Local hero Balázs Bence scored Hungary’s first vaulting Championships victory, and his first individual win, at the FEI European Vaulting Championships for Juniors 2014 in Kaposvár last weekend, reports Daniel Kaiser.
Austria also claimed its share of the medals at these popular championships, which this year celebrated its 10 year anniversary, scoring in the female individual (Eva Nagiller), Pas-de-Deux (Sandrine Flicker, Heike Hulla) and Squad (Alina Barosch, Melanie Gassner, Nicole Kirbisch, Niklas Lutzky, Lena Birkenau, Eva Lechner) categories.
A total of 160 athletes from 14 nations travelled to the Pannon Lovas Akadémia Equestrian Centre in Kaposvár, Hungary, which previously hosted the 1996 World and 2007 Open European Vaulting Championships.
Kaposvár-born Bence, who finished seventh in the 2012 and 2013 FEI European Junior Championships, was euphoric after his highly technical performance as Aladdin. “It feels amazing, I just can’t believe it”, the 18-year-old said after earning 7,894 points on Emir du Beaumont with lunger Claudia Petersohn (GER).
Miro Rengel (GER), from Cologne-based club Köln-Dünnwald, which is managed by former World and European champion Patric Looser (SUI), vaulted into second place with 7,785 points on Sir Bernhard RS von der Wintermühle lunged by Nina Vorberg.
Austria’s Dominik Eder, coached by Stefan Csandl – Austria’s first senior male individual gold medallist at the FEI European Vaulting Championships 2013 – took third with 7,701 points on Pius-son with lunger Marion Meißl.
Last year’s Junior Championships winner Ramin Simon Rahimi was unable to defend his title having had surgery recently, but supported the Austrian team as groom.
A new generation of Austrian female vaulters revealed their talents in Kaposvár. Eva Nagiller, 14, from Tyrol, won the female individual title (8,073 points) on Wolke Sieben, lunged by Gregor Stöckl, team bronze medallist at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in 2010, while fellow Austrian Alina Barosch, 18, finished second on De Fanou, lunged by Manuela Barosch (7,931).
Germany’s Chiara Congia on Celebration, lunged by Alexandra Dietrich, finished third (7,880) after Austria’s Nicole Kirbisch slipped following a jump on the experienced 17-year-old chestnut gelding Royal Salut, which helped secure two individual gold medals at last year’s Championships for Austria’s Daniela Fritz and Ramin Simon Rahimi.
Austria’s reigning Pas-de-Deux Junior champions Heike Hulla and Sandrine Flicker, both 16 years old, vaulted to victory once again on Le Grand Chevalier, lunged by Eva Maria Kreiner, finishing on 8,171 points with their stunning Chinese freestyle theme.
Italy’s Lorenzo Lupacchini and Erika Di Forti secured second place with their Legend of Zorro-themed performance (8,089 points) on Boston Baio, lunged by Nelson Vidoni, who coaches reigning FEI World Cup champion Anna Cavallaro (ITA).
Compatriots Laura Gavazzi and Giorgia Moscato, vaulting on Andokan and lunged by Laura Carnabuci, completed the Pas-de-Deux top three with 7,837 points.
Austria’s Alina Barosch, Melanie Gassner, Nicole Kirbisch, Niklas Lutzky, Lena Birkenau and Eva Lechner scored an impressive squad victory to a dramatic Matrix theme on Darwin 5 with lunger Karen Asmera (7,727).
Germany’s Carla Vogt, Josephine Böhner, Alica Kneuertz, Janine Michel, Delia Stecker and Angela Bheler were a close second on Dachico with lunger Anna Binkmann on a score of 7,622 after a dramatic performance to The Hunger Games theme, while Italy’s Elena Rubini, Laura Gavazzi, Lucrezia Ruboni, Ludovica Anania, Lorenzo Lupacchini and Anina Cuta Amadeo finished third on Lugano 330, lunged by Laura Carnabuci on a mark of 7,348.
Bettina de Rham, FEI Director, Vaulting, Reining and Driving, said Balázs Bence put in an incredibly strong athletic performance.
“Germany and Austria have typically dominated these Championships, but it is clear from the strong performances in Kaposvár that an exciting new generation of vaulters from across Europe has emerged, and will soon be challenging senior international vaulters.”