World champions Nicolas Andreani and Anna Cavallaro, and European and World pas-de-deux champions Jasmin Lindner and Lukas Wacha showcased their remarkable talents with victories at the penultimate leg of the FEI World Cup Vaulting series in Salzburg, Austria.
A total of 22 vaulters from six nations competed at the Pappas Amadeus Horse Indoors last weekend, where after a nine-month wait that seemed like an eternity, World champion Nicolas Andreani was back on top of the podium again after winning both rounds with a score of 8,596 points.
“This is such a great feeling, I’ve really missed it!”, said Andreani, the 29-year-old fitness coach from Paris. Like a true world-class athlete, he performed his routine on a horse he had never competed with before, Le Grand Chevalier, lunged by Eva Maria Kreiner.
Impersonating Albert Einstein in a routine choreographed to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Andreani finished with the theoretical physicist’s trademark pose – eyes wide open, with his tongue sticking out. “I wanted to imitate a genius”, explained Andreani. “I also wanted to know how the judges would evaluate my new freestyle, so that I have enough time to perfect it for next year’s World Equestrian Games.”
Switzerland’s Lukas Heppler celebrated second place after securing his FEI World Cup personal best in Salzburg with 7,922 points on Luk, lunged by Rita Blieske. Unfortunately, European champion Jacques Ferrari (FRA) failed to get into complete harmony on Watson, the 11-year-old chestnut gelding making his FEI World Cup Vaulting début in Salzburg lunged by François Athimon, leading to a final score of 7,705 for third place. “They did a great job, and I’m satisfied that under such close scrutiny at World Cup level this was a very successful first appearance for Watson,” said French national coach Davy Delaire.
Anna Cavallaro, the 27-year old Italian champion, took the Salzburg leg with a score of 8,504 on Harley lunged by Nelson Vidoni. “Dropping to fifth in the second round in Munich was still in my head, and I was worried this could happen again in Salzburg. I’m so happy now!”, said Cavallaro, who put in an outstanding performance to Andrea Bocelli’s The Dream.
Switzerland’s Simone Jäiser, a 27-year-old businesswoman from Zurich, secured second with 8,200 points on Luk lunged by her mother Rita Blieske, with compatriot Pascale Wagner, a 25-year-old fitness coach from Bern, taking third with 7,934 points on Viva Alegria lunged by Michael Heuer.
The World and European pas-de-deux champions Jasmin Lindner and Lukas Wacha from Austria’s Tirol region scored an impressive 8,868 lunged by their coach Klaus Haidacher on reserve horse Famous Face, as Elliott was unable to compete due to injury. After just two days of training on Famous Face, they impressed the judges with their faultless performance with difficult choreography.
Salzburg vaulting heroines Evelyn Freund and Stefanie Millinger made it a 1,2 for Austria on home soil with 8,347 points on Robin, lunged by Nina Rossin, and the USA’s sister act of Cassidy and Kimberly Palmer took third with 8,134 points on Leon, lunged by Wolfgang Renz.
FEI World Cup Vaulting now heads to the Partner Pferd in Leipzig (GER) on January 16 to 19.
Reporting: Daniel Kaiser