Challenge of the Americas Teams Ready to Meet the Challenge in High Jump and Quadrille on March 8 in Wellington, FL
WELLINGTON, FL - March 6, 2008 - The 27 riders competing on three international teams in the Challenge of the Americas are geared up and ready to face off on March 8, 2008, in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL. In its seventh edition, this annual fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation features Grand Prix dressage in Musical Quadrilles and Grand Prix show jumping in High Jump competition.
Last year, the overall winner of the Challenge of the Americas was Team Can/Am SSG Gloves. Team USA Purina Mills placed second. Team International Morgan Stanley was third. These three teams will once again compete in a head-to-head showdown, this year under the brilliant lights of the International Arena.
Show Jumpers Ready to Defend
In the High Jump Phase last year, Team USA placed first. Team International was second, and Team Can/Am was third.
Show jumper Ainsley Vince of Canada participated in the 2007 Challenge paired with Eric Lamaze and is looking forward to competing with her new team mates this year - Karen Cudmore and Erynn Ballard. Ballard will be a competitive edge for Team Can/Am SSG Gloves, Ainsley noted. "I think Erynn has the biggest horse, for sure! He's at least two hands higher than mine!" Vince said.
Vince also believes the new location at the International Arena is an advantage for Team Can/Am. "Since it's at the International Arena, we'll be on our own turf," Vince pointed out.
While Team Can/Am was the overall winner of the Challenge last year, they placed third in the High Jump, which is a motivating factor for Vince. "Canada was the overall winner, so we're going to try and defend that title. We didn't win the show jumping last year, so we're going to have to win this year because Canada is the defending champion!" vowed Vince. "My horses rested last week so they should be good and ready by the time we get there."
Vince is also enthusiastic about helping to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. "It's a great cause and I think I speak for our whole team when I say we're all so proud to be a part of the Challenge," Vince said. "We're the defending champions, but it's such a great cause that no matter what team you're on, everybody's thrilled to work for it."
Candace King and Todd Minikus were partnered last year on the winning show jumping squad for Team USA Purina Mills and they will be back this year, joined by newcomer Ashley Fleischhacker. King described the competitive edge she sees for Team USA Purina Mills, saying, "I know that Todd and I are pretty game competitors. When there's a challenge and pressure, we like to step up to the challenge - and that's what we did last year. Now, having Ashley on our team, that will really be exciting."
King and Minikus also enjoy sponsorship from Purina Mills in their show jumping careers, and King acknowledged that she enjoys representing them in the Challenge of the Americas. "Purina is really behind us and really helps us all year long with our horses and all our efforts, so it's fun to have the camaraderie and fight for them," King said.
King is also pleased to be able to help the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and noted, "It's a great cause that we're doing it for."
Quadrille Teams Ready to Rock
Team Can/Am SSG Gloves won the Quadrille phase last year. Team International Morgan Stanley was second. Team USA placed third.
For 2008, Team International Morgan Stanley is ready to up the ante and has enlisted Beth Zimski as coach and choreographer, and Marlene Whitaker of Custom Freestyles, Inc. to create the soundtrack.
Zimski, who has choreographed for the Challenge every year for seven years, described the competitive edge that Team International has this year. "We've got some fresh people, some new riders, and they've taken to it like ducks to water!" beamed Zimski. "They're enthusiastic and their work ethic is outstanding. They knew the choreography the second time they did it, and that's a good indication of how good they are."
Zimski also noted that Team International's enthusiasm for the cause is also a strong motivator for them. "Everybody on Team International is enthusiastic about the cause," Zimski said. "Karen Lipp and her friends in Atlanta raised $15,000 for the Partners in Pink. The team really goes after it because they really believe in the cause."
A veteran of seven years, Zimski is pleased to see that so many of the riders are returning participants. "It's so flattering how many people come back and ask to be part of it year after year," she noted.
Marlene Whitaker, who produced Team International's soundtrack this year from Zimski's music selections noted, "This team has really captured the heart of the motivation of this event - breast cancer, which captures everybody's interest in this. They have directly focused on the cause and whatever it takes to help, they'll do it. It's their message this year - and it's always their message as the teams entertain, but this year they spoke directly to the heart of the issue. That was moving."
Whitaker noted that one member of Team International's quadrille riders is a breast cancer survivor. "We all know a friend or a relative who's been touched by this disease," Whitaker pointed out, adding, "So the music this year speaks directly to why everyone gathers together and puts out this effort for the cause."
2008 Challenge of the Americas Teams
Team USA Purina Mills
Quadrille: Lynda Alicki, Pamela Goodrich, Chris Hickey, Susan Jaccoma, Bent Jensen, and Betsy Steiner. Coach: George Williams. Choreographer: Terry Ciotti-Gallo of Klassic Kur. Jumpers: Todd Minikus, Candace King, Ashley Fleischhacker, and Emily Williams.
Team International Morgan Stanley
Quadrille: Marco Bernal, Patrick Burssens, Mikala Munter Gundersen, Karen Lipp, Cathy Morelli, and Silke Rembacz. Coach/Choreographer/Music: Beth Zimski. Soundtrack: Marlene Whitaker of Custom Freestyles, Inc. Jumpers: Eduardo Salas, Eric Flameng, and Darragh Kerrins.
Team Can/Am SSG Gloves
Quadrille Simone Williams, Jacqueline Paxton, Kayce Redmond, Chris Saunders, Tara Stegen, and Gary Vander Ploeg. Coach: Eva-Marie Pracht. Jumpers: Karen Cudmore, Ainsley Vince, and Erynn Ballard.
The High Jump counts for 40% of the total score. Steve Stephens, a course designer for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, will create the design for the High Jump.
The Musical Quadrille counts for 60% of the total score. Judging the Musical Quadrille will be three top-tier USA judges: Linda Zang (O), Gary Rockwell (I), Anne Gribbons (O), Carol Lavell (R), and Lois Yukins (I).
2008 Challenge of the Americas
Schedule Of Festivities
Palm Beach International Equestrian Center
Equestrian Club Road
6:00 p.m. Patrons and Sponsors Cocktails and Hors D'oeuvres - International Club
6:30 p.m. "Salute to America" - Steffen Peters
6:45 p.m. "In Memory of Judy" - Lauren Sammis
7:00 p.m. Challenge of the Americas - Musical Quadrille and Jumper Extravaganza
8:00 p.m. Awards Ceremony
8:15 p.m. The Challenge Gala - International Club
General Admission Dancing - International Arena
Gold Table Patron: $6,500
Premier seating for 8 (eight) at The Challenge of the Americas and The Challenge Gala; Patron table signage; Gold Level acknowledgement event programs and on promotional posters displayed throughout the Wellington community.
Silver Table Patron: $4,500
Prominent seating for 8 (eight) at The Challenge of the Americas and The Challenge Gala; Patron acknowledgement in the event programs and on promotional posters displayed throughout the Wellington community.
Bronze Table Patron: $2,000
VIP seating for 8 (eight) at The Challenge of the Americas and The Challenge Gala.
Individual Patron: $250
VIP seating at The Challenge of the Americas and The Challenge Gala.
General Admission: $20
Tickets available at the PBIEC entrance gate on the night of the event; seating is in the blue flip-up stadium style seats overlooking the International Arena. Dancing following the competition is included.
For tickets, table reservations, and information about the 2008 Challenge of the Americas, contact Mary Ross at 561-852-2591.
PHOTO CAPTION: Candace King in the High Jump at the 2007 PhelpsSports.com Challenge of the Americas. PHOTO CREDIT: Susan Stickle.
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