske says, “I had so much fun with the rest of the team. The first morning that we were all in England, [USA Team coach Stacy Peardot-Goudy] recommended a hike together; it was a great idea. It was such a nice time to talk and get to know some of my teammates. The trial volunteers were incredible, UK Agility [the hosting club] did a phenomenal job, the onsite vet was so nice, the running surface was great, the hotel staff was great with the dogs (even if they wouldn’t let them potty on the grounds), the views were breathtaking, and it was great fun interacting with all of the foreign competitors.” The running surface was highly praised by many US competitors. Lynch says, “The footing was wonderful. There was a fiber material mixed into the dirt footing that when rolled make the dirt firm but springy. My legs did not get fatigued as they usually do by the end of a day of standing up and walking back and forth.”

The event provided a lifetime of memories for US competitors. Koeske says, “Many of my friends that have competed at this level kept reminding me to enjoy the journey. [They said] that I would never look at agility the same again. I now know what they mean. I learned so much about myself, my dog, my team, and my sport. The lessons will make me a better trainer, handler, and competitor. I’m writing a journal now that I have time, so that I (hopefully) don’t forget a thing!”





 

Courses

To see courses for this year's event, click here.

Results for Team Triathlon 

Place Country
1 Russia Team 1
2 Russia Team 2
3 Canada Team 2
4 Canada Team 1
5 Australia Team 2
6 Great Britain Team 1
7 USA Team 2
8 USA Team 1
9 Japan Team 1
10 Netherlands Team 2
11 Netherlands Team 1
12 Japan Team 2
13 Great Britain Team 2
14 New Zealand
15 Italy
16 Australia Team 1
17 Spain

USA Medals 

Place Handler Dog Event Height
Gold Daneen Fox Masher Individual Snooker Toy
Gold Angie Benacquisto Dylan Individual Snooker Mini
Silver Angie Benacquisto Dylan Individual Jumping Mini
Silver Janelle Julyan Eve Individual Agility Toy
Gold Stephanie Spyr Rage Individual Agility Midi
Gold Rosanne DeMascio Drifter Individual Gamblers Maxi
Silver Ann Zarr Skylar Individual Jumping Maxi
Silver Ann Zarr Skylar All Around Maxi
Bronze Angie Benacquisto Duncan Biathlon Toy

Medal Count by Country 

Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
Russia 14 12 10 36
Great Britain 3 4 6 13
Canada 1 5 5 11
USA 4 4 1 9
Japan 2 0 1 3
Belgium 0 0 1 1
New Zealand 1 0 0 1
Netherlands 0 0 1 1