Kiwi supporters take on WEG 2018

Kiwi supporters out watching the driving marathon

There have been plenty of Kiwi supporters here at the World Equestrian Games, and we have caught up with a few at various places as the competition has gone on.

There’s been some supporters encountered between the various arenas, trade stands and grandstands, some out on course for the driving and a few spied in the popular Silo bar as well! Who knew that some would enjoy red wine over ice!

Kiwi flags come in handy for a bit of shade!

We’ve also enjoyed seeing some of their social media posts, especially the group who had a close encounter with a bear and managed to video it raiding their rubbish (known as ‘trash’ here).

The Kiwis spoken to have all been very positive about their experiences. “We’re having a ball” is a common cry.

Kiwis in the stands

Of course there are things that could be better, but everyone is appreciating that the organisers are trying their best and are thankful that there is even a WEG to come to, although whether there will ever be another WEG again remains to be known.

It is also a big bonus having all the competitions within close proximity. Many supporters have taken the opportunity to watch disciplines that they have never seen before. There are definitely a few more driving enthusiasts as a result and maybe vaulting will become more popular in the future in New Zealand. There are also a few NZ Olympians here, and we know for sure that the experience has relit the fire for Matthew Grayling. Look out Trudeau, a ramped-up training programme is being planned for you!  As to Maurie Beatson and Sally Clarke, we will come back to you on that one!

Maurice Beatson enjoying the show jumping

Yes, the venue still needs work, there is no question of that but will it be amazing in the future? Yes again. Every day there is more progress being made, right up to the very last day.

Yes, the weather has been a huge factor, fluctuating from hurricane to heatwave. Locals say that the temperatures are at least ten degrees higher than normal for this time of the year. The decision to cancel the Freestyle was very disappointing for so many dressage enthusiasts but many took the opportunity to trade their refunds for upgraded tickets in the shade for the show jumping. Having the threat of a hurricane put many people off travelling here, especially US folk. Many accommodation places had plenty of cancellations, and the trade stands were certainly disappointed with their turnover during that period.

Great spot ladies! More Kiwi supporters

Having a day in between cross country and show jumping phases in eventing was unique, but the final finish was so exciting, with the Irish very nearly pulling off a gold medal, and as it is, they are being celebrated as heroes at home for their silver.

One thing that is undisputed is that the locals, whether they be from North Carolina or further afield (and there are many who have come some distance to be involved), are bending over backwards to make visitors feel welcome and enjoy their visit.

“Y’all have a good day,” they say. There is a huge fleet of golf carts and buggies zipping around the venue, and they will nearly always stop to offer a ride if you are walking, whether they be volunteers, officials, trade stand vendors or organisers. Even this morning, on my five minute walk from carpark to media centre, I got offered three rides, one even in a big-as ute! The shuttle service may have had a few teething issues to start with but it is a well-performing part of the operation now.

Lisa Tennekoon enjoying herself at the show jumping

I have also yet to hear any complaints about accommodation. Kiwis are scattered all around the district, from Lake Lure (where some of Dirty Dancing was filmed) to two miles down the road, but all seem to be very happy with their arrangements. Those who have to travel thirty minutes or so to get here are reporting it not to be a problem at all. Parking spots have popped up as entreprenurial locals have seen an opportunity and provide great shuttle service too, some even selling their own produce such as pears and cider to patrons.

Jane and Ray Burmester were loving the show jumping!

The opportunity to see so much world-class sporting action has been amazing, and those who have taken it up have made the most of it.

Here’s some comments that some have provided to me about their experiences to date.

Julie Butson

This is my first time at the Games and having done other world class events such as Olympics and Burghley, it’s right up there! I think they have done a fabulous job of the venue in the time frame and as the NZ team said, in 6 months time it will be amazing! Generally I think it has run smoothly and folk have been understanding. The local area and service providers will be better placed in the future. And of course it’s just unfortunate with the weather disrupting the event a little. The local sights like Biltmore provided a wonderful day out last week and the local villages are cute and providing all amenities. We have also headed to pretty Asheville. Would definately come back if they run WEG here again.

Jude Nickolls:

I totally agree with Julie. It’s been wonderful and the venue is spectacular under the circumstances. I think we are very lucky Tryon put their hand up to run it at such short notice. I would love to come back in the future as it will be an amazing place once it is finished. The ocal towns and people are so lovely too and even had a chat to Tryon’s Mayor in The Coffeehouse in Tryon. Best coffee around!!!

Even the plastic cups were happy!

Brent Cheeseman

I am impressed by the general organisation and facilities and how they worked to improve roads and walkways before the storm. A personal highlight was getting the opportunity to do a course walk with Jock Paget and a small group of Kiwis including squad member Greer Caddigan who proudly wore her squad shirt and riding attire.  Jock walked the various lines and explained the multiple options and yesterday we were able to get much closer to the fences than we were expecting. At fence 8 we were just one metre away from the red flag so we could see the lines he explained close up. Thanks Jock!

As happens at all large events there is some queuing for food. The coffee outlets didn’t know what a flat white was on Wednesday but someone must have explained it as now, if you’re lucky, you can get something closely resembling a flat white. The dressage was wonderful and Kiwis should be proud of Julie’s performance.

The venue is impressive and the town of Hendersonville is picturesque.

Brent Cheeseman, having a great time!

Robyne Naylor

We have been enjoying your posts. We are in Ashville about 50miles from Tryon. On The Wet Sunday, we sat around and commisserated on the cancellation of the Freestyle! Everyone has made the most of their time at the Games and thoroughly enjoyed themselves, in particular the Dressage.