Special Edition: 2017 FCI Agility World Championship Wrap Up
452 dogs from 43 different countries competed at this year’s FCI Agility World Championship, which took place on October 5-8, 2017 in Liberec, Czech Republic. In case you missed it, here’s a mildly humorous recap.
It was awesome. Totally awesome. I followed the event from the comfort of my internet, which afforded me a good connection to the livestream coverage (you can still pay for Video On Demand). The handlers at the very top of each height class are incredible, and the number of competitors for Small and Medium dogs has been rising. From the Official 2017 FCI AWC Facebook Page:
Dogs by Height
Small 39%, Medium 29%, Large 32%
Top 10 Breeds (#)
- Border Collie (184)
- Shetland Sheepdog (149)
- Poodle (35)
- Parson Russell Terrier (28)
- Pyrenean Shepherd (16)
- Papillon (12)
- Mudi (8)
- Belgian Shepherd Dog [Malinois] (7)
- Australian Kelpie (6)
- Jack Russell Terrier (5)
Results were posted online in real-time so that you could see the leaderboard during any given class. The quality of the livestream was improved compared to previous years in that there was less downtime, although the names and times listed on the actual screen did not always match those of the actual run. And for the uninitiated, every time a competitor goes off course, the arena plays a song, in this case, Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” I had never heard it before, and I hope I never hear it again.
Small Team Results
You might think that the team runs are warm ups for the individual rounds, but you should know that some of the dogs at AWC run only the team rounds, while others run only the individual rounds. Related to this is the unusual scheduling of the runs. While medium and large dogs ran both team rounds before the individual rounds, the small dogs ran team jumping and then switched to individual jumping before switching back to team agility and finishing with individual agility.
Who wins the team event? Each country can run up to 4 dogs in a height, and the top 3 scores will be combined to create your team score, which is then sorted first by faults, and then by time. Jumping (jumpers) will be added to Agility (standard) to crown the overall team champion. The “faults then time” element is a critically important point to understand, as it’s possible for a slower team to finish higher than a faster one because their rounds were clean.
For the small dogs, team jumping came first, and judge Petr Pupík created a nice, relatively easy course with a 53% clean run rate. Sweden ran its way to a team total time of 99.35 with zero faults, powered by teammates Sandra Sjöberg and sheltie Milla (32.60) and Linda Enberg and sheltie Bella (32.69). Germany (101.74) was anchored by agility stud Tobias Wüst and sheltie Doerte, who put in the only sub-32 second run at 31.67. More on Tobias later. Italy came in third at 102.33 led by Adriano Pacifico’s sheltie Po at 33.20.
With jumping done, the team agility course is reverse seeded, meaning Italy will run third to last, Germany second to last, and Sweden last. Reverse seeding makes everything more tasty.
After all the delicious pie from her fellow judge, Mirja Lapanja dropped the hammer on the small dogs, delivering a course that had the third lowest clean run rate of the competition at 22%. The course was wonderfully designed and when combined with the stress of running for overall team medals, produced some fantastic runs.
So who won the overall team competition for small dogs? France and Italy added 3 clean runs each to their 3 clean runs from jumping, and since they were the only two countries to boast six perfect runs, they battled for supremacy of the small dog universe. While France narrowly edged Italy in team agility 126.79 to 127.72, Italy’s decisive edge in team jumping gave them overall team gold with a total time of 230.05 to France’s 233.90. Congratulations to the Italian small dog team: Adriano Pacifico and sheltie Po, Alberto Marmo and Parson Russell Terrier Dhitta, Luciano Ganz and Parson Russell Terrier Eva, and Andrea Tagliapietra and poodle Alan.
Lithuania, which had finished in 7th for jumping, leapfrogged its way to overall bronze when they put up 2 clean runs in agility to go nicely with their 3 clean runs in jumping, giving them 5 clean runs overall, and their 6th run was a 2.09 fault run in agility (time fault). But what of Germany and Sweden?
Led again by Tobias Wüst’s Doerte and their ridiculously amazing time of 37.75, Germany destroyed the field in team agility in terms of overall time (121.43), only to be felled by a single fault for two of the four dogs, giving them only 2 clean runs instead of the 3 they needed to win all the marbles. Sweden, the other small team powerhouse, mustered a single clean run in team agility, dropping them out of overall medal contention. As an honorable mention, Slovenia’s Sandi Okanović’s sheltie Miya put up a 37.84 run in team agility, and along with Doerte, were the only small dogs to run under 40 seconds.
Small Individual Results
The team runs always provide some insight into which dogs are primed for an overall individual medal (see: Wüst, Tobias). While the jumping round is generally a more reliable indicator of absolute speed, the agility round gives you a look at dog’s speed on the contact obstacles. Of course, many handlers will run relatively conservatively in team runs because there are many situations where a clean run is highly valuable with respect to earning a team medal. For this reason, I enjoy the individual competition immensely and follow it more closely than team competition, as running conservatively will never win you the individual gold.
Germany’s Tobias Wüst simply crushed the small dog field in individual jumping, winning by more than two seconds. Judge Mirja Lapanja put up a challenging course that had the lowest qualifying rate (28%) of the three individual jumping courses. Tobias and his sheltie Doerte didn’t care.
Shelties captured 8 of the top 10 placements, with Norway’s Eli Beate Sæther and Zelda taking silver (34.13) and Slovenia’s Maruša Podjed and Nai earning bronze (34.22), just one tenth of a second ahead of France’s Sophie Lafond and Felicity (34.32). Was there a 5 fault dog somewhere who might have challenged Tobias for the gold? No, there was not. Tobias’ previous sheltie Peanut also won the AWC but had a brilliant career cut short by terrible injury. For Tobias to deal with that and come back and achieve this is remarkable.
Judge Petr Pupík’s individual agility course for the small dogs had the highest qualifying rate among the three height classes, and served as the finale of a perfekt weekend for Tobias, as he coasted to a 36.24 for second place, giving him the overall individual gold for small dogs with an unbelievable combined time of 67.83. Sweden’s Sandra Sjöberg (Du är bäst!) and Milla took the silver (71.48) and Norway’s Eli Beate Sæther (fantastisk!) and Zelda claimed the bronze (71.97).
Props to Claudia Schwab and sheltie Mitch for edging Tobias and Doerte in the agility round, 35.72 to 36.24.
Medium Team Results
Judge Mirja Lapanja provided the team jumping course, which had a qualifying rate of 33%. Petr Pupík’s team agility course had a qualifying rate of 28%, and the % gap between these two courses was the smallest of all 3 heights.
The team competition was Ragnarok fierce. Like their small dog counterparts, Germany’s medium dogs put up some phenomenal runs in team jumping led by Daniel Schröder and Cashew (31.60) and Silas Boogk and Beam (31.84) but couldn’t get a third clean dog while posting a total time 97.03. Instead, running in front of the home crowd, the Czech Republic, with the always excellent Martina Klimešová and her mudi Kiki (33.11) and Eliška Panáčová and sheltie Jive (33.18) led the way to the top spot with a combined time of 101.82, just ahead of Slovenia’s 103.34. Slovenia was led once again by Silvia Trkman and her Pyrenean Shepherd Le (31.73), this year’s European Open champion for the medium dogs. France captured third, with Renaud Castelan’s sheltie Demeter at the helm (33.46) and a total time of 104.49. Honorable mention to Austria’s Simone Ullrich-Pansi and Pyrenean Shepherd Babou for putting up a 31.83, joining Le, Cashew, and Beam as the only sub-32 second dogs. Switzerland took 4th with a combined time of 105.81, and the top 4 countries all had 3 clean rounds heading into team standard.
In team standard, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and France all incurred a single fault but managed to capture the overall medals as no country had six clean rounds. Slovenia won the overall team gold with an overall (jumping plus agility) time of 218.80, with the host Czech Republic capturing silver with a 220.41, and France taking bronze with a 223.98. As usual, Slovenia was led by Silvia Trkman and Le, who posted a 35.97 time with a running dogwalk. Ágnes Ács-Kövesi and her amazing poodle Ike led Hungary with a great time of 36.37. Congrats to Silvia and Le, Ugrin Babunski and Pumi Zin, Blaž Oven and sheltie Ink, and Anabella Kokalj and Pyrenean Shepherd Viva for capturing the overall medium team gold!
Medium Individual Results
Ich kann es immer noch nicht glauben but Germany finished first, second, and third in individual jumping! Silas Boogk and sheltie Beam led the way with a 33.99, with Daniel Schröder and sheltie Cashew taking silver with a 34.88. Their teammate Claudia Zenner and Pyrenean Shepherd Wii edged out a fantastic group of dogs (including multiple world champions) by 0.03 seconds for bronze, setting up an incredible finale in individual standard. Some of my favorite handlers including Martina Klimešová, Ágnes Ács-Kövesi, Silvia Trkman, Åsa Emanuelsson, Werner Goltz, and Natasha Wise all ran clean and finished in the top 15. The Petr Pupík-designed course ran smoothly, with a 56% qualifying rate, but danger was right around the corner…
…because Mirja Lapanja was back, with an agility course that saw a mere 20% of competitors run clean. On this course, a champion would be crowned. When the dust settled, 11 of the 79 medium dogs had run two clean rounds.
And running in reverse order, every single dog in the top 10 faulted.
Except for The One.
Daniel Schröder and sheltie Cashew.
By finishing second in jumping and second in agility, Cashew’s combined time of 71.76 earned the gold medal, far ahead of the field. Czech Republic’s Kateřina Malačková and Izzy claimed silver with a combined time of 75.76 after taking 11th in jumping and 5th in agility. Russia’s Svetlana Gushchina and Tory edged out Poland’s Olga Kwiecień and Brava for the overall bronze with a combined time of 77.14.
Large Team Results
14 of the 37 countries entered in team jumping for the large dogs finished with 3 clean runs, so speed was the determining factor for placements. Petr Pupík’s course was arguably the easiest of the weekend and had a qualifying rate of 56%, tied for the highest of any course (with medium individual jumping). The Czech Republic earned a stunning win in team jumping when three of their dogs ran faster than 34 seconds! Tereza Králová and Say (33.05), Radovan Liška and Ory (33.29) and Tereza Otýpková and Jess (33.68) bested Germany’s top three dogs with a combined time of 100.02 to 100.99. Probably the strongest large dog team in the world from top to bottom, the Germans rolled out Philipp Müller-Schnick and Hunter (33.11), Daniel Schröder and Gin (33.78), and European Open Large dog champion Krisztina Beitl-Kabai and Tiu (34.10). Can you imagine being so good that your team’s third place dog won the European Open final? The fourth German dog, Chi, run by Anne Lenz, also ran clean (34.12). By the way, Lenz and Chi finished second at the European Open to their teammates Beitl-Kabai and Tiu, by 0.02 seconds. In addition, Chi’s 34.12, which was dropped from scoring since a team submits only their 3 best runs, would have been the fastest or second fastest run on 32 of the 37 other teams. Think about that for a moment.
Estonia took third on the strength of the two fastest non-border collies in the field, malinois Süsi and Dints, both run by the same amazing handler, Marje Piiroja. How good are these malinois? Süsi (32.77) beat every dog on the amazing Czech Republic and German teams we just talked about. Dints (33.20) would have been the second fastest dog on either of those teams. I think this just blew someone’s mind. Natalia Garastsenko and Bolt provided Estonia with their 3rd clean run.
Once again, competitors went from the relative comfort of Pupík’s course to the challenging, beautifully designed course by Mirja Lapanja, which had the lowest qualifying rate of any course at 19%. The Czech Republic did not fare well, handing the overall team gold to Germany–except that Germany didn’t win. They settled for silver because of a 5-fault. Estonia took third, also with a 5-fault, and the only country with 6 clean rounds, Poland, captured the overall team gold for large dogs. Congratulations to Magdalena Łabieniec and Issi, Natalia Lichecka and Yen, Magdalena Ziółkowska and Mawr, and Olga Kwiecień and Brego!
Poland’s Issi in particular had a fantastic 37.16 run in team agility, just ahead of Lisa Frick and Jack at 37.46. Spain’s Jonathan Guillem and Tri clocked a 37.39 on a tough course.
Large Individual Results
The judges decided to switch up their good cop/bad cop routine as Mirja Lapanja set a fast, flowing individual jumping course with a 46% qualifying rate while Petr Pupík put the large dogs to the test on an agility course with a 28% qualifying rate.
How good are the large dogs at the AWC? In the jumping round, 1st place and 15th place were separated by less than one second. I’m not even going to list the handlers and dogs. Go look at the results. Amazing. Okay, I’ll give you a few. Svetlana Kreslina and Salsa (35.18) took first, just ahead of Tereza Králová and Say (35.32 and the obvious hometown favorite), while my hero Marje Piiroja and malinois Süsi took third with 35.63, just 0.02 seconds ahead of World Champion Pavol Vakonič. By the way, Piiroja also took 8th with Dints, the other malinois (she’s amazing). And yes, there were 2 Germans in the top 10, Philipp Müller-Schnick and Hunter in 6th and Daniel Schröder (that name sounds familiar) and Gin in 10th. Japan’s Masanori Kaitoda and Konan finished 5th, and I really like his dog and his handling. Japan has become a legitimate force in agility, passing many other countries and fielding a full team this year with Konan headlining the large dogs. Konan was my darkhorse favorite for an overall medal. Did they do it? Let’s find out.
Watching the top twenty large dogs run individual agility set my heart on fire. I’m going to talk about the top 6 overall finishers, plus one more. Let’s start with my darkhorse pick to medal, Masanori Kaitoda and Konan. With a 72.75, Konan came within half a second of the overall bronze. We’ll be seeing Konan again next year. Right behind him with a combined time of 73.41 was Marje Piiroja and Süsi. German Daniel Schröder and Gin took 4th with a 72.71, narrowly missing out on giving Schröder a second individual medal (remember, he won individual gold in medium).
And now we’ve reached the top three. Each of these dogs got here by having an unbelievable run that broke 36 seconds, the only dogs in the top 20 to do that. Italy’s Nicola Giraudi and Eira posted a 35.77, the 4th fastest run on this course, which launched them from 17th after jumping to overall bronze after agility. Similarly, Hungary’s Anita Szilágyi and Dita went 35.62 which was the second fastest run on this course, moving her from 7th after jumping to the overall silver medal.
We’ve reached the end. Running second to last, Tereza Králová and Say posted the only sub-35 run on this course, coming in a full second ahead of Dita, with a 34.53, and when the top seed Svetlana Kreslina and Salsa dropped the first bar, Králová and Say won the world championship. Overall, Giraudi and Eira went 72.25, Szilágyi and Dita went 71.52, but in a highly competitive field, Králová and Say finished with a 69.85, powering past the field with their fantastic running contacts. It was impressive.
Questions, Comments, or Corrections?
Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and give me a few days to get back to you. I hope you enjoyed the recap, congrats to all the AWC winners and participants, and I’ll see you next week!