Friday, October 2, 2009

Media Center Mis-Adventures from KY Cup Driving by Violet Forbes

Violet Forbes is an employee of Classis Communications, a consulting firm working with the World Games 2010 Foundation. With decades of experience in managing media centers at international competitions, Violet has seen it all--and isn't afraid to share! See below for her thoughts from Thursday and Friday... and follow her through the rest of Kentucky Cup Driving this weekend!

I arrived back in Kentucky to act as the press officer for the Kentucky Cup, the driving test event for the WEG 2010 Games.

For those if you who are familiar with me, you know I can never go anyplace without a saga or an opinion. For those of you who don’t know me but are reading this – be forewarned!
Well, here is the latest.

After a very rocky flight, I arrived in Lexington, and even though I did end up grabbing the little white bag out of the seat pocket - thankfully I did not have to use it, but it was touch and go for a while. I did keep my dignity and nothing went anywhere.

I got my first view of the Horse Park since Rolex in April and my how things are a’changin. . The new indoor arena is done and done well. I had snuck into it in April while it was still under construction and really liked it then – now that it is finished I think that it is spectacular. Wearing my Media Person hat, there was always one thing I really hated about indoor coliseums – I am always being parked at the tippy top. Not a great place for a semi blind person with a fear of heights, but also not great for anyone who likes to breathe. Not so in this new arena. The ventilation is well thought out (almost as if they consulted me) and the vendors, media, etc., are all on the main level.

I was heartsick to discover that the location of my lovely Media Center for Rolex, which has been my home for many a year, is now a construction site. I wonder what is going there – but then when I looked at where we will be in the future - just on the other side of the Steeplechase barn - I realize just how nice our media home will be for Rolex and the 2010 Games – flatter, higher and not right at the intersection of the main roads – I am excited. No more will we worry about where to put the lockers or televisions so that will no longer be the general turn around for all those lost souls who got their map of the Horse Park turned upside down. The WEG coming to the Horse Park will certainly make my life easier in the future.

For this driving test event I am in heaven – we are in the Tower of the main arena. I might not ever leave – I really like the Tower idea. I like it so much I might have to build one at home. I have the most incredible view of the Park with the arena and the fields all in view. To make life truly spectacular in the Tower, there are little brass disks in the floor at various spots which (brace yourself for it) have power and internet connections. This pleases the Queen of power strips and extension cords more than you can imagine.

In keeping with the theme of my life – the Tower also boasts real bathrooms with hot water and a flush mechanism as well as a little room with a fridge and microwave. As I said – I may never leave the Tower.

Getting around the Horse Park still requires quite a hike, but that is a minor trade-off for the amount of space that there is. I still go back to the miles long hike from the barns to the ring in Dublin. I would never have thought that I could walk so much to get to a relatively close arena in a few city blocks, so I will not complain about the peaceful and idyllic stroll through the Horse Park.

Day 2:
The morning dawned dark and chilly in Lexington. I have been to Lexington many times and I can honestly say that I have never packed correctly. This trip is proving to be much too chilly for the clothing that I brought. It may necessitate a quick trip to the local Walmart for a turtleneck or another fleece jacket. At least I can use those when I return to the North for the winter.

The jog for the Kentucky Cup was this afternoon and all went smoothly. By next year, there will be a new and improved area for all the jogs. This will leave me, and I am sure many others, looking for a way to explain how to get to the jog. For years we have directed people to the Grill On The Hill. Now that it is going to be moved – what landmark will I have to describe the location? I should have enough time before the Games begin to figure it out.

One thing I definitely have to figure out before next September is what to do with foreign keyboards. I had a very nice gentleman from Germany check in today and it turned into quite a circus when I tried to help him connect to our wireless network. Being the know-it-all that I am, I sat down in front of his computer and began to click and type away. I had at least a paragraph of pure gibberish on the screen before it dawned on me that his keyboard was totally different. What was the letter A doing way over to the right. My solution to the problem was to call pitifully for the IT guy and while we were waiting for help to arrive, I sent his files from my computer. While that was a quick fix, it is not going to work for next year. This is why we have test events!

Day 3:
I have always been awed by driving. Of course this is coming from a person who barely passed her driving road test (of course that was a million years ago and I have gotten a little better over the years – unfortunately I have also gotten blinder over the years so it evens out and I am still a bad driver).

The first thing that amazes me is that there are four horses. Every other discipline has one. The time and devotion required to get one horse to the top level of competition is bad enough. I can’t imagine having to prepare four and possibly five horses for international competition – having them at the peak of fitness both physically and mentally, having them all in tune to turn in a winning performance over three days.

Most international caliber riders, and admittedly I deal with mostly the show jumpers, have a big horse and one that they either hope to bring on or is the back up. The heir and the spare theory. Four is beyond my comprehension even given the fact that they are often worked as one unit.

After watching some of the dressage, my absolute admiration goes to these grooms. These horses were immaculate as was the tack and the carriage. All the grooms come to the ring turned out as well as their horses. The horses were not the spiffy (and much easier) show horse syle – with the hair shaved down to skin –there was elbow grease and time into this and it shows style. The tack is a wonder unto itself. This is not the kind of equipment that you can take a damp sponge to – this has to be clean and polished. These grooms are amazing – either that or they have figured out how to add hours to their day!

Even though the dressage was gorgeous – I am still waiting for Saturday and the Marathon, which is probably the most exciting thing I have seen.
Violet Forbes
Press Operations

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