Here it is, my final parting shot from WEG – it might not be the last thing I say about it, but this will be the last post I dedicate entirely to it. I have to clear my mental shelves between now and my flight to Amsterdam tomorrow night. Gotta make room for GDF next week, which I’m sure will still be pure awesomeness even if we don’t get to pat Totilas after all. Then, the following week I’ll be working on a case of deep vein thrombosis by flying home from Europe and then 30 hours later boarding a plane to Taipei for the FEI General Assembly – which is sure to be such a humdinger that I just can’t stay away this year. But I’m getting ahead of myself….first, some final numbers (real, imagined or never-to-be-released) from the land of Kentucky Fried Everything.
Yesterday afternoon I received a ‘WEG by the numbers’ press release that included the following statistics. I added some extra information of my own that might bring the WEG experience a little closer to those of you who didn’t make Kentucky part of your travel plans for this year. My bits are the part after the dash:
• 507,022 attendees – that count includes 62,000 non-paying school children, 6,000 volunteers, 1,000 media, 632 athletes plus their grooms, coaches, parents, kids, dogs and bedbugs (with teeny tiny credentials around their necks).
• 16,800 feet of bike barricade – horses, bikes, what’s the diff? According to the freeway rules in KY, bicycles and ‘animals on foot’ are both forbidden.
• 8 miles of linear fencing – as opposed to right-brain, nonlinear fencing, of which there was much – but it kept changing its mind and couldn’t be counted.
• 396 temporary structures – and 396 patches of dead grass.
• 70 temporary power generators – really? Only 70? I could have sworn there were hundreds of them – maybe they didn’t count the generators smaller than a semi-trailer.
• 59 miles of electrical cable – because each generator was strategically placed several miles from the appliances that required its power – not really, but sometimes it seemed that way.
• 20,000 temporary seats – which could be read to mean that the main stadium, on a permanent basis, seats only 25 people.
• more than 11,000 signs placed around the park – 11,000 of which said “Alltech”.
• 500 flags –442 of which were Alltech flags.
• 30,000 feet of extension cord – do we really need a break down of ‘power cables’ as opposed to ‘extension cord’? Why don’t you tell us what really matters, such as how many tickets were sold?
• 632 athletes – 632 of the world’s best equestrian athletes by anyone’s accounting.
• 752 horses – plus a few dozen Saddlebreds.
• 58 countries – I have to give it to them – that’s another cool statistic about this WEG.
• More than 100,000 servings of Kentucky Ale brand beers poured – cha-ching Alltech! At 7 bucks each (total haul: $700,000). Beer at the Lexington harness track is a buck, as are the entrance fee and the hot dogs. Parking is free. No one who can fight his or her way out of a wet paper bag would have called WEG a ‘deal’.
• 1,734 Maker’s Mark bottles dipped in red wax at the station inside the Kentucky Experience – could someone please explain this one to me? Aren’t all Maker’s Mark bottles dipped in red wax? And more importantly, why would this matter to anyone who has even the faintest pulse?
• 175,220 pounds of recyclable and compostable materials removed from the park – most of which consisted of uneaten meals purchased at the venue.
• 1.1 million meals served to spectators, staff, athletes and volunteers – total weight: 175,224 pounds.
• 56 percent of waste diverted from landfills through green initiatives – dudes, you can’t count horse manure.
• 500 temporary toilet facilities – all of which ran out of paper.
• 7.6 million page views to the Games web site from September 25 through October 10 – 7 million of them were dressage fans looking for the detailed scoring which was never made available.
• 193 countries represented in web site visitors – okay, that one’s cool too.
• 62,707 school children visited the Games thanks to Alltech – thanks Dr. Pearse!
• 79,802 Facebook fans…and still counting! – I bet Totilas has more fans than that.
• 6,000 AWESOME volunteers – there is no disputing that this was the friendliest, most patient and cold-weather resistant group of volunteers in the history of horse sport.
• 112,368 cars parked – and in a numeric miracle of pure WEG magic, one million cars stuck in traffic after big days and nights such as freestyles and cross country. Another note: at $20 a pop, that’s roughly 2.25 MILLION DOLLARS collected in parking fees, which might even top WEF’s stabling income for a similar period of time.
• 326,260 trips to and from the Games taken through the main entry transport mall – one way only, since there were no re-entry privileges despite the availability of the technology to allow it (thanks to those friendly volunteers I was able to achieve re-entry status on my husband’s and his friend’s freestyle tickets after we all learned too late that they were going to be stuck in fetlock-land all day instead of visiting distilleries, which is a much better warm up for dres
sage to music).
• 16,000 caps, 5,000 walking sticks, and 1,000 saddle pads sold in the merchandise store – caps because they were a good looking, useful and cheap souvenir (I bought two), walking sticks to aid in the traversing of enormous distances at the venue, and saddle pads to provide a soft arrival when the seat in the stadium was eventually achieved.
• 11 months– youngest credentialed person; the son of press officers John and Heather Strassburger – Isabell Werth would like to know why her 10 month old son Frederik did not receive an accreditation – were they all given away to the bed bugs?
Here are a couple of other number-related items that merit further research – that’ll be my job, not yours of course. Yesterday it was reported in the Lexington Herald-Leader that the actual tickets-sold figures are never going to released. Instead, the WEGanizers sent out a list of the top five states and top ten foreign countries that visited WEG. Amy Walker, whose email address has been the source of most of the WEG correspondence and press releases sent out over the past year, was quoted as follows: “This is all the information we will be releasing.” Ever? I’m sorry but you just can’t tell me Ticketmaster forgot to keep track. I feel a swear word coming on….bullshit.
And one more bit of BS to send your way. After all my nagging and shirt sleeve tugging of the longsuffering staff in the WEG media centre, I finally had a light bulb moment yesterday and emailed Trond Asmyr (FEI Dressage Director) about the absence of those detailed judges’ marks we have become so used to getting at major championships. Let me paraphrase the correspondence that followed:
Trond said according to the FEI dressage rule Article 434 and its ‘interpretation’, the dressage TD (Dr. Markowski) decided the article meant that the scores must not be given to anyone but the rider. After consulting the rules and finding the following in article 435 (434 doesn’t refer to the matter at hand in the slightest), I sent another message to Trond, only partly succeeding in keeping myself from using ALL CAPS, many exclamation marks and various symbols such as @!#$%:
At FEI Senior Continental Championships, Regional Games, FEI WorldChampionships, FEI World Cup Dressage Finals and Olympic Games, the score given by each judge for each movement performed by the participants must be made available in spreadsheet form (one form for each athlete) for the use of judges, athletes, Chefs d’Equipe and the media.
Why my boiling blood? Two reasons: 1. I felt like I was getting the brush off (out, damned spot) and 2. someone was assuming I was too stupid or lazy to find my way to the rules and check the veracity of said someone’s dismissive response. Trond has now assured me he will do his best to get the detailed results to me as quickly as possible – but he also said he will do so by contacting the scoring company, SCG – that would be the same company I emailed a week ago and have yet to hear back from. I was also requested to look to the future and not be fussed with little details like assigning blame. A couple of salient points: that rule is NOT NEW (see, there I go using caps); the policy has been in place for YEARS, and not only did the media gain access to the detailed scores at the last WEG And Olympics, so could the public on the competition’s website. Not assign blame? Not hold anyone accountable for this? You know who I’m reminded of right about now? Mariette and her regime of ‘information on a need-to-know basis – and you don’t need to know.’
The timing is actually quite exquisite, since the GDF is only five days away. I’m sure that I’ll have plenty of opportunities to speak to people directly about this ‘blameless’ oversight which included the FEI Dressage Director either ignoring a rule or being ignorant of it. I am no longer a lurid green colour (remember the Incredible Hulk? ‘Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry), but boy am I going to hang onto this one like a Jack Russell on a rat’s tail.