Lexington, Ky. – US Equestrian has announced that changes are on the horizon for U.S. eventing as they roll out the first phase of a restructured and reinvented U.S. Eventing Pathway Program in 2019. As presented and discussed at length at the 2018 United States Eventing Association’s (USEA) Annual Meeting in December, and with U.S. Eventing Director of High Performance Erik Duvander at the helm, the program looks to create a “culture of competitiveness” and provide a more clearly defined pathway for eventing athletes in the United States. Duvander will work closely with Leslie Law, USEF Eventing Emerging Athlete and Development Potential Coach, Joanie Morris, USEF Managing Director of Eventing, and her team, along with the Selectors and Eventing team staff.
“With a more clearly defined Pathway for our athletes in place, Leslie [Law] and I can now begin to work closely together to meet the goals of the program and focus on the key drivers for its success,” says Duvander. “These key drivers include the selection of athletes onto the training list. These selected athletes must be committed, and focus everyday on the work at home, in their training programs, as well as in the team training environment, to become their best. Combinations who can deliver performances to support a team-podium finish are the goal. Through the Pathway Program, the door is always open for these athletes, and we must be prudent and target our resources where it will make the most difference. We will continuously review our progress and measure it against world-leading performances. 2019 is just the beginning of the process for us.”
Notable changes to the Eventing Pathway Program include:
- A redefinition of the levels of the program from Elite, Development with Tier 1 and Tier 2, and Emerging Athlete to the now defined Elite, Development Pre-Elite, Development Potential, and Emerging Athlete. The criterion for these levels can be found here.
- The addition of a Performance Advisory Team (PAT), has been established to advise Duvander on program and training list selection and funding allocation under the guidance of the Eventing Sport Committee (ESC). This group will also aid in his strategic decisions. The appointment of the PAT means that selection to the Programs will now be separate from the selection for U.S. Eventing teams.
- The team of five eventing Selectors will select Championship and FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ teams. This list is being finalized and will be published as part of the USEF’s Pan American Games eventing selection procedures.
- The ESC will appoint an Ad Hoc Group to approve recommendations from the Selectors (teams) and the PAT (program selection).
- Introduction of unofficial “team competitions” at existing competitions in order for U.S. eventing athletes to gain additional experience in a team environment.
- All funding provided to athletes will be linked to discussed and agreed upon targets.
- Discussions will be ongoing to align grants to specific points in the Program.
- The High Performance Working Group has been disbanded and the duties have been divided between the Performance Director and his advisors and the ESC or an Ad Hoc Group of the ESC.
- Morris will continue to manage the programs in her role as Managing Director of Eventing.
“The process of reviewing the eventing programs started early in 2018, and many people have given a considerable amount of time and expertise to this project over the last several months,” said USEF Director of Sport Will Connell. “The revised structure should lead to a more nimble program that allows Erik [Duvander] and Leslie [Law] to ensure we move towards sustainable success in eventing. LA 2028 [Olympic Games] is less than 10 years away, so our development and emerging programs must focus on a podium finish at our home Olympic Games.”
In addition, collaboration and ongoing discussion with USEA for the future of the Emerging Athlete program will look to provide more opportunity for up-and-coming athletes at a regional level, supplementing the existing USEA Area Young Rider programs and creating a stepping stone to the national level. This will evolve throughout 2019 and a joint program will be implemented in 2020. Law will be largely involved in these discussions with USEA and Duvander, as he will expand his coaching roles into the Development Potential levels in the future.
In a recent letter to U.S. eventers, Duvander summed up the need for a well-though-out and purposeful pathway program. “Our purpose in High Performance is to support our elite riders in their pursuit of excellence and to develop the next generation team riders to achieve sustainable success at championships; to have a pathway in place, and run programs where riders are given the opportunity to develop, be tested, and prove themselves.” Read more of Duvander’s letter here.
The USEF International High Performance Programs are generously supported by the USET Foundation, USOC, and USEF Sponsors and Members.