I'll go more in depth when I upload pictures and videos. (Videos will be a bit since I have to get them from George who kindly recorded all our runs again this year).
Travel: Everything went smoothly meeting Monique and flying out from Newark to Brussels Sunday night. We were on a large 777 that seemed brand new on both flights (there and back) and the takeoff, landing, and entire 7+ hours airborne were very smooth and comfortable. We had Economy Plus seating and it was fabulous to have footspace. Car rental went well, I didn't spin the tires or stall it out even though I haven't driven a manual shifting car in more than 3 years. We did a bit of sight seeing on Monday between naps to catch up on sleep.
Tuesday we drove the hour or so to the hotel for the rest of the week. Wed/Thurs we had practice at the site, check-in, vet checks, and measuring. Kiba measured high for her, at 460mm. They still "don't know" the cutoff for the 525mm jump height next year, but I'm absolutely sure she fits into it. Practices both went well, aside from proofing my aframe a bit, we didn't encounter any snags.
Friday we started with Individual Pentathlon Agility 1 and I don't know exactly what cue Kiba thought she saw, but it wasn't the one I was intending her to see, and we incurred an unfortunate elimination right there in the first run of the weekend. This was a bit of a shock to my system, as Kiba and I are usually pretty reliable about staying on just about any course. A bad start to the weekend for sure. Our other morning run was Snooker, and again we had a weird miscue where she went behind me despite a side cue which lost us some opening points and flustered me a bit (had to remember which jump was 2 for the closing!) and then I mishandled the weave entry for her and we ended up with only 25 points.
Friday afternoon started with Individual Pentathlon Jumping 1, which was a nice course, and we laid down a solid clean run for 7th place (among more than 50 dogs in our height class). Next we ran Team Jumping 1 for Team USA, which was a very difficult and twisty course. She hit the wall and the extended double, but got around the course with no other faults which wasn't bad for the Team. I discovered she had thrown her neck out on a silly faceplant in another run, and once that was fixed she didn't knock any other bars all weekend.
Saturday morning started with 2 Individual Pentathlon runs. Unfortunately we started the day with another mishap involving an E for our score, so sadly our chances of doing well were totally shot by 9am. Oh well. We did ace the Jumping 2 round though for 2nd place (a ribbon yay!) on a very tough course which I was very happy to have run nicely. We also ran Team Agility 2 this morning, and put in a solid clean run (.72 over time because I held contacts and we had a bit of a detour on the way to the weave poles).
Saturday afternoon was Gamblers, and since our 25point Snooker put us out of contention for a medal, I decided to go ahead and go for the podium for the individual class at least. (more ribbons!!!) This meant little Kiba would have to do 4 extended spread jumps (20.6" back bar, 16" front bar, 20.6" apart!) Luckily, despite her dislike of spreads, I had put in a lot of work on this jump leading into the event, even teaching her a distinct verbal cue to remind her to look at and gauge the jump. And she did great! Didn't touch a bar, even though she had to jump 6 spreads between the opening and closing, and we ended up 3rd place with USA sweeping the 525mm height for Gamblers.
Because I didn't make the Pentathlon Final for Individual due to my 2 E's (we were 3 dogs below the cutoff!), I was concerned that i wouldn't get to run Sunday, but the Team Relay Final ended up being a twisty, difficult course that required a combination of speed, skill, and "cool under pressure", so Kiba was selected as the 525 dog for the Relay. I was happy knowing I would get to run that day, as I am very bad at being purely a spectator! It was fun watching the Individual Finals all day, but I was anxious to run myself. And the Relay was a lot of fun, I ran last with all the pressure on, and I loved it! We ran fast and clean, and our Team won the Relay and got 3rd overall in the Pentathlon for a bronze medal!
So Kiba came home with:
7th in Ind Pentathlon Jumping 1
2nd in Ind Pentathlon Jumping 2
3rd in Gamblers
11th overall in Games Combined
Clean run in Team Agility 2
Clean run in Team Relay
3 solid runs contributed to 3rd in Team Pentathlon Overall for Team USA
balanced out by the bad - 2 runs with an E and a 25point Snooker. So I guess the good definitely tips in that direction and overall I'm happy - but there was room for improvement. I am on the fence about next year. I will wait and see if Team Management changes (they are concerned about focusing on their own dogs next year), if selection criteria seems reasonable, and if travel seems doable....
I had a great time with the team, it was a fun group of people who tried to include everyone in their cheers and good times, and I had some nice conversations with people I didn't know well or don't see often.
Tonight i will try to stay up until it's at least night time (or close) and get back onto a decent sleep schedule. I definitely had more trouble sleeping on this trip than I did to England both years, which is odd since that's not usually an issue for me more than the first night in a new place.
Here's a picture of Kiba. not in Belgium, but she's the star right now and deserves to be on here.