It was the best better of times. It was the worst of times for the American eventing team.

As expected, Pierre Michelet’s challenging cross country course caused a major shake-up in the team and individual Olympic rankings. It just didn’t go the way Team USA was hoping. With two riders eliminated, the team is out of medal contention. But there’s still a chance for an individual medal.

Let’s recap the rollercoaster that was the red, white, and blue in Rio.

The day started off on a high note. Lead-off rider Boyd Martin posted a clear trip aboard Olympic rookie, Blackfoot Mystery, to log just 3.20 time penalties. It was a stellar, if exhausting, performance.

Said Martin:

“I thought I was fit, but I am not. I ride events week after week after week, but I’ve never been that gassed after cross country, which goes to show how hard I had to work to get him around.”

Then the trouble started.

Second on course for the team, Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen picked up three refusals and were eliminated at fence 17.

“[It’s an] adjustability issue,” said Montgomery. “He’s very difficult to make come back and then turn to the right. It’s something that I know needs to get fixed. We were unable to fix it before we got here. Thought everything was ok and obviously it wasn’t.

With no drop score in hand, the pressure was on the remaining two riders to register a team score. Lauren Kieffer and Veronica were trending on a clear until the Malmesbury Cottage. Kieffer opted for the direct route on the bending line from fence 23 to 24. Veronica caught a hoof on the second element and they fell.

Said Kieffer:

“I think she was being really good and it seemed stupid not to go the straight way. Then she hit that gate with her right front and for a second I thought she might save it, but down we went.

Kieffer injured her hand in the tumble (she’s since gone for x-rays). Her horse is escaped injury.

“Once we got back to the vet box she was jigging and trying to bite me,” said a gutted Kieffer. “She’s fine. She’s a tough mare.”

Just when things were looking their bleakest, anchor rider Phillip Dutton turned it around for the team, collecting just 3.20 time penalties aboard Mighty Nice. He now sits fifth in the individual ranking on 46.00 penalties, just ahead of Martin.