Reception Sponsored by USET Foundation and USEF Welcomes U.S. Athletes to the World Equestrian Games, Week 2, in Aachen, Germany

To welcome U.S. athletes competing in Week 2 (August 28-September 3) of the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Aachen, Germany, the USET Foundation and the U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) hosted a cocktail reception on August 30 at the Dorint Sofitel Quellenhof Aachen Hotel. The second week of the WEG features competition in show jumping, driving, and reining. The USET Foundation and the USEF also co-hosted a party during Week 1 (August 20-27) sponsored by Challenge of the Americas and Offield Farms, for the athletes competing in dressage, vaulting, endurance and eventing.

The reception provided athletes, owners, and supporters with the opportunity to mingle and converse about the tasks at hand for the WEG medal efforts during the second week of competition. Athletes in attendance included the show jumping team of Beezie Madden, Laura Kraut, Margie Engle, and McLain Ward; driving team members Tucker Johnson, Jim Fairclough, and Chester Weber; and the reining team of Aaron Ralston, Matt Mills, Dell Hendricks, and Tim McQuay. Two of the Chefs d’Equipe were also present – show jumping’s George Morris and reining’s Jeff Petska.

Welcoming remarks were provided by Sven Holmberg, first vice president of the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI). He thanked the audience for their attendance and urged everyone to enjoy their week in Aachen.

Armand Leone, president of the USET Foundation, delivered the keynote speech. He recognized the USET Foundation staff for their successful fundraising efforts to support the U.S. athletes competing in Aachen. Leone thanked the audience for their continued financial support to the USET Foundation as the U.S. prepares to go on to the 2008 Bejing Olympic Games, the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2010 in Kentucky, and the 2012 London Olympic Games.

David O’Connor, USEF president, spoke to the gathering next. He recognized and thanked the FEI members in attendance as well as the USEF discipline directors who were present. O’Connor called upon Show Jumping Chef d’Equipe George Morris for an impromptu speech.

Morris thanked the owners and riders in his discipline and noted that it was through their support that he has been able to come to competitions in Aachen for 38 years. Morris singled out team member Beezie Madden, this year’s recipient of the USET Foundation’s Whitney Stone Cup for her excellence as an international competitor, as “an inspiration to us all,” for her classic equitation.

O’Connor concluded the presentations by reviewing the upcoming week’s schedule of competitions in all three disciplines and encouraging the guests to attend as many of the events as possible. He closed by recounting the medals won so far by the U.S. athletes, which received a resounding round of applause.

Guests stayed on to enjoy the appetizers and refreshments in the stylish Quellenhof as they shared their enthusiasm and anticipation for the upcoming days of competition. Among the athletes, owners and supporters for the 2006 WEG were also athletes from past WEGs and Olympics including 2004 Athens Olympic Team Gold Medalist Peter Wylde and 1952 Helsinki Olympic Team Bronze Medalist Col. John Russell, who also served as coach of the 1956 Stockholm Olympic Pentathlon team.