When it comes to winning medals, Christian Simonson is to the North American Youth Championships what Michael Phelps is to the Olympics.
The 19-year-old from California now has six NAYC medals to his name—four of them gold; three of which he earned just this week in Traverse City, MI.
Simonson’s final gold medal of the week came on Sunday as he topped the Young Rider Individual Freestyle with a NAYC record breaking freestyle score of 78.935% and proved himself unbeatable in the Young Rider category.
“I’m feeling really, really grateful,” said Simonson. “I was hoping that [Zeaball Diawand] would dig deep, and he surpassed by my expectations today. I’m so grateful to be able to ride him.”
“I think this is our third freestyle together,” continued Simonson, in speaking of the nine-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, owned by Christina Morgan. “So, to have him hold that much composure and be able to perform it the way he did even after such a long, crazy week just makes me so, so grateful to be able to ride him.”
Simonson’s freestyle choreography was largely a brainstorm between him and his trainer, Tokyo Olympic silver medalist Adrienne Lyle, with music developed by Sharon Robinson.
“The music is modern and really, really fun to ride,” said Simonson. “That was in Wellington this year, and then we rode it today!”
With Simonson taking the gold, the silver medal went to Allison Nemeth and Tiko with a score of 73.330%. The bronze medal with a score of 73.170% went to Tillie Jones and Qi Gong TF.