World-class course designer, Michel Vaillancourt has been named the Jump Canada Official of the Year for 2016.
Born in St-Félix-de-Valois, QC, Vaillancourt currently lives in Aiken, SC and has been an FEI Level 4 course designer since 2012, setting tracks all over the world at top show jumping competitions.
In September 2016 Vaillancourt had the honour of being selected as the course designer for the CSI 5* International Longines Horse Show of Lausanne, held on Lake Geneva in Switzerland. He also served as assistant course designer for the CSIO 5* La Baule, which took place in May in France.
Vaillancourt was also highly acclaimed as the course designer for the jumping portion of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games at the Caledon Equestrian Park last July. Toronto marked his first time as the lead course designer at a major games, and his courses received many accolades from the athletes, including individual gold medalist McLain Ward of the United States, who praised Vaillancourt’s work, stating, “I think that Michel is a top-class, top-five course builder in the world. He has a wonderful feel for the test and also the artistic side.”
In preparation for the Games, Vaillancourt dedicated over two years to refining his designs and courses. A proud Canadian, he was determined to ensure every jump of every course had Canuck flavour and represented the country from coast-to-coast. His final products included a much-photographed Toronto skyline and CN Tower wall, a jump fashioned out of iconic Muskoka chairs, a wall picturing the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and a meticulous re-creation of the beautiful Cisco railway bridge in British Columbia.
Vaillancourt is known for producing challenging yet fair courses that ask modern questions and produce good sport. His goal at a competition is to build day-by-day with the result that horses leave performing better and stronger than when they arrived. He attributes his success as a course designer to his success as a horseman. And he certainly had no shortage of accolades in the saddle.
At the age of 22, Vaillancourt became the youngest rider in history to win an Olympic medal in show jumping (a record he still holds today) after claiming the individual silver at the 1976 Montreal Olympics aboard Branch County. This performance also put him into the history books as the first Canadian to win an individual medal in equestrian at the Games. In addition, Vaillancourt was part of the Canadian Show Jumping Team at the 1975 and 1979 Pan American Games, bringing home team bronze and silver medals, respectively. He also helped Canada to team gold at the 1980 Alternate Olympics in Rotterdam, NED.
In 2009, Vaillancourt was inducted into the Jump Canada Hall of Fame in the Rider category for his incredible accomplishments.
He was announced as the 2016 Jump Canada Official of the Year Award on Nov. 6 at the Jump Canada Hall of Fame Gala in Toronto, ON.
“I feel very honoured considering the talent that Canada puts forward year after year,” said Vaillancourt. “It’s very nice to be recognized in this way. I would like to thank everyone who supports the work I do for our sport.”
First introduced in 2004, the Jump Canada Official of the Year Award was created to shed light on the talented and knowledgeable officials who help ensure EC sanctioned competitions are safe, fair, and fun for all participants. For a full list of recipients, click here.