Spectators were treated to dazzling performances at the last FEI World Cup Vaulting 2013/2014 qualifier at the famous Partner Pferde in Leipzig last weekend, writes Daniel Kaiser.
Victors Anna Cavallaro (ITA), Lukas Heppler (SUI) and Germany’s pas-de-deux powerhouse Pia Engelberty and Torben Jacobs impressed at the German venue, and victory was particularly sweet for Switzerland’s vaulting star Heppler, the only athlete to have competed at all four legs of this year’s series. His determination finally paid off, with a comfortable first FEI World Cup Vaulting win on Luk, lunged by Rita Blieske (8,323 points).
“We set ourselves the goal of at least one podium finish in this series. I came closest in Salzburg with second place, and I’m proud of finishing fourth at last year’s Final – really this year we just dreamed of a victory”, said Heppler.
“We owe this performance to Luk and his owner Simone Jäiser, and to the audience in Leipzig where you could really feel that vaulting passion”.
Heppler now leads the FEI World Cup Vaulting standings and will compete in the Final in Bordeaux on 7-8 February with Germany’s Jannik Heiland, who placed second in Leipzig on KCM Vaultinghorses Bram with lunger Maurits de Vries (8,117 points), and compatriot Torben Jacobs who secured third on Flash Back lunged by Alexandra Knauf (7,929 points).
World champion Nicolas Andreani (FRA) will also head to Bordeaux to defend his title alongside European champion Jacques Ferrari (FRA) and Lukas Klouda (CZE), who won the Munich and Salzburg legs of this year’s series.
Anna Cavallaro, the reigning FEI World Cup Vaulting champion, is now a firm favourite for the Bordeaux Final after her second victory in this year’s series on Harley with lunger Nelson Vidoni (8,377 points). “Leipzig was once again a brilliant location for a World Cup competition”, said the 28-year-old Cavallaro.
“The arena and the audience were fantastic. I felt great and now we’re all focused on Bordeaux where I’ll be defending my title against very strong competition”.
Second-placed Simone Jäiser (SUI), the 27-year old businesswoman from Freudwil, is also fired up for Bordeaux after achieving the highest individual score in Leipzig – 8,636 points – in her second round with Luk, lunged by her mother Rita Blieske.
Germany’s Corinna Knauf, who kicked off this year’s FEI World Cup Vaulting series in style winning in Munich’s Olympic stadium, also secured her spot in Bordeaux placing third in Leipzig with Fabiola, lunged by her sister Alexandra Knauf (7,902 points).
Pascale Wagner (SUI), Lucy Phillips (GBR) and Elisabeth Bieri (SUI) complete the line up for the Bordeaux Final.
Pas-de-deux, which made its first appearance in this year’s FEI World Cup Vaulting series, has been a huge draw for audiences, with the athletes pulling out all the stops to get to Bordeaux.
Germany’s Pia Engelberty and Torben Jacobs on Danny Boy, lunged by former world champion Patric Looser in Leipzig, notched up their second victory after Paris, winning both rounds and finishing on 8,454 points thanks to their expressive and complex choreography. Currently lying second in the series standings they have guaranteed their ticket to Bordeaux.
Austria’s Stefan Csandl and Theresa Thiel, vaulting on Crossino lunged by Karin Böhmer, celebrated their second place with 8,047 points, and hope to be at the series Final next year, when they plan to meet the minimum requirement of competing at two legs of the series.
Hungary’s Reka Gadolla and Agnes Kiraly on Zakarias, lunged by Natalia Sandor, took third place in Leipzig with 7,148 points, and will compete in Bordeaux against the American sisters Cassidy and Kimberly Palmer and two of Austria’s best pas-de-deux Evelyn Freund and Stefanie Millinger and double world and European champions Jasmin Lindner and Lukas Wacha.
“The determination of all 18 vaulters who represented eight nations at the last leg in Leipzig to secure coveted spots at the series Final in Bordeaux was palpable in every routine”, said Bettina de Rham, FEI Director of Vaulting, Driving and Reining.
“We’re also thrilled that the pas-de-deux has made such a successful FEI World Cup Vaulting début, with massive support from the vaulting community and audiences – the pas-de-deux will now be a permanent fixture.
“We’ve seen some exceptional vaulting talent in this third series, catching some exciting glimpses of what we can expect to see at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy this summer, the next world stage for these athletes. But first we have the Final in Bordeaux in just two weeks, which will be extraordinary!”
The FEI World Cup Vaulting Final will take place on 7-8 February in Bordeaux.