Last weekend we attended the Alberta/Northwest Territories Regional Agility Championships just outside of Edmonton. This is a 2 day event that determines qualification for the National Championships, which this year will be in Ontario.
The weekend starts on Friday with an optional Steeplechase event. You can enter up to 2 AAC sanctioned Steeplechases, which do count for Q's toward your Steeplechase titles. These Steeplechases are also qualifiers for an invitational only Steeplechase on Sunday afternoon. The Steeplechase Final follows the Regional competition and provides entertainment for the majority of competitors (since only a few dogs make the final), spectators, and the volunteers while the organizing committee frantically tallies the totals from the day's competition to determine the final standing of several hundred dogs. It's a really fun event with music and cheering and a commentator, and everyone tends to run all out because there is no qualification on the line... just money!
|Loving that running A-frame!|
The Regional competition happens on the Saturday and Sunday. There are 3 runs each day: Jumpers, Standard, and Gamble. You run one of each and it works a little different than a local trial. In Jumpers and Standard you start with a certain number of points (75 for Jumpers and 100 for Standard) and for every mistake you make you lose points - 5 points for bars, 20 points for an off course, etc. If you are clean you keep your points and you also get bonus points, one point per second under the standard course time. In Gamble you start with 0 points and you collect points in your opening the way you normally would in a regular Gamble event. However, for your final gamble, instead of it just being a "yes/no" and you need it to qualify (and technically for placement it just doubles your opening points), you get 35 points for completing it successfully.
All of the points that you earn during the 6 runs get added together to give you a total at the end of the weekend. You need 350 points to qualify for Nationals. Placements in each height class are given from 1 to 10 (the AAC only provides 1 to 6, but here in Alberta we have an amazing competitor/doggy daycare owner who donates 7-10 each year).
The 24" Regular class is not the MOST competitive class. We had 12 dogs total running in our class compared to 51 in the 20" Regular and 20 dogs in both the 16" and 12" Regular classes. However, the 24" class is almost exclusively large border collies, world team border collies (being up jumped to their international height), and malinois. We were missing 2 really strong competitors this year... one wasn't entered and the other was pulled due to a handler injury. Still, we had some really strong competition in our class, including a multi world medalist. I cannot even express how proud I was that Kenna won the Regional Championship. This was her very first Regionals and she's only just turned 3... she's just starting to come into her prime agility years. She ran consistently all weekend and never put a paw out of place. For a greyhound to win this class full of border collies and malinois is just... unreal. I still can hardly believe it happened.
Now we look forward to our first National Championships in Ontario. That's been a headache in itself... having to fly a dog for the first time, having to pack for an agility trial with a limited amount of baggage space, coordinating hotel and car buddies. It's all quite the new experience for me, but I'm very excited to take this next step in my agility journey. We will also be trying out for the IFCS World Team at the National event, so wish us luck!