by Brenna Fender



2011 European Open

By Brenna Fender with photos by Janneke Case & Daisy Peel

The 2011 European Open (EO) took place on July 30 and 31 in Austria in a town called Bad Hall. The competition was limited to 650 dogs, with only 50% of those dogs jumping in the “large” height category. With no pedigree required for entry, all dogs were welcomed, making it an exciting and competitive event.

The EO consisted of both individual and team events. On Saturday, there was an individual jumping run and agility (standard) run, and then qualifiers moved on to the individual finals. Qualification was based on class placements (the top 25 large dogs qualified, as well as the top 15 in the small and medium classes). Additionally, all competitors were ranked separately for each round within their respective countries and were assigned points based on their scores. The total points from both runs combined determined the top team from each country, which also ran in the finals. If that competitor already qualified for the finals by being in the top 25 (for large dogs) or 15 (for small or medium dogs) in an individual class, the next highest scoring member from that country got to take her place.

The team events all took place on Sunday. Each team was made up of either three or four members. Like the Individual Final, the team event was comprised of both agility and jumpers classes as well as a final run. Scores for each of the first two runs were combined and the top 10 teams in the large and the small/medium categories qualified for the Team Final. This final was a relay with four separate courses built into one.

The U.S. sent six teams to the event, with a total of 21 dogs competing. Nancy Gyes, who competed on USA 1 with her Border Collie, Ace, served as team coach and Janneke Case, who ran on USA 5 with her Shetland Sheepdogs, Binkie and Roo, was the team manager.

On Friday, USA had a team practice and vet check. Case says, “All the dogs did great in practice getting used to some of the equipment we don’t readily see in the U.S., like the wall jump, the heavier chute, a different tire (looks like a bike tire), and for some, rubber contacts.” In Saturday’s individual competition, Daisy Peel and Solar won 2nd place in the Individual Standard class, earning a trip to the podium to accept the award. Both Peel and Solar and Gyes and Ace made it into the individual finals in the large dog category, and Joan Meyer and Neil represented the U.S. in the small dog finals (the two medium dogs were eliminated in both rounds and did not get to go to the finals). Gyes and Ace were the highest scoring American team in the individual finals, earning 7th place.

On Sunday, Team USA1, consisting of Gyes and Ace, Susan Cochran and Rider, Channan Fosty and Icon, and Laura Jones and Kep, were placed third after the first two rounds in the team competition and were able to go into the finals, the four-dog relay. An off-course by one dog earned an elimination and disqualified the team from placing in the finals, but it did not change their third place position. It was a proud moment for all when they stood on the podium to accept their award. “The USA teams have done incredibly well at European Opens in the past years and have earned several individual podium placements and a team podium placement. With the exceptionally competitive crowd at the EO each year, that has been a great accomplishment,” says Case.

In the Team Large finals, Finland came in first with Italy and Croatia second and third. The Medium/Small competition was won by Finland as well, with Slovenia and France in the next two spots. The Individual Large competition was won by Linna Niina-Liina (Finland) and Rhett (Border Collie) with second place going to another Finland resident, Leinonen Janita and Hitti (Border Collie), and Smocek Jan (Czech Republic) and Pipin (Border Collie) taking third. The Individual Medium competition winner was Boogk Silas (Germany) with Caja (Sheltie). Second went to Bonac Polona (Slovenia) and Ozugrato Buzavirag (Mudi) and third was taken by Melain Emmanuel (France) and Aqua (Kelpie). In Individual Small, Malgaroli Serena Ines (Italy) and Sherry (mixed breed) took first, with Vakonic Pavol (Slovakia) and Cira (Sheltie) taking second and Verri Naima (Italy) and Nina (Parson Russell Terrier) in third.

The competition at this year’s EO was “extremely fierce,” according to Case. “As always, it was a very competitive competition and certainly challenged all of us,” she says. Next year’s European Open will be held in Sweden. “I definitely look forward to that,” says Case.

For more information about the EO, including complete results, visit http://agilityem2011.jimdo.com. If you are interested in attending the 2012 European Open, contact Janneke Case at Jannekecase@hotmail.com for qualification information.

Special thanks to Janneke Case for her assistance with this article.