Day 1 - They’re off!

The 2015 FCI Agility Championship has officially begun.

The day started before dawn at 6:50 with the first rounds of training, followed by a last minute rush to make sure everything was in its place.

At 10:30 ENCI President Dino Muto welcomed foreign and Italian journalists at a press briefing held in the VIP lounge of Unipol Arena. There were also Gianluca Di Giannantonio, ENCI official in charge for agility, Roberto Lorenzetti, head of Royal Canin – main sponsor of the event as well as historic partner of ENCI – and Sandra Deidda, international judge. Mrs Deidda explained what an honour it was for Italy to host this important event, and also  judging  together  with colleagues Fulvio Frixone (Italy) and Sascha Grunder (Switzerland). She went on saying that agility has become the most popular event in the dog world. It’s a sport that reaches out a great number of people; both young and old are attracted by the way this fantastic discipline instils a sense of team spirit between people and their dogs.

It’s our responsibility to do whatever we can to promote it.

Meanwhile in the Arena the three training areas for small, medium and large dogs were being taken down and rehearsals for the opening ceremony began.

At 13:30 the opening ceremony begins and teams, introduced by the histrionic Stefano Marelli, the best presenter the dog world could hope for, enter the field, followed by judges and FCI delegates, Wilfried Claes and the President Christa Bremer, who officially opens this World Championship hoisting FCI flag. Tenor Emanuel Giannecchini, to the notes of Caruso warms up the opening ceremony which continues with the teams exit from the field.

The entry of each team was an emotional moment… bit by bit the Arena was transformed into a whirling display of dogs and people to the music of Lorenzo Jovanotti, an Italian pop singer whose song was chosen as the theme song for the event: “this is the navel of the world, it’s here that all energy begins!”

Energy was transformed into great tension and concentration when the competition officially began. Today was dedicated to Team Jumping Large. Judge Sandra Deidda designed a course requiring some courageous handlings and new moves that surprised and delighted spectators. There were 21 obstacles, including 17 jumps, a slalom, and 3 tunnels, for a total length of 175 meters… but this is only the beginning! It doesn’t even begin to describe the spectacle we witnessed!

Team Italy participated with four border collies: Pinkstar Edy with Fabio Zannoni, who made the best time at 34.913 seconds, Encore with Gianluca Schingaro, Becks Hill Horror Brie with Denis Beoni, and Albireo with Ruggiero Rociola. Overall it didn’t go too badly… it depends on one’s point of view, but you could say there’s still room for improvement.

Great honours went to Team Switzerland that won thanks to the synergy of a group in which each member did well (all between 33.38 and 34.82 seconds), to second place winners Slovenia and to Great Britain in third place. Three teams on the podium with only border collies! But the fastest dog of the day was an Australian Kelpie, handled by Julie Celma for Luxemburg: Belatars Firebird Beat who ran the whole course in 31.31 seconds. That’s about 20 km per hour in an obstacle course…  would you like to have a go?