poniedziałek, 24 lipca 2023

European Open 2023 - Denmark

EO 2023 is over, we're back home and back to reality, so just to hold on a bit to great experiences, here's the report. 

I love those big events. I love meeting all the people,

The people, obviously. 

I love the challenge, I love the fact that you need an absolutely freaking perfect run to place on the podium, I love watching so many great runs, I love the talks, the little dramas, the laughs, everything. So this year was no different, and I actually loved so many things about this year's EO - the venue was cool (baring the super weird communication routes, walking the shortest way from camping 2 to the field sometimes felt like you were crossing barrens with knee high weeds and mud), nice spacious camping, lots of place to walk the dogs (we even managed a trip to a beach and the dogs swam a bit), showers with unlimited hot water :D, awesome judges and great courses  - I ran so many FANTASTIC courses during that weekend, courses that irrespective of the results just make you feel exhilarated to get through particular sequence and demand you really try your best - Stefanie, Kine, Esa, Morten - you were absolute stars! (we all know there was also the black sheep, but I'll get to it later), the weather mostly (well, apart from Sunday, but actually I take cold and even A BIT rain over smouldering heat any time), super nice ring helpers (or "officials" in the Danish-English, lol, sorry, couldn't help myself), the organisation and smooth schedule, my runs (haha), our Polish teams runs and successes, the cutest trophy ever that we've won and the list actually goes on.

Mojo with the cutest trophy ever. And I think it looks just like Pucek.

My dogs were truly amazing and I feel a bit guilty about not appreciating Pucek enough recently, because he really has his moments of brilliance and he is just so motivated and tries his best always (I mean, he is incredibly silly sometimes but I AM grateful for his enthusiasm and dedication). There were so many moments when he was just so awesome, did such difficult things and I feel a bit of an idiot for trying the RC in his agility run, because he had one of the best times with contact fault and actually if we qualified I could've nailed the stupid medium final course with 2o2o 😆😆😆. 

Pucek's jumping that was so brilliant until it wasn't ;)

Mojo was fantastic as always, she struggled a bit (aka: screamed at me) with short distances in some courses and was so offended (screamed at me more) with how much some tunnels were bent, but OMG, I've been dreaming of having a Ferrari of a dog like her and she is an incredible little fighter. We had the most hillarious elimination on Esa's individual jumping, when she didn't enter the weaves (in hindsight, I think I was too close, she works better at a distance), yelled at me and then decided to run along the whole length of the weaves and enter them from the other direction at which point both me and the judge were like WTF???!!! and I was close to tying her to the nearest tree and leaving her for the wolves.

Then the small individual agility course was published:

... and I really felt like I was gonna cry. I really had to summon all my mental resourses to try my best on this course, but then in the end managed: I even used the freaking turning command on the dogwalk literally first time ever in a competition and qualified to the individual final.

The individual final was this smashing course by Kine and I was so ready to attack it and nail it and then a momentary lapse of concentration caused us an elimination on no 2, which was heartbreaking, because after that we had such a great run and totally podium time, but oh, well, that's agility. I love that run anyway and I love Mojo for her skills. 

Our small team  qualified into team final and got to run Stefanie's crazy relay course. It was awesome, we had the same team as last year when we won and it just felt great to really know our strenghts and weaknesses. We could really match the different parts of the course to individual teams (that's kinda funny, because I didn't want to run course no 4, because I thought the straight line with the dogwalk is just too much running and then started to walk my sequence and Sandi Okanovic was walking it as well and he was like "so you're running the second course, huh?", and I was like "yeah, why?", 'Oh nothing, it's just it's the crazy straight line to the finish..." and seriously I've never ran so much on just 14 obstacles and I don't think I've ever done a rear cross on the A-frame in my entire life before that, but we all nailed it and got silver medal!!!! 

Some things I didn't like: 

  • the fact that live results were not really live and I got spoiled by the fact that they can be and got used to timing my arrival in the ring by checking them on my phone. Well, not this time. 
  • that timers failed so many times especially on Friday it was ridiculous - in the era when we're actually talking about  the times in agility needing to be super accurate and measured to three decimal places we had the best teams of the world timed with the stopwatch. I really feel that FCI must ensure that the big events like EO, AWC, JOAWC are timed with the best, certified equipment, same as for instance equestrian sports. 
  • ridiculous locking of the camping, and its opening hours,
  • the food, I mean seriously, let Italians take care of the food in the future. Or Spanish. Keep the Nordic countries away from the kitchen. 
  • that there was no real medical or veterinary assistance on the spot, 
  • the fact that despite the promises the competition was not moved to artificial turf at least for the finals (yeah, I realise it would be huge logistic problem, but I still feel it would be safer option),
  • no spectator stands, making it hard to watch the finals,
  • Regin's courses,
  • the shitstorm about Regin's courses. 
Okay, so here we go. No, I didn't like the courses, I didn't like his attitude (I've been doing this for 30 years and it's been FINE) either (although, if he was a better course designer I would actually admire his ability to stick to his guns and keep his promise to build exactly the courses he promised he'd build already a year before), but I also feel like people are blowing it totally out of proportion. I watched the runs, yes, the courses were not fluent, yes, the distances were much smaller that we got used to, yes, the dogs never got to run full speed, yes, lots of dogs had difficulties reading those lines (funny how USA dogs had no problems though) and it was somehow boring and at times painful to watch. On the other hand, people are lashing out that the courses were soooooo dangerous, that he is making dogs break their backs, that people should refuse to run them (oh, how easy it is to boycott something on someone's behalf and not actually being there...) and I'm like, well, how many dogs actually got injured on his courses? How many crashed jumps have we seen (may I just remind you Jan Egil's jumping course from last AWC when dog after dog after dog crashed the same jump? Hueppe's course when handlers crashed the dogwalk? Or the agility individual large in AWC in Zaragoza when Marie Piirjoja's dog actually got injured because of a stupid line and a metal jump? or so many other actually dangerous courses we've all ran without as much as a peep of complaint, some of them from the most renowned and famous judges?). I was never the person to advocate "less speed" in agility, but yes, there is food for thought in this, especially if you think of less advanced, less skilled dogs and handlers on an average competition. No, we don't want to get back on the training wheels on big competitions - we are actually the elite of the sport and can handle the speed and the challenges, but let's just skip the idea that every lead change is lethal and every turn is breaking your dog's body, and fuck, actually you CAN train both RC and 2o2o (the latter in just a few weeks) and I've done it with numerous dogs so far. Dogs are smart, they really can distinguish two different behaviours on the same obstacle on a different cue, same as they can differentiate multiple ways of taking a jump. 

And I'm really, really pissed off about how this is taking all the spotlight, overshadowing the other fantastic, absolutely top of the sport judges, that built SAFE, fast, interesting courses during this weekend. At worst, we all ran ONE course from Regin and three or four courses from the other judges - let's not forget that. I am also hoping that all this would bring some changes in how the judges are picked for those events and in the end, would lead to making the sport better.