World Agility Championships – Live Coverage

Written By: Jean Emery - September• 23•11

Even if you are a relative newcomer to the sport of agility, you may have overheard (or will sooner or later) a fellow competitor say “Oh, we’re not trying for World Team or anything.”  Or, you’ve had someone point out a handler and their dog at a local trial with “They’re on the World Team, you know.”

So what are they talking about?  World Team?

Actually, several of the major agility sanctioning bodies have international level competitions, but the one most people mean when they talk about World Team competition is the event sponsored by the Federal Cynologique Internationale (“FCI”), the Championnat du Monde d’Agility.

 Here in the U.S., the American Kennel Club is a member of the FCI and sponsors and selects the representatives on the US Team.  This year’s event, FCI’s 100th anniversary, is coming up soon–October 7,8 & 9 in Lievin, France.  This is the second time Lievin, located in northern France about 100 kilometers southeast of Calais on the English Channel, has hosted the elite event, welcoming more than 400 competitors from 36 countries.  The competition truly spans the globe with teams from China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, North and South America, South Africa and most of the European and East European nations.

Here’s a little taste of the elite calibre of competition from last year’s event in Rieden, Germany.

This year the US is sending twelve teams in three jump heights: Small, dogs 13 3/4″ and under jumping 14″; Medium, dogs measuring 13 3/4″to 16 7/8″ jumping 18″; and Large, dogs, 16 7/8″ and over jumping 26″. 

Here are the US Team members:

Handler Dog Breed
Barb Davis Jahdo Skechers at Strathspey MX MXJ OF “Skecher” Shetland Sheepdog
Janet Dunn Sheeza Friendz’d Conniption MX MXJ XF “Tantrum” Papillon
Dee Anna Gamel NAC MACH8 Hilltop Kelsi Lee Kinsella “Kelsi” Shetland Sheepdog
Marcy Mantell NAC MACH6 Plail’s Few and Far Between CDX RN PT MXF TQX ” Wave” Shetland Sheepdog
Alternate – Heidi Vania MACH2 Ivan Lee Glacial Reflection OF “Ice” Shetland Sheepdog
Handler Dog  
Ashley Deacon NAC MACH3 Luka De La Brise “Luka” Pyrenean Shepherd
Karen Holik MACH6 Triunes Feelin Hot Hot Hot “Sizzle” Shetland Sheepdog
John Nys NAC MACH4 Bare Cove Blu Lite Special “Rush” Shetland Sheepdog
Maureen Waldron MACH3 Plail’s It’s All About Me!  MXF TQX “Mickle” Shetland Sheepdog
Handler Dog  
Laura Jones MACH Kep “Kep” Border Collie
Daisy Peel NAC MACH Super Sun OF “Solar” Border Collie
Tori Self NAC Sagehill’s Change the World MX MXJ OF “Rev” Border Collie
Terry Smorch MACH3 Hob Nob Up tempo Night Flight MXF TQX “Presto” Border Collie
Alternate – Rob Michalski Sprite’s Haute Volee MX MXJ UD “Wings” Belgian Tervuren

 I believe ten of the 12 team members, counting the alternates, have been on the US World Team in a previous year (a few several times).  At least five of the teams are also US National Agility Champions.  Four teams are making their first trip to the FCI world competition.  At last one US team member, Terry Smorch, competed in the 2003 Lievin championship (with a different dog).  Team Coach is Nancy Gyes, a well-known agility competitor, writer and seminar presenter, who is a National and World Team Champion in her own right.  You can learn more about the US team selection process by visiting the AKC webpage here.

Some other top name international agility stars competing in this year’s event are Greg Derrett (Great Britian), Susan Garrett (Canada), Slyvia Trkman (Slovenia), and Jenny Damm (Sweden).  Pictures of all the competitors are available on the event website here.  Just click on Competition, then Country, and scroll through the country list.

The website is in French, but if you click on the British flag in the upper right corner, an English version will open. 

I know this is The Novice Handler blog and World Team thoughts might not be on your agenda, but I thought I would pass on the news that you can watch this world championship event live from the comfort of your home.  The event will be livestreamed over the Internet starting next Thursday.  Tickets go on sale Sunday, September 25.  (Full disclosure: I am NOT getting any kick back for promoting the livestream event and don’t know anyone involved with the livestream broadcast.).

In years past, a US-based video production company produced the Internet coverage.  I thoroughly enjoyed following the competition and seeing the extraordinary talents and very different handling styles of the international competitors.  To my knowledge, this is the first year FCI will be doing its own Web TV broadcast, so I can’t speak for the quality, but the cost is reasonable enough that even with a few hiccups you can’t go too wrong. 

You have several viewing options.  You can purchase one day of livestreaming viewing (you pick the day) for 7 Euros, about $9.40, or a three-day pass for the entire run of the competition Friday, Saturday and Sunday, for just 15 Euros (about $20 US Dollars).  If you can’t catch the livestream, you can purchase one-year of unlimited access video on demand for 25 Euros (about $33.50 US Dollars).  The VOD link will be available after October 18.  So if you wanted to watch some of the competition live and catch up with the rest at your leisure in the future, total package will run about $53 US with change. 

Tickets go on sale September 25th at this link.  I don’t think you need to worry about tickets selling out, but you won’t be able to purchase tickets until the 25th.

Also you can get free access to the Thursday, October 6th training day if you want to try the feed before purchasing.  Just realize that practice day is really more or less an equipment familiarization day (and a chance for competitors to stretch out the travel kinks and jitters).  Each country gets a very limited number of minutes on the agility floor and teams largely use the time to get a feel of the surface, the lighting and the equipment.  Several pieces of equipment are quite different from what we are used to here in the US.  The table, for instance, has a pressure sensitive surface that triggers an electronic beep for the table count, so that it is uniform for everyone.  Another unusual piece of equipment you’ll see is a formidable, but displaceable, wall jump that can be pretty imposing.  Of course, the US Team members have been practicing on similar kinds of equipment in preparation for the event, but I am sure they appreciate having a chance to view up close the actual equipment they’ll face when the competition starts.

For those of you in Arizona or on the West Coast, the time difference is nine hours, six hours for those on the East Coast.  You can either do an all-nighter and follow every minute of the action or get up at a more reasonable morning hour and pick up the action from there.

Even if you have no World Team aspirations like most of us, watching these top level competitions offers a jolt of inspiration that just might re-energize your own training and jump-start your enthusiasm if you are feeling a little discouraged.  And it doesn’t hurt to fill your head with images of what I might say is “way excellent” agility.

One of my favorite parts of the event is the crowd participation.  During the competition, when a team goes off course (it happens!) the crowd erupts in upbeat clapping, a warm gesture of support and empathy for the competitor who’s just had his or her world championship dreams dashed.  During the breaks, fans, friends, and I dare say a competitor or two, gather down on the floor to do a lively group dance, quite a notch up from baseball’s 7th inning stretch.

Here’s a little taste of the intermission action.  The tall fellow in front in the USA colors and baseball cap is California competitor and AKC judge Marquand Cheek, a die-hard US Team supporter and an instigator of all things fun and crazy. 

Good luck everyone.  Go USA!


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  1. Jean,
    What a fantastic blog you have created! It’s an honor to be mentioned in my crazy USA dance party way :) Your new handlers will find this sport is addicting and just plain fun for humans and canines alike. Anything new can be frustrating, but I promise you all with time and a patient and loving dog you will soon be a seasoned veteran offering the kind of help that Jean is doing for you. Good luck to all of you. If you need a Novice course, just shout! I’ll be judging in Phoenix area next January in AKC. Stop by and say hey and work for a Green Q ribbon while you’re at it. May the course be with you,
    Marquand Cheek
    Wild West Agility

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