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Preparing for the 2009 Cynosport World Games?

Leona Hellesvig interviewed Jennifer Rohling and Jacqueline Hoye to find out what competitors are thinking about on the eve of the opening of the Games.

How are competitors getting ready for the 2009 Cynosport World Games in Scottsdale, Arizona?  What are their thoughts, worries, and concerns?  To find out, I asked two competitors from Minnesota.  Jennifer Rohling is an experienced Cynosports competitor and this is Jacqueline Hoye's first trip to Cynosport. 

Leona Hellesvig (LH):  Are you going with one dog, two, or more?

Jennifer Rohling (JR):  I am going with three dogs: Elvis, a 13-year-old Border-Border; Pyromaniac, an 11-year-old Border Collie; and Gator, an 8-year-old Border-Jack.

Jacqueline Hoye (JH):  Just one: Sizzle, a 3 1/2-year-old Border collie.

LH:  Is this your first trip to Scottsdale? 

JR:  No, I have attended every year that the USDAA Nationals has been in Scottsdale. I also attended a couple times when the Nationals were in Cleveland, although I don't remember which years.

I have been lucky enough to run in many Finals rounds over the years. Back in Cleveland, my English Shepherd, Jagger ran in the Grand Prix Finals, and Rubi was in the Steeplechase Finals. In Scottsdale 2006, both Elvis and Gator ran in the Grand Prix Finals. That was quite a rush to have both dogs in the Finals at the same time! It was Gator's first Nationals event, and Elvis was 10 years old at the time. I never expected either of them to make it to the Finals. Pyro and Gator have each been in DAM Team Finals two or three times. I don't really keep track of which years we made it or how we placed.  The memories are all I keep... And the shirts!

JH:  Yes! I am very excited to go!

LH:  Please comment about the process of qualifying for Cynosport.  How much effort is it to qualify?

JR:  DAM team Qs were earned by all three of my dogs last fall, so I had those out of the way early. Pyro is very consistent, so I never worry about him getting the qualifiers he needs.  His Grand Prix and Steeplechase Qs came pretty easily. Gator is usually a rockstar at getting those local Grand Prix Qs, but this year we had a hard time. I think the new "no fault" rule was getting to us. He did eventually get them, earning byes to Regionals (which we did not attend), along with his Steeplechase Qs. With Elvis, it's always harrowing and suspenseful! He did get his Steeplechase Qs, but one little thing in every run kept us from qualifying for Grand Prix this year. It will be his first time not running in the Grand Prix.  I guess he was one of those that always made it in with the five faults.

JH:  DAM team came pretty quickly for us as we qualified on both team events we were entered in.  We had great teammates of Loretta Mueller with Klink and Bonnie Griep and Zzoom, as well as Ann Braue with Spree and Stacy Peardot Goudy with Wally.  

The Grand Prix was a little more challenging as on our first attempt at a Q did not go so well; but we did Q the next two tries getting us qualified for that event.   Steeplechase also came quickly for us.

LH:  What are you doing in your dog training program to prepare for nationals?  How is it different than preparing for a regular trial?

JR:  I'm not really doing anything special.  My dogs are all pretty seasoned competitors. I have been really enforcing contact criteria with all, and working on tightening up Gator's path.

I attended a trial last weekend and entered "For Exhibition Only" so I could do some training in the ring. Gator was quite surprised to learn that he actually had to stay at the start line! When he broke his stays, I put him back and re-started.  The look on his face was priceless!

I temporarily stop doing flyball with the gang for several weeks before each Nationals to avoid any unnecessary injuries.  It's not that flyball is a dangerous or injury-prone sport, I'm just trying to be extra careful.

JH:  [I've been] trying to set up courses with different angles than we are used to, [and doing] jump conditioning as well as core strengthening exercises. [I've been] having the A-frame raised as well. I have been sick with a cold/bronchitis so our training hasn't been what I had hoped for these past two weeks. 

LH:  Are you doing anything in particular to train and prepare yourself for Cynosport mentally or physically?

JR:  No, nothing out of the ordinary. I work out every day to stay in shape physically, and I try not to obsess about Nationals to stay in shape mentally. I work hard with the dogs all year and we go to Nationals knowing that we've done all we can to prepare and now it's time to have fun and let the cards fall where they may. I've been doing this long enough to know that anything can happen, good or bad, to even the most prepared team.  There's no sense obsessing about what will happen.

JH:  Just trying to stay focused and not get caught up in extra drama that may occur. I will also be re-listening to Lanny Bassham With Winning in Mind for a mental tune-up.

LH:  Jennifer, you have been to Cynosport in previous years.  What expectations do you have this year?

JR:  I'm curious to see how the grounds at WestWorld will be laid out this year. It changes every year.

I tried dock diving with Gator last year.  He swam around in the middle of the pool and would not come out (he loves to swim).  One of the workers had to dive in and get him. Not sure I'll be trying that again this year.

LH:  Jacque, you are going to Cynosport for the first time.  What kinds of things are on your mind as you prepare for the trip? Do you have unanswered questions or anticipations?  

JH:  I am a little nervous as all of the Minnesota people are in group G and I think I am the only one in Group B.  This being my first time I was hoping to have my fellow "Minnesota nice" competitors around to help with questions I may have.  But it will be fun either way!  I am very anxious and excited to see so many top-notch handlers in one place competing.  It should be a fantastic experience!  

LH:  Good luck in Scottsdale to both of you! 

Stay tuned to the USDAA website throughout the Cynosport Games to find course maps, news about live streaming video, photos, course analysis, interviews, and more!

Leona Hellesvig has been engaged in dog sports since toddlerhood.  She is very involved with junior handlers and 4-H in Minnesota.  When not participating in dog activities, Leona is an elementary school music teacher.



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