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The countdown begins: One year until a small NC town hosts ‘Olympics for horses’

In this Charlotte Observer file photo, Nick Dello Joio, a competitive horse rider, rides Armaged'ick in the 2017 Tryon Summer VII CSI 2 at Tryon International Equestrian Center. On Friday, Eirin Bruheim filed a lawsuit saying her international equestrian career ended abruptly when her million-dollar horse was spooked by lightning and fell on her during a 2015 competition at the center.
In this Charlotte Observer file photo, Nick Dello Joio, a competitive horse rider, rides Armaged'ick in the 2017 Tryon Summer VII CSI 2 at Tryon International Equestrian Center. On Friday, Eirin Bruheim filed a lawsuit saying her international equestrian career ended abruptly when her million-dollar horse was spooked by lightning and fell on her during a 2015 competition at the center. jeason@charlotteobserver.com

In less than a year, a small North Carolina town will host one of the biggest sporting events ever to come to the state. Tickets will soon go on sale for the 2018 World Equestrian Games, which tourism officials describe as the “Olympics for horses.”

Tryon International Equestrian Center, situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains about 80 miles west of uptown Charlotte, won its bid to host the games last November. Since then, Tryon has been working furiously to wrap up construction of the $175 million facility – including an indoor and outdoor arena, rentable stables and four hotels.

The center said on its website this week that tickets for the 12-day equestrian games go on sale Oct. 16. A “variety of ticketing types and prices” will be offered, Tryon International said, including day passes, individual event tickets and an “All Games Pass” for each week of competition.

Ticket prices vary, Tryon said, although an inexpensive day pass will give attendees “access to event grounds and expo only.”

To drum up excitement, the center also posted a splashy new promotional video showcasing a variety of the region’s offerings – its airports, beaches and mountains, sports culture and tourist attractions like the Biltmore Estate.

The event’s opening ceremony is on Sept. 11, 2018, and the games run through Sept. 23. As in the Olympics, countries compete against each other in various events – including jumping, dessage and vaulting – and a medal count is kept.

The games were last held in 2014 in Normandy and were estimated to have a total economic impact of $400 million.

“We applaud the efforts of (Tryon CEO) Mark Bellissimo and the organizers at Tryon International Equestrian Center to bring this global event to North Carolina and stimulate tremendous economic growth for our state as a result,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement this week.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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