There is great anticipation as the FEI World Cup™ Vaulting 2015/2016 season gets underway with a double-bill of events in Paris (FRA) and Madrid (ESP) next weekend.
This sport, which has grown massively in terms of public and media support and appeal in recent years, will be showcased over five qualifying rounds this winter, and the stars will be out in force when the action gets underway in Madrid on Thursday evening.
Vaulting demands outstanding physical fitness from the athletes and a harmonious relationship with the horse that carries them through their routine. Mounting and dismounting, shoulder and handstands, kneeling and standing exercises and carrying or lifting another vaulter are just some of the tests. The key to success is a lot of hard work and dedication along with artistic flair and gymnastic ability. And team-work is also crucial, with a lunger ensuring the horse maintains a steady canter on a circle no smaller than 15 metres.
At its best, Vaulting is a joy to watch, with grace, energy, power and discipline combined with a huge sense of drama and entertainment. The buzz of excitement created in the Vaulting arena at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy (FRA) last year was unforgettable, and indoor audiences will enjoy lots more of the same over the months to come.
There are three categories of competition in the FEI World Cup™ Vaulting series, Individual Male, Individual Female and Pas-de-Deux.
The Female line-up is headed by Switzerland’s Simone Jaiser who claimed individual gold at the FEI European Vaulting Championships in Aachen (GER) this summer. The 29-year-old, who was individual bronze medalist at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy (FRA), clinched it with a performance that oozed comfort, confidence and class, and she will be the one to beat when the first of the two Freestyle competitions kicks off at 19.00 local time at the Spanish venue on Thursday.
Also lining out in the Female division will be Austria’s Isabel Fiala and Daniela Fritz, while French vaulter, 30-year-old Anne-Sophie Musset, who was a winner at CVIO4* Saumur (FRA) in April and runner-up at the CVI3* in Moorsele (BEL) in May, will be hoping to put the pressure on Jaiser. The Swiss athlete, her lunger Rita Blieske and her horse Luk have enjoyed a fabulous year with wins at Moorsele, Bern (SUI) and Wiesbaden (GER) in the lead-up to Aachen however, so is firm favourite at the opening leg.
The Individual Male competition in Madrid has attracted three strong contenders including Switzerland’s Lukas Heppler who just missed a medal when finishing fourth at the FEI World Cup™ Vaulting 2015 Final in Graz (AUT) earlier this year and another 22-year-old, Italy’s Francesco Bortoletto who was individually sixth at last year’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Caen (FRA).
At 29 years of age, Germany’s Daniel Kaiser has a lot more experience under his belt however, and the vaulter who came out on top at Ermelo (NED) in August and who has a European bronze medal in his trophy cabinet, will be putting the pressure on his younger opponents.
At the same time as the second and deciding competitions take place at the Spanish fixture, the first of the two Freestyle competitions will be getting underway in Paris on Friday evening. And with The Netherlands’ Clair de Ridder and Carole Sneekes, Switzerland’s Pascale Wagner and Nadja Buttiker and Italy’s Anna Cavallaro all vying for the Female honours this is going to be another hard-fought affair.
A real battle
And Paris promises a real battle in the Male division, with Czech Republic’s Lukas Klouda, Hungary’s Balazs Bence and Switzerland’s Andrin Muller taking on the host nation’s Clement Taillez and Vincent Haennel.
French spectators truly love this sport, and especially the emotion of the Pas-de-Deux. America’s Kimberly and Cassidy Palmer have enjoyed a spectacular year, with four CVI victories to their credit, and Germany’s Jolina Ossenberg-Engles and Timo Gerdes, who missed out on a spot at the European Championships this year, will be doing their very best to please the judges knowing that the French brother-and-sister duo of Lucie and Simon Chevrel will have the home crowd right behind them.
The FEI World Cup™ Vaulting season will continue with legs in Salzburg (AUT) on 4 and 5 December, at Mechelen (BEL) on 26 December and in Leipzig (GER) from 14 to 16 January.
All competitors have had to qualify for entry to the series so top-class competition can be expected, and the excitement is just about to begin…..
“We look forward to the start of this new World Cup season in a discipline which has now secured its place at the forefront of equestrian sport, and we are very pleased to welcome two new venues, Madrid and Mechelen, to the series this year”, says FEI Director for Driving, Reining and Vaulting, Bettina de Rham.