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Opening ceremony for Pentathalon World Cup in Palm Springs

Published On: Feb 19 2013 08:16:01 AM CST

The opening ceremony for the USA Pentathlon World  Cup #1 will be held Tuesday at Palm Springs Stadium, with Helen Patton, a  granddaughter of the the late U.S. Army Gen. George S. Patton, serving as the  keynote speaker.

      George Patton finished fifth in the modern pentathlon in the 1912 Summer  Olympics. Proceeds from the ticket sales for the opening ceremony will  benefit the General Patton Memorial Museum in Chiriaco Summit.

      The opening ceremony will begin at 4 p.m., two hours after the start of  the jury ride, where trainers examine the horses borrowed for the event and  judge whether they are fit and healthy enough to compete.

      (Under modern pentathlon rules, pentathletes draw numbers for their  horse and have 20 minutes to ride before the competition to become acquainted.)

      Competition will begin Wednesday with the men's qualifier. The women's  qualifier will be held Thursday. The men's final will be held Friday, the  women's final Saturday and the mixed relay Sunday.

      A modern pentathlon consists of five events -- a round robin fencing  tournament; a 200-meter freestyle swim, equestrian show jumping and a 3,200- meter cross-country run combined with shooting.

      What is known as the combined event consists of four laps around an 800- meter course and firing shots from a laser pistol at a target 10 meters away  before each lap. The pentathletes may resume running once they have hit the  target five times or the maximum shooting time of 50 seconds has expired.

      Point totals are assigned to performances for each event. The start of  the combined running and shooting event is based on the scores entering the  event, with the leader starting first. The rest of the field starts one second  behind the leader for every four points he or she trails the leader, assuring  that the winner of the combined event is the winner of the pentathlon.

      The qualifiers do not include riding. The entire competition will be  held at Sunrise Park -- the fencing in the park's Pavilion, the swimming in its  pool and the riding and combined running and shooting event in Palm Springs  Stadium.

      Spectators will not be allowed in the Pavilion because it will be filled  by fencing strips, according to Janet Newcomb, media director for the USA  Pentathlon World Cup #1. Organizers plan to put a large video screen outdoors  so spectators can watch, but those plans could be dropped if it rains, Newcomb  said.

      David Svoboda of the Czech Republic, the men's modern pentathlon gold  medalist at the 2012 London Olympics, leads the field of 140 pentathletes from  28 nations, which also includes the world's two top-ranked male pentathletes,  Russians Aleksander Lesun and Ilya Frolov.

      The top Americans include Margaux Isaksen, the fourth-place finisher in  the women's modern pentathlon at the 2012 London Olympics and the women's world  junior champion, and her sister, Isabella.

      A Pentathlon World Cup event was first held in the Coachella Valley in  2011. The U.S. stop of the World Cup circuit in 2012 was held in Charlotte, but  was returned to the Coachella Valley in 2013 because UPIM, the sport's  worldwide governing body, prefers its competitions to be held at one site,  according to Janet Newcomb, media director for the USA Pentathlon World Cup #1.

      A Pentathlon World Cup event will be held in Palm Springs each year  through 2015, Newcomb said.

      The USA Pentathlon World Cup #1 is the first of five events on the World  Cup circuit, which also consists of competitions in Rio de Janeiro, Chengdu,  China and Budapest, Hungary, and the final in Nizhny-Novgorod, Russia.

      The modern pentathlon was invented in 1909 by Baron Pierre de Coubertin,  the founder of the modern Olympic Games, as a test of the skills required by  19th century cavalry soldiers, and first held in the Olympics in 1912.

      Ticket prices are $15 for the opening ceremony, $8 for the qualifiers  and $10 for the finals and mixed relay. Children under 12 will be admitted  free. More information is available on the event's website,

      Competition will begin at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday with fencing,  followed by swimming at 12:25 p.m. The combined event will begin at 2:50 p.m.  Wednesday and Thursday. A second group will also compete Wednesday and  Thursday, starting with swimming at 9:25 a.m., fencing at 10:30 a.m. and the  combined event at 4:10 p.m.

      On Friday and Saturday, fencing will begin at 8:30 a.m., swimming at  12:25 p.m., riding at 2:35 p.m. and the combined event at 5:30 p.m.

      On Sunday, fencing will begin at 8:30 a.m., the swimming at 11:25 a.m.,  riding at 1 p.m. and the combined event at 3:50 p.m.