EQUESTRIAN Germans eventually crowned; appeal likely
XATHENS, Greece -- On the road to gold, they jumped over more hurdles and obstacles than their high-performance steeds.
Germany's riders won the gold medal Wednesday in the grueling three-day event -- but not before losing it, and then winning it back, in a bizarre flurry of judging decisions and reversals.
The United States, Britain and France -- the three teams caught in the middle of the judges' indecision -- vowed to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, hoping to reverse a dramatic turnabout that for a fleeting moment gave the U.S. team the bronze in horsemanship's equivalent of the decathlon.
It was a day of confusion that seemed out of place in equestrian, a sport known for its elegance, poise and politesse.
First, the judges gave Germany the gold and France the silver, while Britain took bronze.
But the same officials, concerned that Germany's Bettina Hoy might have crossed the start line twice on the show jumping course, decided to probe further.
The judges then decided to dock Germany 14 points, dropping it from first place to fourth with 147.8 points in a decision that lifted the United States to third and the bronze.
Germany then lodged a protest, an equestrian appeals committee reversed the decision of the judges -- and the Germans reclaimed their gold. Once again, France was awarded the silver and Britain the bronze. The United States was left empty-handed.
Lost in the shuffle was the United States, which fell out of medal contention when Kim Severson rolled the top plank off the last jump in the show-jumping phase of the team event.
In its review, the appeals committee noted that the timer that runs during the event had not started when Hoy, atop Ringwood Cockatoo, was signaled to begin her round.
"When the bell rang, you have 45 seconds to start," Hoy said. "I saw on the clock I still had time, and so I made another circle."
Thomas defended Hoy, who went on to win the individual three-day gold Wednesday night. Leslie Law of Britain won the silver aboard Shear L'Eau, and America's Severson on Winsome Adante took the bronze.