Review of the Tournament by Kathy Eissinger, Coach, Texas A&M Archery

World Fields in Cortina Italy, 2000

The world field championships were held in Cortina, Italy this summer. I was fortunate enough to go as a participant. Most of us met up in New York for the flight into Venice. Jay and Janet Barrs had gone over earlier to put on a seminar and enjoy a chance to visit Venice. Cindy Ruckman showed up in the airport as we were boarding and was quite flustered since she
had left her passport and purse in Ohio. 

They wouldn't let her on board so she had to spend another day in New York waiting for her passport to catch up with her. She got to see the World University team on their way to their competition in Spain. The rest of us arrived in Italy around 8 in the morning. Customs was a breeze. 

I knew Venice was a city of canals but it was still amazing to see water taxis actually docked at the airport. We had a two-hour bus trip up to Cortina. The countryside started out as flat fields of corn and grapes but finally turned into a narrow valley heading up into the Dolomites. The towns were small with narrow streets and houses built right on the street. The bus looked like it would almost scrape buildings in several places. Our hotel in Cortina was small but pretty.  The Italians really like lots of flowers. We were on a hill about a 10-minute walk from downtown. 

Cortina was the sight of the 1956 winter Olympics and the bobsled run was right out our back door. The city did a wonderful job of hosting the event. It was really first class. Our first practice day, we had to contend with windy conditions while shooting in an open field. I went for a hike that afternoon up one of the mountains to the west of town. The climb was steep but through vegetation that looked a lot like what you would find in the Rockies. The Dolomites are very impressive mountains. There are not too many peaks you could even come close to climbing without rock climbing gear. They go straight up and are made of very jagged crumbly rock. The second day it rained so most of us didn't practice for too long. It was cold as well even though it was the middle of summer. Several people went shopping in town for warmer clothes. 

I went and got some hand warmers. Our first shooting day, I was paired with a lady from France who had been told that at 39 years of age she was too old to try out for their Olympic team and should stick to field. I also shot with an Australian who was, like me, shooting her first world
field tournament. She gave us the inside scoop on Australia in two years where the next world field will be held. We had a good time walking the course and shooting. They were all very friendly. 

The course itself was actually quite a bit easier than the trials course in Utah. It didn't have the extreme ups and downs. The footing was worse though, especially with the rain. We never really got warm that day except for maybe five minutes when the sun came out in the middle of the day. The course was set up so that spectators could watch several of the targets being shot. The second day we were reassigned groups based on our finish the day before. 

I was 24th which is where I wound up but shot a lot better than I did in Utah so I was happy with the placing. I shot the second day with a girl from Italy who spoke very little English a woman from Great Britain. The marked day had a little bit harder shots and more targets in front of spectators. The weather was warmer but still very changeable. Clouds seemed to move through the valley on a regular basis. Shooting moved pretty slowly with several groups backed up. That was my last day of competition. 

The next day was finals for individuals. The medal matches were shot out in an open field and broadcast live on Eurosport tv. Jahna took the gold and Dave took the silver in their respective divisions. We all yelled for them. In the team competition, both our guys and girls lost in the first round (the teams were made of your top recurve, compound and barebow shooter). The women were actually beating number two seed Italy in the first round with one target to go. A missed target by one of our women gave Italy the chance to grab the win. 

I went hiking again that afternoon. I took a cable car up to a ski hut at abot 10,000 feet and then took off. It was fun walking along the edge of cliffs with huge dropoffs all the way down to the town 3000 feet below. I saw some old ruins from World War II. I hiked up into a cirque and around to where the route I was following became a rock climbing route before heading back and hiking down off the cliff back into town. On the way back, I saw a marmot, a fox, and a pair of Chamois (looked kinda like deer but I think they are actually in the mountain goat family). I got in as it was getting dark. That night they had the finals of the team round in the narrow streets of downtown Cortina. It was way cool! 

There were spotlights set up on each target with room for spectators to stand along the side of the shots to see the teams shoot. A big screen tv was set up in downtown and the first target was being shown up on the big screen. The sound system allowed everyone watching to hear what was going on. It was very spectator friendly and drew a huge crowd. The U.S. could take a lesson on marketing archery from the Europeans! It was freezing cold but nearly everyone stayed to watch the whole thing. The Italian women wound up finishing first. The closing party was fun. 

Jahna Davis was given a bottle of champagne for her first place finish that was 3 feet tall and about a foot wide. I wonder how she got that through customs when she got home as it is over the limit and she is underage. It was pretty cool to see people opening their bottles and trying to pour them in the relatively tiny glasses. We had a uneventful trip back to reality the next day. It was a shock to step off the plane in College Station and back into hot weather again.
Write to Kathy Eissinger