Thursday, June 28, 2012

Olympic Show Jumping 101: Get In the Know for London 2012

Show jumping is by the far the most spectator-friendly of the Olympic Equestrian disciplines, and thus tends to be most well-known outside of equestrian circles. Curious about how show jumping works in general and the specific format for the upcoming Olympics? Here’s what you need to know about Olympic show jumping when you tune in to cheer on your favorite horses and riders.

Show Jumping Basics

Each horse and rider team is required to complete a course of 10-13 jumps including verticals, spreads, water, walls, and double and triple combinations within a set time. Riders are eliminated for going off-course (taking the jumps out of order), if their horse refuses to jump two times, or if they fall off. They incur penalties for knocking rails down on the fences or for finishing over the time limit. Every rail that is knocked down is worth 4 penalty points.

The winner is the horse and rider team with the fewest penalty points. If multiple teams have clear rounds, they move to a jump off. There, if more than one pair has a clear round, the winner is the one who went clear with the fastest time.

Olympic Show Jumping Format

The Olympic equestrian jumping discipline comprises two separate competitions: team jumping and individual jumping. 78 rider/horse combinations are allowed to enter. There are a total of five rounds in which horses and their riders can compete. All five count for the individual medals, while the first two rounds determine the team medals.

Olympic Jumping Round 1: Individual Round 1

All horse and rider combinations compete in the first round, which is a qualifying round for individual competition. The top 60 riders move on to the next phase and continue to compete for the individual medals.

Olympic Jumping Round 2: Individual Round 2, Team Round 1

The top 60 riders from Round 1 compete here to continue on in the individual competition. All riders who are participating on the team for their nation ride in Round 2, whether or not they made the top 60 as individuals.

Olympic Jumping Round 3: Individual Round 3, Team Finals

All team competitors participate in Round 3. Scores from Rounds 2 and 3 are then combined to determine the team medals. Riders still qualified as individuals have their scores from Rounds 1, 2, and 3 combined. The top 35 combined scores (including any ties for 35th), move on.

Olympic Jumping Round 4: Individual Finals A

At this point, riders are competing as individuals only and their scores start anew. The top 20 riders based on their Round 4 score move on to the final round.

Olympic Jumping Round 5: Individual Finals B

Individual medals are determined by each rider’s combined score from Rounds 4 and 5. In the event of any ties, a jump-off will be held. Fastest, cleanest round wins.

Olympic Jumping Rules and Procedures

A maximum of four riders/horses per country may compete as a team, with the best three scores counted for each Round. A training session will be held before the competition for riders in the jumping competition in the main arena under FEI regulations.

The course of various obstacles and jumping efforts in combinations is laid out in an enclosed arena. Various attributes are tested in the discipline (speed, precision, power etc.) but the object is always to jump the entire course within the time allowed without making a mistake, either knocking down a pole or refusals and thus accumulating faults. A fall of either horse or rider entails elimination.There will be two inspections to ensure the horses are fit to compete. One is held before the first qualification, the second on the day before the final.

Watch the 2012 London Olympics Show Jumping Events

Jumping competition at the 2012 Olympics will be held August 4, 5, 6 and 8. Team medal round is August 6, individual medal rounds are August 8.

All Olympic coverage in the US is provided by NBC. They have exclusive rights, so you can only get online streaming or TV coverage on their channels.

Olympic Show Jumping on TV

Due to the popularity of show jumping with the general public, it is likely to get some television air time. You can check your local listings for specific times on the NBCOlympics website.

Olympic Show Jumping Live Online Streaming

Live online streaming for ALL Olympic events will be available on and on an app for smartphones and tablets. Here’s the catch: this year (unlike 2008 when it was available to anyone) you can only get access if you have cable or satellite TV. You have to login to using your login credentials for your service provider in order to see any of the online video.

Personal rant: I’m part of the Netflix/Hulu Plus generation and don’t pay absurd amounts to get the same shows from a cable or satellite provider. As the girl who watched every single minute of all of the equestrian events in Beijing/Hong Kong in 2008, I’m disappointed that NBC is restricting access. I’m removing all of the brownie points I gave them four years ago for their awesome coverage.

2008 Olympic Show Jumping Flashback

Show Jumping Team

Gold: USA
Silver: Canada
Bronze: Switzerland (was originally won by Norway, but they were disqualified when one of their rider's horses tested positive for a banned substance).

Day 7 Recap: show jumping qualifier
Day 9 Recap: show jumping team Round 1
Day 10 Recap: show jumping team finals

Show Jumping Individual

Gold: Eric Lamaze (Canada)
Silver: Rolf-Goran Bengtsson (Sweden)
Bronze: Beezie Madden (USA)

Day 12 Recap: show jumping individual finals

Flickr Photo Credit: Wilson Hui (used under Creative Commons License)

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