Overall we had a great Champs, lots of solid improvement over last year. A puzzling number of bars came down and that happened last year as well so I have to wonder if there's something about the footing that Strummer struggles with. Though I'll take credit for a bar or two. He only missed a couple weave pole entries compared to nearly every one last year and his dogwalks were awesome. He got 4/5 (80%) during Champs, only missed one on Traditional Gamblers where it didn't 'matter'. He did miss one on his Standard warm-up run and it cost us a Q so the percentage goes down to 4/6 (67%) for the whole weekend but still I was pleased. Missed only one A-frame out of about a million and that was the last day during the Strategic Time Gamble. I flung my arm up into the air and sent him flying early off the A-frame. I think it was the only instance of arm flinging all 4 days though so that was good.
DOCNA Champs is so well organized and well run, it's truly an event designed with the competitor in mind. I was through with my 4 runs each day by 2:00-3:00 and most days all the runs were done by 4:00-4:30. The awards were another matter, usually running until 5:00 or so. There are a lot of awards in DOCNA, in a way it's kind of ridiculous but that's another post for another day. The most excellent food vendor was back again with wonderful, tasty fresh food and vegetarian options at great prices. Weather was sunny in the mid-80's again each day but mornings were nice and cool and 2-3 of my 4 runs were in cool to reasonable temps. I even wore a fleece for Sunday morning's run.
Our best event was Jumpers. Only one bar down out of 3 runs and we finished 3rd overall compared to last year where we had about a million bars down each run, some off courses and I believe finished DFL. The courses were once again serps. & pinwheels. Somehow despite all my practice I still managed to bungle both serpentines a little, even turning into him on one of them which is something I haven't reverted to in ages. Don't know where that came from. We were in 2nd place going into the Finals even with the bar down because DOCNA scores Jumpers & Standard as time plus faults for Champs. but I had a few handling bobbles in the Final round and we ended up in 3rd.
Jumpers Rounds 1, 2 and Finals
Standard also went well. Round 1 was clean and put us in 2nd place with just under a second behind 1st. But he had a bar down in Round 2 and combined with a refusal and a missed weave entry we ended up 7th overall and missed making Finals by 2.4 seconds. The absence of any one of those mistakes would have put us in the Finals. Again a huge improvement over last year. I was so pleased, especially that he got both dogwalks with nice solid hits. In fact the missed weave entry was caused by me mentally celebrating the dogwalk and forgetting to verbally cue the weaves in time.
The North America Challenge (like USDAA's Grand Prix) was another lovely run with a beautiful dogwalk with a tricky 180 turn to tunnel (not a flip) with 3 off course options that he had to run past to get the tunnel. My training partner gave me a great handling tip and it worked a treat. We had 2 bars down but no other refusals or errors and while I wasn't happy about the bars I was so happy with the run overall. Last year we had an off course and other errors so this was a big improvement.
Sorry for the red, white and blue tie dye t-shirt fashion disaster nightmare but those were the shirts DOCNA gave us and we were sort of pressured into wearing them for the day. I was horrified wearing this thing but it's important to pick your battles in life and this one wasn't worth it.
NAC and Standard Rounds 1 and 2
Then there were the games-Snakes and Ladders, Trigility, Traditional Gamblers and Strategic Time Gamble. We ran Snakes & Ladders and our Jumpers portion of Trigility clean and took 3rd place in both. Strum did the gamble beautifully in Traditional Gamblers but I wasn't watching my footing and went thundering over the gamble line like a herd of elephants. I realized as both feet were in the air that I was going over and it must have been a comical scene to see me trying to backpedal mid-air. Strategic Time Gamble was our worst event. I flung my arm out during the opening causing the only missed A-frame of the day and sending him not where I intended him to go. He also missed a weave entry. Then I added an extra loop trying to waste time and that actually put us over time. If I'd just left the ring we would have been fine. Ah well. It was Sunday morning and I was tired and not with my heart in that run. Last year it was our best run of the trial.
And what would a Championships be without an obligatory cheesy ribbon photo. I'm missing our fancy overall Jumpers ribbon because Jonny left after Jumpers taking Strummer with him and I came home later after the awards with a friend.
I love the crazy look on his face, sums him up perfectly. I should have taken my hat off but oh well.
Even though I'm cranky at the idea of splitting the West Champs into 2 next year and I wasn't planning on going I may rethink it because I had such a great time this year. If it conflicts with some other event (ie Xterra Nationals) I won't go but it's hard to pass up such a fun event when it's only 40-45 minutes away.
I was tired after 4 days and thankful that Grand Junction isn't that long of a drive. We finished with the awards at just after 2:00 and even with a long stop for gas and a few pockets of traffic we were home by 6:15 or so. The leaves are changing late this year so it wasn't as golden driving home through the mountains this year as last but it was still pretty.