Frenchman Nicolas Andreani and Germany’s Simone Wiegele were the winners in the first round of the inaugural FEI World Cup™ Vaulting event at Leipzig in Germany this evening. In the Male section Andreani, bronze medallist at last year's Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Kentucky, pipped world champion Patrick Looser from Switzerland, while Wiegele, bronze medallist in the Female event at the US fixture, edged out fellow-countrywoman and Kentucky silver medallist Antje Hill.
The vaulting competitors are delighted to have joined their Jumping, Dressage and Driving counterparts at the ground-breaking four-way finals in Leipzig and are looking forward to bringing their sport into the main arena tomorrow morning.
The smaller Hall 3, in which they competed today, proved a challenge for some. Judge, Helma Schwarzmann, pointed out that "some of the horses had problems in the arena because they are used to working in a calm environment and it was quite noisy in there. As a result, not all of them put on their best performances", she said.
Andreani however produced an excellent display with the help of his longeur, Maina Jooten Dupont and his horse Idefix de Braize. "I was happy with how it went although I think I could have done even better - I expect to produce an even better performance in the next competition."
His score of 8.780 gave him the edge over runner-up Patrick Looser, while Germany's Viktor Brusewitz finished third. Looser remains confident despite his second-place finish tonight however. "I wasn't satisfied with my Freestyle. With Nicolas here I have to be at my best, but I made some mistakes so my result wasn't good enough to win. I won't be making those mistakes tomorrow though!" he warned. And he says that he and his horse will excel in the bigger arena. "My horse is 19 years old and he likes competing - if the arena is bigger then he feels younger and he enjoys the noise of the crowd", he added.
Female winner Wiegele said she was surprised to find herself in top spot today. "It's a good feeling but I really didn't expect to do so well. I have been concentrating on team training over the past few weeks but I'm very happy to finish first here!" she explained. She beat her team-mate Antje Hill who was assisted by the same longeur, Agnes Werhahn and the same horse, Arkansas, while Italy's Anna Cavallaro slotted into third.
She said that the FEI World Cup™ Finals in Leipzig present a great opportunity to showcase the sport of Vaulting which continues to grow in popularity. "I am very happy to be here - this event is the next step to present our sport to the world", she commented.
Both of today's winners will have to be on top form tomorrow however if they want to claim the very first FEI World Cup™ Vaulting titles. Andreani remains determined to continue his winning streak - "I always hope to win, and tomorrow that is the plan!" he said, but if Looser can produce a more accurate performance than he did today then the Frenchman will be under intense pressure. Wiegele will also need to be on the top of her game to pin fellow-German Hill back. "It's going to be really exciting in the big ring tomorrow" Wiegele said.
Female Individual Round 1 - 1, Simone Wiegele (Arkansas) GER 8.320; 2, Antje Hill (Arkansas) GER 8.246; 3, Anna Cavallaro (Harley) 7.533; 4, Ines Juckstock (Lamenticus) GER 7.313; 5, Simone Jaiser (Luk) SUI 7.226; 6, Stefanie Kowald (Alando) AUT 7.200; 7, Pia Engelberty (Sir Bernhard RS von der Wintermuhle) GER 7.160.
Male Individual Round 1 - 1, Nicolas Andreani (Idefix de Braize) FRA 8.780; 2, Record RS von der Wintermuhle) SUI 8.626; 3, Viktor Brusewitz (Airbus) GER 8.080; 4, Yvan Nousse (Carlos) FRA 7.046; 5, Lukas Klouda (Sir Bernhard RS von der Wintermuhle) CZE 6.673; 6, Daniel Kaiser (Down Under) GER 5.720.
Facts and Figures
This is the inaugural FEI World Cup™ Vaulting final.
7 vaulters are competing in the Individual Female competition.
6 vaulters are competing in the Individual Male competition.
Today's panel of judges was - Helma Schwarzmann (GER), Elzbieta Dolinska (POL) and Jochen Schilffahrt (GER).
The competition took place in Hall 3 at the exhibition centre in Leipzig. Tomorrow the vaulting competition moves into the main arena in Hall 1.
Helma Schwarzmann - "three years ago vaulting took place in Leipzig for the first time and thanks to Volker Wulff it has now become a World Cup competition."
Patrick Looser - "there has been big growth in our sport since 2006 and this is another great chance for it to develop even more as it is presented to a bigger public."
Photo Caption: Italy's Nicolas Andreani won the first round of the FEI World Cup™ Vaulting Male Individual competition at the FEI World Cup™ Finals in Leipzig, Germany tonight. Photo: Stefan Lafrentz.