The first of five qualifiers for the FEI World Cup Vaulting series opens in Munich, Germany, tomorrow, when 15 athletes from seven nations will battle it out at the Olympic arena.
The next stop for the world’s most talented horse acrobats will be one month later, when the legs in Salzburg (AUT), from 6-9 December, and Paris (FRA), from 7-8 December, run parallel. World Cup points can also be collected in Leipzig (GER), from 17-20 January, and Bordeaux (FRA), 8-10 February.
The FEI World Cup Vaulting series is open to the world’s top male and female vaulters, with the best three results counting towards the classification for the final. The six female and male vaulters with the highest scores will then come together at the FEI World Cup Vaulting 2012/2013 Final in Braunschweig (GER), which runs from 14-17 March 2013.
Qualification for the series took place at the summer qualifying events. Reigning World Champions Joanne Eccles (GBR) and Nicolas Andreani (FRA) are in the lead, with the British vaulter on 90 points and Andreani on 69.
Last year’s World Cup winner Joanne Eccles will not be defending her title in the new series. The 23-year-old dentist, who won the final in Bordeaux, France, in February of this year and also her sister Hannah Eccles, who finished in fourth, were available to compete in only two events this season. Under the series rules, athletes have to compete at a minimum of three legs. World silver medallist Rikke Laumann (DEN), in second place in the rankings, will not be competing for the same reason.
This means that the highest ranked female vaulter is Simone Jäiser (SUI), who collected 68 points during the summer season. The 26-year-old from Swiss Voltige-club Harlekin will be bidding to please the judges with her incredible freestyle which helped her to fourth place at the FEI World Vaulting Championships in Le Mans (FRA) in August.
Jäiser is one of the favourites for the title. Italy’s Anna Cavallaro and the German youngster Sarah Kay also have a good chance of making a strong start to the series, but Jäiser is out for revenge: In Le Mans she missed out on the bronze medal by just 0.004 of a point to Sarah Kay. Jäiser’s motto is: “If you are ready to cross borders, you are able to expand horizons.”
The male competition is led by the French shining star Nicolas Andreani, who claimed his first gold medal at this year’s World Championships and will now be aiming to add the FEI World Cup title to his collection. The 28-year-old freestyle specialist is the clear favorite for the series, having earned top scores for his elegance and perfectly executed performances wherever he competed in 2012. “I will give my best as always,” he said.
Germany’s World silver medallist Erik Oese, who came closest to Andreani in Le Mans and who is ranked in second place from the summer qualifiers, will also not compete at the series. “Unfortunately it was not possible for me to compete at three legs, but I hope to get a wild card for Leipzig, which is near to my hometown,” he said.
Andreani’s biggest rivals may be his compatriots, Ivan Nousse and Jacques Ferrari. Fellow Frenchman Nousse, who took bronze at the World Championships, is ranked third and will be hoping to cause a surprise, as will Czech vaulter Lukas Klouda. Both will be competing at the opening leg in Munich, while Andreani will start his qualification in Paris.
Others who could cause an upset include the “underdog“ and German Champion Jannik Heiland, who can post some good results against the big vaulting stars. And Viktor Brüsewitz (GER), who finished third at the Finals in Leipzig 2011 and Bordeaux 2012, is looking for a higher placing this series.
Last year’s FEI World Cup champion Patric Looser will not defend his title, as the hugely successful Swiss vaulter ended his career after his victory at this year‘s Final in Bordeaux.
Facts and Figures:
This is the third season of FEI World Cup Vaulting.
Ten female Vaulters from five nations and 12 male Vaulters from six nations will take part in qualifying competitions before the 2012/13 Final which takes place in Braunschweig, Germany in March 2013.
The defending FEI World Cup Vaulting champions are Great Britain’s Joanne Eccles and Switzerland’s Patric Looser. Neither will compete in the 2012/2013 series.
The official Vaulting rankings are headed by Joanne Eccles (GBR) and Nicolas Andreani (FRA).
Reporting: Daniel Kaiser