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IFCS WAC Thursday Update

Janet Gauntt fills us in on Thursday's happenings.

Today was check-in and equipment familiarization day at the IFCS World Agility Championships in Belgium.  Although check-in time began at 10:00 am, the U.S. time slot was not scheduled until 2:30 pm.  This left everyone with a few hours to kill in the morning.  The city of Kortrijk offers several charming historical sites to see within a short walking distance of the hotel.  So we set out from the centuries old city hall opposite our hotel, through some authentically old (translate narrow and winding) streets, and down to the river Leie where we viewed the Broeltorens (Broel Towers) which were built in 1385 and are all that are left of the original walls around the castle of the original duchy.  We left the toren with every intention of making our next stop the Onze-Lieve Vrouwekerk (Our Lady's Church) and the surrounding grounds of the Beguinage.  Sadly, we were distracted along the way by the more modern sites of Belgian clothes stores, jewelry stores, and of course, the famous Belgian chocolate shops, and we went off-course.  So the Beguinage will have to wait for another day.

At noon, it was on to the stadium in Ingelmunster.  Upon arriving, we were able to observe the Canadian, Spanish, Great Britain, and Dutch teams during their practice periods.  We then reported to the secretariat at 2:30.  First up was the paperwork and medical check.  It requires quite a bit of paperwork to get a dog into the European Union and it is almost disappointing that this paperwork is never actually examined at the airport by the customs officials.  Paperwork and microchipping were however verified today during the medical check.  Some on the team were quite happy after all that they had followed instructions and had arranged to bring a microchip reader along for those dogs that had been implanted with chips that are incompatible with European standards.  Following the medical check, all dogs measured in with no problem and we then waited for our assigned practice time, 3:15, to arrive.

Each team competing received 1/2 hour training time in each ring on equipment supplied by Dutch equipment manufacturer Favoriet.   From previous events, we knew that we could move the equipment to suit, so early in the afternoon Coach Stacy designed several practice sets around the current locations of the contacts and the (staked) tunnels.  At precisely 3:15, the team and the support staff (husbands and friends traveling with the team) jumped into place and set up the training drills. 

Stacy followed with a quick briefing and walk-through (no numbers!) and all the team was put through their paces ending our first training period with 10 seconds to spare.  This routine was repeated again for Ring 2 and we finished promptly at 4:15pm.  All of us went back to the crating area for a short wrap-up session from Team Manager Janet and Coach Stacy and then it was back to the Hotel Brussels to clean up for dinner.

The official competitors' dinner was a catered affair in a hall immediately adjacent to the sports stadium.  We were officially welcomed by the IFCS Council and the mayor of Ingelmunster in English, German, French, and Dutch.  The mayor promised especially good weather for the next several days.  And so far the weather has been, well, perfect!  The weather reports indicate several more days of this (partly cloudy to sunny, lows of 55F, highs of 78F).

Although there were several servings offered over the next few hours, few teams (including ours) lasted until the dessert course since all teams knew that they were due at the stadium by 8:00 am Friday.

Our abbreviated Kortrijk walking tour team of
(from left to right) Anne, Elizabeth, Mary Ellen, Kate,
Mike and Bailey at the Broeltorens.
Photo by J.L. Gauntt.
Mary Ellen and Fizz nailing the difficult weave entry on
the practice drill.  Photo by J.P. Evans.
Suzanne and Sonic working the teeter.  Several of our team's and other team's mini dogs tended to fly off the teeter on their first one or two attempts, so it was important to work the kinks out before the competition.  Photo by J.P. Evans.
Rachel and Fable demonstrate both speed and independence on the weaves.  Photo by J.B. Evans.
Dana and Tangle on a high after finishing up one of
the drills. Photo by J.P. Evans.
Anne and Ski work the spread jump.  The team support staff had to work quickly to change courses, straighten chute tunnels and set bars.  Once or twice we didn't get everything set to perfection (hence the crooked bar) but the familiarization was valuable nonetheless. Photo by J.P. Evans.
Presentation at banquet.
From left to right: Two finalists
from the Miss Belgium contest,
Agility V.O.E. Event Secretary
Niko de Smet, IFCS Council
Member Luis Ciurana (ESP),
Agility V.O.E. President Dirk Defour,
the Mayor of Inglemunster, and
IFCS Council Members
Steve Drinkwater (AUS),
Kenneth Tatsch (USA), and
Yuri Ostashenko (RUS).

Photo by J.L. Gauntt.

One of the quick practice drills put together on the spot by Coach Stacy to serve the dual purpose of equipment familiarization and skills refresher on some possible course challenges we might see this weekend.  Courtesy of J.L. Gauntt.


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