Aachen (GER)-Spectators at Aachen’s Deutsche Bank Stadium will be treated to a four-day feast of top class vaulting, with 47 vaulters targeting the male and female individual medals, 18 going for gold in pas-de-deux and a massive 66 athletes competing in squad.
The German squad vaulters are reigning European champions and since the first FEI European Vaulting Championships were held in 1984 in Ebreichsdorf (AUT) they have taken the title a record seven times, with Switzerland its nearest rival with five squad wins. Now on home soil, the German squad is understandably confident. “Aachen is like our personal living room”, explains Germany’s squad trainer and lunger Jessica Lichtenberg.
“Our vaulters are based just 75 kilometres away, and our club - Team Neuss - has won an international title non-stop for the last nine years. Of course we can only focus on our own performance and power on the day, but I think we have it in our hands.”
The video of Team Neuss’ striking performance in Verden (GER), where they qualified for Aachen, went viral on Facebook with over 2.3 million views and thousands of comments from international Vaulting fans - see the video here. Vaulting on the FEI’s own YouTube channel has also been phenomenally successful, so much so that the FEI chose to livestream and run re-live, or playback, videos from the very first FEI World Vaulting Championships for Juniors at Ermelo (NED) earlier this month, attracting thousands of daily views.
“Our vaulters are the secret online stars in equestrian sports”, Lichtenberg says. In response to this growing social media phenomenon, the FEI European Vaulting Championships 2015 will be serialised on the FEI’s social channels using the #Aachen2015 hashtag, and Aachen spectators are being urged to share and tag their favourite vaulting stars on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The door has been left wide open for new European individual vaulting champions to be crowned in Aachen, following the retirements of the current champions Joanne Eccles (GBR) and Jacques Ferrari (FRA), and France’s vaulting icon and former world champion Nicolas Andreani.
France’s Vincent Haennel and Clement Taillez have had a strong season so far, as have Germany’s vaulting brothers Viktor and Thomas Brüsewitz, and FEI World Cup™ Vaulting star Lukas Klouda (CZE). Austria’s Ramin Simon Rahimi, the 2013 FEI European Vaulting Junior champion, and the current European Junior champion, Hungary’s Balázs Bence, are also expected to pose a major challenge in Aachen.
In the female individual competition, vaulting experts are predicting a duel between Italy’s Anna Cavallaro, FEI World Cup™ Vaulting champion in 2013 and 2014 and silver medallist at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy, and Switzerland’s Simone Jäiser, who scored bronze at these same Games and is currently at the top of the FEI World Vaulting Rankings. Germany’s Lisa Wild, who made headlines at the FEI World Vaulting Championships in Le Mans (FRA) in 2012 back-flipping off her horse - which earned her the nickname “backflip queen” - is also a very strong contender for the European title after winning her first FEI World Cup™ Vaulting Final in February.
A total of nine pas-de-deux will target medals in Aachen. Austria’s Jasmin Lindner and Lukas Wacha, the current world and European champions, with their striking 1.90-metre tall gelding Bram, are the big favourites. Germany’s Pia Engelberty and Torben Jacobs, who are trained and lunged by former World Champion Patric Looser (SUI), have been beaten several times by the Austrian pair, but have had a strong season so far with their daring and edgy vampire themed routine, and intend to go all out in Aachen.
The first FEI European Vaulting Championships medals will be awarded on Saturday 22 August. The pas-de-deux will kick off at 15.30 CEST, followed by the male individuals at 16.25. The female European champion will be crowned on Sunday 23 August, with the competition starting at 11.15 CEST, and the squad competition starts at 13.10 CEST.
Visit www.aachen2015.de for more information