We are back from the closing ceremony, where top performances were recognized and medals, trophies & prizes presented to winners. In a very proud moment, Sarah Arnold stepped onto the high center of the podium to receive her gold medal and trophy as Standard Class World Champion. The Star-Spangled Banner – not heard at a World Gliding Championship since 1985 (when Doug Jacobs won in Rieti, Italy) – played as the US flag rose behind her.
Look for pictures of our three US Team pilots in their tightly coordinated blue dresses with red sashes and stylish shoes. Sylvia, Kathy and Sarah cooperated in designing these outfits, and judging by the reaction tonight they should perhaps pursue this line of work professionally. They were widely recognized as the best-dressed, upstaging even the French team. They were the subject of countless photos and received an improbable number of compliments.
Sarah did an outstanding job at this long and challenging contest. Winning “wire to wire” is perhaps the hardest way. She had to fly extremely well and consistently to hold off a determined effort by Aude Grangeray of France (the two-time defending champion). She was up to this challenge, did not falter, and convinced everyone here – including French team captain Eric Napoleon, who knows soaring talent when he sees it – that she is a worthy and gracious champion.
Sarah made this championship her goal some years ago, and has put in the extraordinary time and effort necessary. She has received impressive support while pursuing this goal. The list of people deserving direct thanks has some 220 names on it. It would not be practical here to name even a fraction of those who deserve thanks, so I’ll mention one to represent them all – one whose support has been generous and unwavering. If you happen to cross paths with Barry Stott, thank him on behalf of Sarah and the US Team. And if you think this US Team effort was worthwhile and would like to see it happen again, consider adding your name to that list.
This ought to be my final report from this contest, ending on a very high note. But for an unfortunate reason I’ll need to add another later. Briefly, the contest was engulfed in controversy today concerning access by one team to real-time tracking information that by rule was required to be delayed by 15 minutes (so as to blunt its value for tactical guidance). In my report, I’ll describe what I know of this, and the effect it already has had (hint: not good, nor welcomed by anyone).