The first-ever FEI World Vaulting Championships for Juniors, staged at Ermelo in The Netherlands from 6 to 9 August, has been hailed a resounding success. A massive entry of 56 vaulters from 21 nations, including 11 Pas-de-Deux partnerships and a full 12 Squads, ensured a packed four-day programme of top competition. Team Austria scored a double in the Female and Squad events while vaulters from Colombia and USA claimed the Male and Pas-de-Deux titles.
This is an equestrian sport that has been developing at a rapid rate, and growing in popularity year-on-year since the first major international competition took place in July 1978 at St Moritz in Switzerland. Previously the most important competition for Juniors was staged at Open-European level, but this year marks a turning point, and World Championships for Juniors will in future be staged in alternate yearly cycles.
The colossal crowds that turned out to see the best vaulters in action at last year’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Normandy, France indicated the extraordinary level of interest in this discipline. And the introduction of Pas-de-Deux has drawn an even wider audience and developed the sport even further, as the flair and imagination of the athletes and their support teams moves on to another level.
A total of 37 female and 19 male competitors lined out from a record 21 countries right across the globe. The flags of Austria, Australia, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Great-Britain, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Mauritius, Netherlands, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland and USA all flew high, and there were plenty of stand-out performances. In another first that demonstrated the truly global aspect of the event, competitors from four different continents claimed a step on the podium during the week.
The Junior Female Individual title went to Austria’s Nicole Kirbisch. She scored 7.704 in round 1, 7.821 in round 2 and 7.990 in the Freestyle for a final tally of 7.763 with her horse Royal Salut and longeur Manuela Barosch. Germany’s Franziska Peitzmeier, her horse, Dorian Gray and longeur, Anna Brinkman, claimed the silver, scoring 7.704, 7.821 and 7.990 for a total of 7.99. And Individual Female bronze went to Manon Moutinho from France and his two team-mates the horse Poivre Vert and longeur Francois Athimon, who posted 7.628, 7.647 and 7.973 for an overall mark of 7.638. Austria’s Emily Kristofics-Binder received strong artistic marks, but her finishing score of 7.480 left her just off the podium. There was great excitement when Colombia’s Juan Martin Clavijo claimed the Individual Male title. Helped by Quiece d’Aunis and longeur Sandra Tronchet, the talented 15-year-old vaulter took the early lead with a mark of 7.492 in round 1 and never looked back. He was the only one to score above 8 in round 2, and again in the Freestyle, and his overall score of 7.812 left him well clear of Germany’s Tim Andrich in silver medal spot. Assisted by his longeur Claudia Westerheide and his horse Polan Z, Andrich posted 7.373, 7.706 and 7.983 to complete with 7.540 on the board. And there was even more of a buzz when Lambert Leclezio from Mauritius, who has received support from the Solidarity Programme and who was presented with the FEI Rising Star Award at last year’s General Assembly in Baku, Azerbaijan, earned the FEI World Junior Male Individual bronze title.
Junior Squads gold went to Club 43 from Austria, their horse Darwin 5 and longeur Karen Asmera who were in a league of their own throughout the competition. They earned 7.447 in round 1, and then 8.153 in both round 2 and the Freestyle to complete with a finishing mark of 7.682. Junior Team VV Ingelsberg l from Germany, with Alexander Harti at one the end of the lunge-line and horse, Lazlo 9, at the other end, filled silver medal spot when 7.507 and 7.873 in both round 2 and Freestyle put them on 7.629 on the final afternoon. And America’s Woodside Vaulters, longeur Lasse Kristensen and horse Ghost Alfarvad Z took the bronze here, their 7.134 in round 1 and 7.799 in the next two competitions combining for a final result of 7.356.
The Americans dominated the Pas-de-Deux, Bodhi Hall and Michelle Guo posting 7.799 for gold and Sarah Dunn and Janie Salisbury teaming up to take bronze on 7.018. They were separated by Austria’s Sandrine Flicker and Heike Hulla whose mark of 7.609 challenged the gold medallists all the way.
FEI livestream was available for the event and with an average of 14,000 views per day on YouTube it is clear that this ever-growing sport has enormous appeal.
FEI Director for Driving, Reining and Vaulting, Bettina de Rham was delighted with the inaugural fixture. “The Organisers have put in an enormous effort to ensure this first World Championship has been a great success at Ermelo. The new developments at the venue provided excellent facilities and conditions for both horses and athletes, and the OC clearly contributed to the tremendous atmosphere at the event” she said today.
Junior Female Individual Championship: GOLD - Nicole Kirbisch (AUT) 7.763; SILVER - Franziska Peitzmeier (GER) 7.699; BRONZE - Manon Moutinho (FRA) 7.638.
Junior Male Individual Championship: GOLD - Juan Martin Clavijo (COL) 7.812; SILVER - Tim Andrich (GER) 7.540; BRONZE - Lambert Leclezio (MRI) 7.267.
Junior Squad Championship: GOLD - Club 43 (AUT) 7.682; SILVER - Junior Team VV Ingelsberg l (GER) 7.629; BRONZE - Woodside Vaulters (USA) 7.356.
Junior Pas-de-Deux Championship: GOLD - Bodhi Hall/Michelle Guo (USA) 7.799; SILVER - Sandrine Flicker/Heike Hulla (AUT) 7.609; BRONZE - Sarah Dunn/Janie Salisburry (USA) 7.018.
For more information visit www.vaulting2015.com