Team USA consisted of Jeannette Hutchison and Reno, JRT (who didn’t fault all weekend); Brenda Buja and Stella, Staffordshire Bull Terrier (the only one, and even the staid hotel maids loved her); Stacy Peardot and Secret, BC (who earned the Individual gold medal); and me with Spring, BC (who won both Standard classes and was called “the American mix” by her fans).
What a thrill to be part of this inaugural event! The IFCS Agility World Championships is a new tournament open to all dogs, mixed breeds and purebreds alike. Each team consisted of two small and two large dogs, and scores were combined for all four members of the team, yielding one cumulative score per country. This was my favorite part of the format. In IFCS competition, no scores are dropped. Standard and Jumpers runs from both heights were part of each country’s cumulative Team score. Team USA went up and down in the standings as the competition went on, and eventually emerged with top honors overall.
In addition to the Team classes, a Standard and Jumpers Individual class were run. Stacy Peardot and Secret won the overall Individual gold medal. Secret was positively brilliant on the slippery carpet, winning the Jumpers classes in both Team and Individual. Secret had the best combination of speed and tight, efficient turns, wrapping around the inside stanchions where other dogs went wide.
The grand finale of the weekend was a 4-Dog Relay class which included all team members. In the Relay, there was a small dog side and a large dog side of the course, and we could choose which order we ran our dogs. All of us on Team USA have run a lot of Relays, but we all agreed that this particular Relay course, by the handsome Russian judge Grigory Maniov, was the most difficult we had ever seen! As it turned out, Team USA became the only team to post all four legs clean on that course. It was thrilling to rise to that challenge. I don’t know about my teammates, but I have never set that course up in practice since! I have the utmost respect, tinged with fear, for it.
IFCS put incredible thought and effort into this new tournament, and did a smooth and efficient job of running a complicated event. Scores were posted immediately along with cumulative standings. Each competitor got a printed copy of the scoring matrix at the closing ceremonies. At every turn, from registration and competitor comforts to the handling of the queue and leashes and entry/exit areas, every detail was in place and there were no misunderstandings, even with all the different languages in use. All the officials were efficient and able to tell/show us what to do even without speaking our language. We expected some first-time glitches in this tournament, but we couldn’t see any.
We learned so much! Ken Tatsch had prepared us with what to bring and do. In Moscow, we were treated to a couple days of amazing sightseeing in the most expert and congenial hands. We had our own driver (such wild traffic and no road rage!), and we enjoyed the wonderful local food and hangouts. We worked diligently, though rather badly, with the difficult language. The Russians loved our dogs. And the IFCS even broke the ice with a casual barbecue before the event, featuring horseback rides and a chance for our dogs to stretch their legs.
We did earn the Team gold medal in Moscow, and we were proud to do that together as Team USA. We loved rooting for all the great Agility we saw there. The more tournaments to showcase as many great dogs and handlers as possible, the better for the sport. The more accessible the world becomes, the more US teams will be able to compete internationally in person, which so enhances the standard of our game. In Moscow we were humbled by the tireless work and dedication of the IFCS so that all these dogs and people could play. From start to finish, we had a terrific experience on our trip to the first IFCS Championships.