Beezie Madden, U.S.’ most decorated female equestrian, to change focus after Tokyo Olympics

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Beezie Madden, the most decorated U.S. female equestrian in Olympic history, announced that she will be changing her competition focus after the Tokyo Games, increasing her efforts in developing young horses and riders.

Madden, one of four riders on U.S. Equestrian’s early Olympic team short list, will continue the selection process for Tokyo, which includes two observation events between May and June. The team is expected to be announced on June 23.

While Madden won’t be actively seeking any future Olympics or international competitions representing the U.S., she hasn’t ruled anything out in the future despite her change in focus.

“I don’t exclude any of that for sure,” she said. “If I happen to still have a horse of the quality, and it looks like we could be a combination to help the U.S. team in any way, in any competition, I’m certainly not going to turn it down. But I would say it’s unlikely that will happen because it’s hard enough to make the team when it is your main focus.”

After Tokyo, Madden will still compete, but she’ll play a bigger role with John Madden Sales, the training and sales business she and her husband, John Madden, run in Cazenovia, N.Y. and Wellington, Fla.

“My focus is just going to switch more from my part of the sport to a little more of the business part of the sport and also helping develop young horses and young riders to the championship level,” she said.

For John Madden Sales, developing a horse typically means jumping training that starts around 4 years old and giving them competition experience all over the world. Horses must be at least 9 years old to compete in show jumping at the Olympics.

In addition, Madden currently has a handful of students who compete in high-level competitions, but she is looking to increase that number and potentially teach clinics and open up opportunities for a working student.

“We look forward to helping a few talented young riders grow in their horsemanship and Grand Prix careers,” she said in a statement on Facebook. “If we can serve the US Team by being a small part of preparing the next generation of horses and horsemen, we suspect those victories will feel just as sweet as the ones we stood in the ring for.”

Madden, 56, is a four-time Olympian and four-time medalist. At the 2004 Athens Games, she took team gold aboard Authentic, one of her most successful horses, in her Olympic debut. Four years later, she and Authentic helped defend the U.S.’ team title in Beijing and also won individual bronze.

After a disappointing London Games in 2012 where the team finished sixth and she and Coral Reef Via Volo were eliminated in individual competition, she secured a team silver in Rio with Cortes ‘C.’ Madden became the oldest female U.S. Olympic medalist in any sport since 1904.

In 2018, she became the oldest rider to win the World Cup Final at age 54 aboard Breitling LS and was the traveling reserve at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, N.C. She also won the World Cup Final in 2013 with her horse Simon.

The U.S. qualified for the Tokyo Olympic show jumping team event by winning the 2018 World Equestrian Games.

As the No. 1 ranked U.S. rider based on average points earned, Madden is one of the first four riders on the short list for Tokyo. By April 20, the short list will be expanded to 10 riders who will go on to compete in two observation events.

Madden is also a five-time Pan-Am medalist, most recently picking up team and individual bronze in 2019 with Breitling LS, and a four-time World Equestrian Games medalist (double silver in 2006 and double bronze in 2014). She was the first woman to pass the $1 million earnings mark in show jumping.

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Beezie, John and all of Team JMS want to first take a moment to thank all our friends, fans, and supporters whom have…

Posted by Beezie Madden / John Madden Sales, Inc on Saturday, February 15, 2020

Rewind: Australia’s Steven Bradbury gains gold and lasting fame after pileup takes out Apolo Ohno

Steven Bradbury
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Heading into the 2002 Winter Olympics, young American Apolo Ohno was a phenom with a legitimate shot at multiple medals in short-track speedskating.

The 1999 world junior champion and future “Dancing with the Stars” champion had finished first in the World Cup season standings in all three individual disciplines in the 2000-01 season. In the 2001 world championships, he took gold in the relay and the 3,000m (a non-Olympic event), silver in the 1,000m and fourth in the 1,500m.

Australia’s Steven Bradbury was at the other end of his career, enduring all sorts of misfortune in the years that followed — a 1995 accident in which he needed more than 100 stitches after a skate blade sliced his thigh, then a 2000 accident in which he broke two vertebra in his neck. 

The highlights of Bradbury’s career were relay world championships medals — gold in 1991, bronze in 1993, silver in 1994. He and his relay teammates also took Olympic bronze in 1994.

Bradbury barely advanced to one individual final, the 1,000m in 2002. He advanced from the quarterfinal when Canadian favorite Marc Gagnon was disqualified. He advanced from the semifinal when multiple skaters fell.

In the final, Bradbury was matched up against three outstanding skaters, including Ohno and Li Jiajun of China, who won this event and the overall title at the 2001 world championships. Ohno and Li had finished 1-2 in the 1,000m World Cup standings in 2001.

Bradbury couldn’t keep up. The other four skaters were in a pack, making dangerous passes among each other, while Bradbury fell further and further behind.

Those dangerous passes finally caught up to the rest of the field in the final turn. Li bumped into Ohno, which would lead to Li’s disqualification. After the lead pack jockeyed for position through the entire race, all four tumbled to the ice.

Bradbury, the last man standing, crossed the finish line first.

 

From the tangled pile-up, Ohno managed to fling himself, skate-first, across the finish line to take silver. Canada’s Mathieu Turcotte made it across for bronze.

Ohno wasn’t done in Salt Lake City. He won the 1,500m gold after the disqualification of Kim Dong-Sung, a controversial decision that made Ohno the object of South Korean derision.

Less controversially, Ohno won three more individual world championship events from 2005 to 2009, plus two relay golds, and the overall world title in 2008. In the Olympics, he took six more medals, including gold in the 500m in 2006 and silver in the 1,500m in 2010.

Bradbury missed the finals in the other two events in Salt Lake City, but his name lives on in the Urban Dictionary and elsewhere as a synonym for an improbable and even accidental victory. He embraced his unique place in history to carve out a career as a motivational speaker delivering more than 1,000 speeches in 19 countries, according to the International Skating Union and has even seen his win commemorated in Legos.

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Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier form new figure skating pair

Brandon Frazier
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A few weeks after her husband and skating partner, Chris Knierim, stepped away from competitive figure skating, Alexa Scimeca Knierim has a new partner.

Brandon Frazier, who was also looking for someone to form a new pair after longtime partner Haven Denney stepped away from competition, at least temporarily, will join Scimeca Knierim on the ice whenever they’re able to train and compete again.

Frazier is a longtime friend of Chris Knierem. Scimeca Knierim told U.S. Figure Skating’s FanZone that Frazier had played a pivotal role in kindling the Knierem’s off-ice romance.

Denney and Frazier won the U.S. championship in 2017 and finished 20th in the world championships that year. They finished third in their two Grand Prix assignments last fall — Skate America and the Internationaux de France. They were runners-up in the 2019 U.S. championships and fifth this year, when they revived their “Lion King” free skate.

The Denney-Frazier pair took an unusual path to figure skating, starting as roller skaters.

The Knierims won their third U.S. championship in January but handed their slot in the world championships to Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson when Chris Knierim, struggling with his form and depression, decided he was unable to continue beyond the Four Continents Championship. The world championships were later canceled due to the spread of the coronavirus.

READ: Resilient Knierims withdraw from world championships

The couple had earned attention for their romance and for their inspirational returns from illness and injury. Their U.S. championship win earlier this year was their third.

Skate America, the first event on the Grand Prix circuit, is scheduled to start Oct. 23 in Las Vegas.

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