Sports

Caledon’s Karl Slezak rides to Pan Am bronze medal

August 8, 2019   ·   0 Comments

Written By JAKE COURTEPATTE

Chock up a podium finish for the Caledon equestrian community.

Karl Slezak was one-fourth of the Canadian team that took home equestrian eventing bronze at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru, a three-day competition that wrapped up on Sunday.

Eventing, for those not within equestrian circles, refers to what amounts to be an equestrian triathlon: riders and their steeds compete in three days of a variety of competitions to test the skills of the pair, including dressage, cross country, and show jumping. It holds its roots as a military test to determine the mastery of the rider.

The experienced Slezak took his ten year old gelding, Fernhill Wishes, into day one of the competition on Friday, where he set his own personal record with a score of 27.7 points to put Canada in good standing after day one.

“It was fantastic,” said Slezak in a press release following the day of competition. “I was really focused on the quality today; there were a few little blips in the accuracy, but I was really pleased with it.

“We’ve got a great team,” he added. “They’re all super-supportive. We’ve had a lot of fun the last couple of weeks.”

Day two brought about the cross country portion of the event, which Slezak called “the heart of the sport” and “by far the most exciting.” Rider and horse navigate a natural terrain course to prove their worth, in the case of the Pan Am track, a 4.5-km test involving 26 obstacles and 35 jumps.

Slezak started out well on day two, once again aboard Fernhill Wishes, yet found trouble later in the track to incur a string of penalties and land in thirteenth place individually.

“It was riding well,” said Slezak. “He was a bit spooky at the beginning, as it was the first time he has seen crowds and was trying to figure out his lanes. There’s a lot to do at the beginning. I was a little bit down on the clock; going up to the mound at 23 I thought he jumped around it nicely but he almost slipped and I couldn’t make that turn. It was a bummer. Then he was back on it and he felt great to the end; he felt like he had lots of running still.”

Canada fell to third place heading into the final day of competition, a spot they held onto on show jumping day to land on the podium.

“He’s a fantastic jumper; he’s always so level and that probably was one of his more lively rounds,” said Slezak. “He came out feeling like a million bucks – he didn’t feel tired at all. For him to kind of be up on the last day, that’s good. He did what I wanted him to do and that’s all I can ask for.”

Slezak finished off the event with a score of 58.9 in the show jumping, good for a twelfth place finish overall.

The American squad finished atop the podium to clinch their 2020 Olympic berth, earning a total of 91.20 points to edge Team Brazil by over thirty points, who took the silver position.

Slezak owns and operates Wolf Run Farm in Caledon East.



         

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