Michel Vaillancourt announced on his Facebook page that he was not chosen as the course designer for the 2018 Bromont WEG. Vaillancourt, a level 4 course designer who was born in Quebec and earned the individual silver medal at the 1976 Olympics at the Bromont venue where the WEG will be held, was shocked by the decision. Vaillancourt did note that the decision isn’t yet official, but feels that show organizer, Roger Deslauriers, seems committed to his selection.
Vaillancourt was offered the opportunity to be co-course designer with Venezuelan Leopoldo Palacios, but rejected the proposal. He noted that course designers each have their own style and that his was very different from Palacios’s and felt that the two might not gel effectively.
Aside from being disappointed, Vaillancourt’s primary concern was the lack of support the decision showed for Canadian officials. “It’s discouraging for up-and-coming course designers and other officials to see that’s the way we are going to be treated.” He noted that is commonplace for major games to use the opportunity to showcase homegrown talent when possible (eg: Bob Ellis for London Olympics in 2012, Frederic Cottier for WEG 2014). “Being bypassed without any hesitation has really upset me. So unpatriotic. I’m not just a Canadian, I’m a French Canadian.”
Also an FEI level 4 course designer, Palacios has been the course designer at a number of major international events, including the 2000 and 2008 Olympic Games, and regularly acts as a consultant at championship facilities. He has been part of the Bromont Organizing Committee and was included as “Course and Equestrian Park Designer” in the bid book to the FEI.
Vaillancourt was the course designer for the Pan Am Games held in Ontario this summer. His courses received unanimous praise from all riders including this endorsement from McLain Ward after he won individual gold, “I think that Michel is a world-class, top-5 course builder in the world. He’s really an incredible horseman. He has a wonderful feel for the test and also the artistic side. I hope we get to see him more at the big events because I think he’s one of the very best.”
An official from WEG Bromont wasn’t immediately available for comment, but they did post this item on their Facebook page: “No show jumping course designers have been appointed by WEG 2018 Organizing Committee, contrary to what some might think. Official news will be posted on this page only, so make sure to keep up with us!”
Michel’s Facebook post from Oct. 2:
“Today is a sad day. As many of you know, the World Equestrian Games are coming to Bromont Canada in 2018 for the first time. I was really hoping to get the position of course designer for show jumping, especially due to the history that I have with that venue going back to the Olympic Games in 1976. Instead, the Organising Committee has chosen Leopoldo Palacios from Venezuela to lead the design team.
I guess for me the most disappointing issue is that course designers from America were once again snubbed. And it came from our own people and that I find inexcusable. Championship of that caliber may not come back to Canada for a long time so it will be a lost opportunity to showcase our talents, which we have. Of course I wish Mr Palacios and his team the best of luck to make these games great. I just wish that WEG 2018 would have been more patriotic.”
A selection of Facebook comments:
Eric Lamaze: Michel, you’re a world class course designer. As far as I’m concern, it’s simply their lost my friend.
Jimmy Torano: Inexcusable. Could’ve been Historical with your background at that Venue. Again inexcusable. And what organizing committee could be that blind to miss what is right in front of them?
McLain Ward: That is a true shame. The job you did at the Pan Am Games was top class.
Lauren Hough: Am very sorry to hear this…..you did a fantastic job @ the pan ams.