Jessica Springsteen

Equestrian Jessica Springsteen Falls Short in Qualifier in Olympic Debut

Springsteen will have another chance at competing for a medal in the team event, which begins with qualifying on Friday at 6 a.m. ET

Jessica Springsteen
Friso Gentsch/picture alliance via Getty Images

Jessica Springsteen, the daughter of rock icon Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa of the E Street Band, made her Olympic debut Tuesday in the individual jumping qualifiers but failed to secure a spot in the finals.

The 29-year-old equestrian and her horse, Don Juan van de Donkhoeve, had a strong start on the 14-jump course at Tokyo's Equestrian Park, but the duo earned four penalty points for knocking down a rail around the 11th obstacle. That put her on the bubble of the 73-horse field for one of 30 spots in the final, set to take place on Wednesday at 6 a.m. ET. She was formally eliminated about an hour after riding.

Still, Springsteen finished highest-ranked among the three Americans competing in the individual jumping qualifiers. She'll have another chance at competing for a medal in the team event, which begins with qualifying on Friday at 6 a.m. ET followed by the final on Saturday at 6 a.m. ET.

“All in all, I'm thrilled with the round and I'm excited for the rest of the week," she said after her run.

Springsteen's teammate 55-year-old Laura Kraut, riding Baloutinue, and 40-year-old Kent Farrington, with Gazelle, also did not qualify. No American has medaled in individual jumping at the past two Olympics.

In Olympic jumping, riders guide their horses over fences around 1.5m (5 feet) tall. They incur four faults for every fence that is knocked down, as well as one time fault per four seconds over the time allowed. In the final, if multiple riders incur no faults, there will be a jump-off. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, six riders had clear rounds and faced off in a shorter round of jumps to decide the medals in one of the most thrilling finishes ever at an Olympic equestrian event.

Springsteen has been riding Don Juan van de Donkhoeve, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion owned by Stone Hill Farm where the Springsteen family lives in New Jersey, for about two years. The duo arrived in Tokyo ranked 14th in the world.

The daughter of rock-and-roll legend Bruce Springsteen and New Jersey native will be making her first Olympic debut on the jumping team along with Laura Kraut, McLain Ward and Kent Farrington.

Tuesday's jumping course had a distinctly Japanese feel, with obstacles that were adorned with life-sized sumo wrestlers, geisha kimonos, cherry blossoms and even a miniature recreation of a Japanese palace. Some riders blamed the sumo wrestler in obstacle No. 10 for distracting their horses in the qualifiers, with some pairings pulling up short of the barrier and accumulating enough penalty points to prevent entry into the finals.

“I did notice four or five horses really taking a spook to that,” British rider Harry Charles said.

The U.S. equestrian team has one medal so far in Tokyo, a silver in the team dressage event. The team placed sixth in team eventing, and no Americans medaled in individual dressage or individual eventing.

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