World Champion Nicolas Andreani (FRA) and eight-time national champion Anna Cavallaro (ITA) were celebrating victories this weekend at the fourth leg of the FEI World Cup Vaulting 2012/2013 series in Leipzig in Germany, part of the famous international equestrian event Partner Pferd.
Andreani, vaulting on Radix SB and lunged by Patric Looser, won with 8666 points, while Cavallaro was in a class of her own, finishing on 8796 points to win by a massive margin and securing her third success of the current series on Harley lunged by Nelson Vidoni.
Andreani, now 28, last competed in Leipzig two years ago in the first FEI World Cup Vaulting Final. After the first round he was tipped to win, but the then World Champion Patric Looser (SUI) moved ahead in the second round to claim the first FEI World Cup Vaulting title.
Andreani did not want to make the long trip to Leipzig with his own horse Just A Kiss, but participating in Leipzig was key to qualifying for this year’s final in Braunschweig (GER).
When he asked Patric Looser for help, he got an immediate yes. This year in Leipzig, Looser lunged three competitors on the 12-year-old Westphalian bay gelding Radix SB, who is based at Looser’s stable in Cologne.
“Within the international Vaulting family there is a fantastic bond,” said Looser. “For sure, in competitions we are competitors. Everyone must handle their own problems and challenges and has to wait for the decisions of the judges. But in the Vaulting circle we are all good friends, we do training sessions together and have fun at parties all around the world.”
But even the most successful vaulter of recent years, who retired after securing last year’s World Cup title in Bordeaux, was nervous before going into the arena in Leipzig. “I had faith that Nicolas would win with a good margin if he was performing on his own horse, so I wanted to offer him the best opportunity to do the same on Radix,” Looser said.
This was no easy task, as Looser had no experience of Andreani’s freestyle routine on Radix SB. “In the first competition our interaction was perfect, but in the second this was much more tricky.”
But Andreani skilfully replaced some difficult elements of his freestyle, showing a very clean free section on Radix SB, who is 1.9m tall, and finished with a spectacular twisted back flip dismount. “Radix is a very good horse. I felt comfortable despite him being three inches taller than Just a Kiss. I was surprised that this became such a small problem for me,” Andreani said.
Andreani had put himself under considerable pressure before the second round. “I wanted to win so much here in Leipzig, and with Patric’s help I managed to overcome my little Leipzig hurdle – many thanks to Patric,” he said.
Germany’s Thomas Brüsewitz, Junior Male champion at the FEI Open European Vaulting Championships 2011, secured second place in Leipzig with 8,447 points on Airbus lunged by Irina Lenkeit.
Leipzig was Brüsewitz’s first Senior competition in his first Senior year, and he used his Wild Card to impress the spectators at this high-profile international event.
His performance was full of dynamism, with impressive strength elements and original choreography. “It has been a wonderful feeling to be here in front of this amazing crowd and to perform so well,” said the 18-year-old, who received the go-ahead to compete in Leipzig only days before the competition.
Brüsewitz was ecstatic later that evening when he heard that he will also be competing with a Wild Card at the final, alongside his older brother Victor who secured second places in Munich and Salzburg.
The 28-year-old Lukas Klouda (CZE), who also competed on Radix SB lunged by Patric Looser, took third place in Leipzig with 8370 points and currently leads the series rankings after winning the Munich and Salzburg legs.
Impressive victory for Cavallaro
Italy’s Anna Cavallaro, 26, continued with her impressive run of victories in Leipzig, and her goal at the Final in Braunschweig is very clear: “That’s the town where I want to win,” she said.
Her self-confidence seems well justified, with no-one being able to beat the young woman from Verona. In Leipzig, her virtually error-free performance secured her a total score of 8,796 points. Judge Helma Schwarzman (GER) said: “She has an incredible freestyle routine with nearly perfect execution. When she vaults, my heart flutters.”
“It is impossible to describe how I feel after winning in Leipzig, where the FEI World Cup Vaulting series was born,” said Cavallaro at the press conference, where she also thanked her lunger Nelson Vidoni.
With her outstanding freestyle performance to the song “Time to Say Goodbye” sung by Andrea Bocelli, Cavallaro seemed to vault directly into the hearts of the audience, and Vidoni was happy to compete in front of a packed arena. “It shows that Vaulting has finally arrived as an international equestrian sport,” he said ecstatically.
Switzerland’s Simone Jaїser on Luk, lunged by Rita Blieske, finished second with 8199 points and is now qualified for the Final.
Third-placed Regina Burgmayr (GER) on Cappucino, lunged by Tessa Lubben, earned 8103 points, and is also looking forward to Braunschweig: “It is a great honour to be able to compete at the Final, especially as this will take place in Germany. I’m happy that all vaulters will start on zero at the Final, and I’ll be working hard now to improve more and more for that challenge.”
The final leg of the World Cup series will take place in Bordeaux on February 8 to 10.
Reporting: Daniel Kaiser