It had been almost a century since Sweden had won Olympic jumping team gold so working overtime to end the drought only seemed appropriate.
A jump-off between Sweden and the United States was required to determine the Olympic champion.
It came down to the final rider, Sweden’s Peder Fredricson on All In, to determine the winner. Fredricson, needing a clean ride and a time of 40.31 seconds or better to claim the gold, came home in a flawless run in 39.01 seconds.
Fredricson, Henrik von Eckermann with King Edward, and Malin Baryard-Johnson and Indiana won Sweden’s record fourth Olympic gold medal in the event, but its first since 1924 in Paris.
The U.S. team of Laura Kraut with Baloutinue, Jessica Springsteen with Don Juan van de Donhoeve and McLain Ward with Contagious took silver, as the USA claimed a record-extending 10th Olympic medal in the jumping team event.
Springsteen, the daughter of rock and roll legend Bruce Springsteen, was making her Olympic debut.
“I thought all three of our horses jumped great yesterday so, I had really high hopes coming in today. It really gave me a lot of confidence and the ability to have big dreams of riding with them so, I’m just so excited,” Springsteen said.
Kraut, at age 55, became the second-oldest woman representing the United States to win an Olympic medal. Emily Woodruff was 58 when she won gold in archery in 1904.
Ward, going last for the USA in the jump-off, posted an imposing time of 39.92 for the Swedish anchorman Fredricson.
“Oh, the pressure was on!”, he admitted. “My god, in these situations when you have two teams like this you really want to win. McLain was fast, I saw his round and I knew what I had to do, and today the poles stayed up and the time was on my side!
“I had the speed and I gave him (All In) a lot of room. He’s in super shape, but I was really worried he would take the front pole with his hindlegs, but he came up!” Fredericson said.
“It was great to be in the battle!”, Ward said. “Sweden’s win wasn’t unexpected here but they took it to another level, we would have had to have an incredible day to beat them. I think we pushed them right to the limit, and in competition when you push them to that limit and they still win you’ve got to be proud of the fight!”
It is the first Olympic gold medal in any equestrian event for Sweden since 1956, when the equestrian events for the Melbourne Olympics were held in Stockholm due to Australian quarantine regulations.
Belgium claimed the bronze on Saturday to complete the podium.