Host nation Austria topped the medal table for the Senior and Junior competitions at the FEI European Vaulting Championships 2013 on 1-4 August 2013 with four gold, two silver and two bronze medals. Competing in front of sell-out crowds in the Magna Racino horse park, Germany came in second with two golds, three silvers and two bronze medals, followed by Great Britain with two silver and two bronze.
Vaulting goes back to its roots
A total of 215 athletes, 60 lungers and 105 horses from 17 nations competed over five demanding days in the Lower Austrian town of Ebreichsdorf, which in 1984 played host to the first FEI European Vaulting Championships, just one year after Vaulting became an FEI discipline.
Germany, the reigning European Champions, dominated the Squad competitions, taking Senior and Junior golds. Germany’s Senior Squad finished on 8,291 points, with Austria clinching silver on 8,164 points and France taking bronze with 7,949 points. Germany’s Junior Squad powerhouse of Simone Lang-Wiegele - who won the first FEI World Cup™ Vaulting Final in 2010 - and Antje Hill secured gold on 7,876 points, with Austria hot on their heels on 7,831 points followed by Italy taking bronze with 7,544 points.
“It’s getting harder every year to win at the FEI European Vaulting Championships, as more and more nations climb up through the ranks - this is a great sign for the sport”, said German Chef d’Equipe Ulla Ramge.
Austria’s Pas-de-Deux victory
Lukas Wacha and Jasmin Lindner from Austria’s Tyrol region, performing on Elliot with lunger Klaus Haidacher, took Senior Pas-de-Deux gold again at this year’s Championships.
To Gotye’s “Heart’s A Mess”, from the soundtrack of the new big screen adaptation of The Great Gastby, the pair finished on 8,605 points, thanks to a brand new move that saw Lindner perform a dramatic handstand on Wacha’s shoulders for over three strides. “We wanted to show something new for the Europeans in our home country”, said an ecstatic Wacha.
Joanne and Hannah Eccles’ legendary sister act on WH Bentley with their lunger and father John finished on 8,123 points taking silver, and Germany’s Pia Engelberty and Torben Jacobs claimed bronze on Weltoni RS von der Wintermühle, lunged by Alexandra Knauf, with 7,914 points.
The Austrian duo Heike Hulla and Sandrine Flicker, both 15 years old and training together at the Club VG Styria, captivated the crowds on Le Grand Chevalier, lunged by coach Eva Maria Kreiner, securing Junior Pas-de-Deux gold with 7,809 points.
Last year’s Junior Pas-de-Deux winners Rebecca Norval and Andrew McLachlan from Great Britain, on Tylers Kernal and lunged by John Eccles, took silver with 7,648 points, and Germany’s Justin van Gerven and Gera Marie Grün, silver medallists last year, claimed bronze on 7,631 points with Weltoni RS von der Wintermühle and lunger Alexandra Knauf.
Laumann and Ferrari - new Senior European Champions
Denmark’s Rikke Laumann, who at 30 years old was the oldest female Senior competitor, stormed to victory in the Individual competition with a total score of 8,307 points after putting in four almost perfect, clear rounds with Ghost Alfarvad Z and lunger Lasse Kristensen.
In 1999, Laumann participated in her first FEI European Vaulting Championships, and between 2002-2005 she successively collected Individual silver medals, followed by bronze medals in 2009 and 2011, and another silver in 2012. “I still can't believe it - it is an amazing feeling to reach this goal after such a long time and hard work”, Laumann said.
FEI World Cup™ Vaulting 2012 winner Anna Cavallaro (ITA) on Harley, lunged by Nelson Vidoni, took home silver with 8,294 points, and Joanne Eccles - who has won every FEI European Vaulting Championships since 2009 - secured bronze with WH Bentley and lunger John Eccles on 8,089 points.
With Laumann finding it hard to fight back the tears of joy on the podium, Eccles was the first to celebrate her victory. “Congratulations to Rikke - she had the best competition!” she said.
The male Individual competition took a dramatic turn, when world champion Nicolas Andreani (FRA) fell during his freestyle performance, relegating him to fifth place.
France’s Jacques Ferrari on Poivre Vert with lunger François Athimonn, who had already shown he was one to beat in the days leading up to the deciding freestyle test, stole the male Senior Individual show, securing gold at his first FEI European Vaulting Championships. Dressed in white and gold, Ferrari interpreted the life of Lucifer in a stylish and mysterious freestyle performance. “I’m so happy, but the medal is not everything. I want to inspire the audience with my performances. For me, vaulting is not only gymnastics, it’s much more artistic”, he said.
Germany’s 25-year-old Erik Oese on Calvador 5 with lunger Andreas Bäßler finished on silver with 8,230 points following his stirring performance to music by Prince, while Stefan Csandl from Vienna - who competed at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Kentucky and at the FEI European Vaulting Championships in 2011 and 2012 - was delighted to reach the podium for the first time in his career, securing bronze with 7,966 points.
Austria does it again - Junior individual sensations
Austria’s 17-year-old Daniela Fritz on Royal Salut with lunger Manuala Barosch demonstrated her tremendous power and elegance to clinch Junior individual gold on 8,081 points.
Germany’s Miriam Esch on Robbie Naish with lunger Annette Müller-Kaler claimed silver with 7,890 points, and last year’s champion Anais Kristofics-Binder on Alonso with lunger Fritz Schandl took Junior individual bronze on 7,681 points.
The 17-year-old Ramin Simon Rahimi from Vienna successfully defended his Junior title, despite sustaining a shoulder injury earlier this year. On Royal Salut, and with his coach and lunger Manuela Barosch he finished on 7,985 points to secure gold.
Germany’s Julian Wilfling, competing is his first Championships on Luino, lunged by Alexander Zebrak, was delighted with silver (7,661 points) and bronze went to Great Britain’s Andrew McLachlan on Tylers Kernal with lunger John Eccles (7,551 points).
Austria’s Chef d’Equipe Manfred Rebel was ecstatic at his team’s medal haul at this year’s Championships. “I was confident we’d go home with five medals - but to get eight, with four golds, is incredible. Our vaulters have exceeded all expectations, and they really blossomed in front of their home crowd”.
Christian Kermer, President of the Organising Committee, was also thrilled: “We must extend our thanks to our 100 volunteers, who have helped to make this happen, and to the judges and coaches. Everything worked so well with such a huge number of vaulters and horses at this year’s Championships”.
Videos of the FEI European Vaulting Championships 2013 performances are available on the FEI’s YouTube channel to view and share: www.youtube.com/user/feichannel/videos.