Germany’s Jannis Drewell produced his second successive win of the FEI World Cup™ Vaulting 2015/2016 series at the Christmas Show in Mechelen, Belgium where Switzerland’s Simone Jäiser topped the Female Individual podium and Germany’s Torben Jacobs and Pia Engelberty scooped the Pas-de-Deux honours.
The hugely popular Belgian event presented the fourth of this season’s five qualifying rounds, and Drewell, world no 1 and FEI European Male Vaulting champion, produced another spectacular performance backed up by his horse, Lago Maggiore and lunger Simone Drewell.
Jäiser also enjoyed her second win of the season, having previously topped the line-up at the opening leg in Madrid, Spain in November. And Jacobs and Engelberty secured a clear-cut Pas-de-Deux victory, the pair who took European bronze in 2013, and silver medals at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy (FRA) and again at the FEI European Championships in Aachen, Germany this summer looking as highly competitive as ever when pinning their Swiss rivals into second and third places.
The Vaulting action at Mechelen was all staged on Saturday 26 December, with the first round taking place during the noisy Kids matinee performance. The stadium was packed to capacity, with almost 7,000 spectators enjoying the entertainment, and some of the Vaulting horses were a bit nervous about the sound levels at this stage in the day. The atmosphere in Mechelen is always special, with the proximity of the onlookers creating extra pressure, but all of the Vaulting combinations returned with much greater confidence for the evening session which decided the final results.
Drewell threw down the gauntlet with a convincing win in the first round of the Individual Male competition when he earned a score of 8.411. The technical judges, Dalibor Blazek from the Czech Republic at B and The Netherlands’ Rob de Bruin at D, gave the 24-year-old athlete marks of 9.094 and 9.200 respectively. And when these were added to a massive 9.175 artistic marks from Judge at C, Jochen Schiffarth from Germany, then not even the relatively modest 6.175 awarded by Austria’s Elisabeth Mueliner for the horse’s performance could prevent Drewell from pinning fellow-countryman Thomas Brusewitz into second place ahead of French vaulter Clement Taillez in third.
And Drewell returned to do it all once more that evening, posting 8.413 to leave Thomas Brusewitz once again in his wake on 8.243 while another French contender, Vincent Haennel, this time claimed third spot on 8.143. These three athletes held on to those positions when the two competition scores were combined for a final result, Drewell finishing on a final tally of 8.412 ahead of Brusewitz on 8.174 and Haennel on 8.012.
The breath-taking height that Drewell can reach in his jumps once again held the delighted spectators in awe. Asked about his ability to stay in balance while performing such daring movements, the individual European champion joked afterwards, “well this is Jumping Mechelen, isn’t it? That’s why I jumped so high!”
His horse didn’t get the highest marks on the day, but Drewell said “he wasn’t spooky at all, so that helped me to do a good test”.
It was all plain sailing for Jäiser too, as she set the standard when scoring 8.858 in the opening session of the Individual Female competition and then came back to build on that when posting 8.683 for another win in the second round. French Vaulter, Anne-Sophie Musset, lined up second on both occasions and of course in the final analysis. Switzerland’s Pascale Wagner finished third in round 1 ahead of Germany’s Kristina Boe in fourth. But Boe moved into third spot second time out and also took third-place points at the end of the day.
Jäiser, who was so narrowly pipped by Italy’s Anna Cavallaro at the previous leg in Salzburg, Austria three weeks ago commented, "it is unusual to have the two rounds on one day in a World Cup, but in Switzerland we often have the same so we are used to it. The time was long enough between the two rounds so that it was OK for the horses. It was a great atmosphere here, and I was very happy with my performance" said the 29-year-old reigning European Champion.
There were only three partnerships competing in the Pas-de-Deux, but this competition is always a crowd-pleaser and the hugely experienced Torben Jacobs and Pia Engelberty showed exactly why they were well-fancied to come out on top in this leg of the series. The German duo were already in a league of their own when scoring 8.639 in the first round, judge at D, Austria’s Elisabeth Mueliner, awarding them an impressive 9.427 for their technical excellence while judge at C, Czech Republic’s Dalibor Blazek, awarded 8.925 artistic marks to leave them a long way ahead of Switzerland’s Alexandra Lowy and Ursina Dubs in second place and Zoe Maruccio and Syra Schmid in third.
And the winning pair scored even higher in the second round, with technical marks of 9.635 and 9.152 helping them on their way to an overall final scoreline of 8.659 for an undisputed victory with their horse, Danny Boy, and lunger Alexandra Knauf. Lowey and Dubs completed on 6.909 for second place while Maruccio and Schmid finished third on a final mark of 6.086.
Engelberty and Jacobs were delighted with their result. “ We had a great test that was very much appreciated by the public. This time of year, so close after Christmas, it is no problem for us to compete. We were very happy to come to Mechelen and we would like to congratulate and thank the organisers for allowing us to perform in front of such a big audience!" Engelberty said.
The Netherlands’ Rob de Bruin, who was President of the Ground Jury for Vaulting at Mechelen, thanked the Mechelen Show Committee for including the discipline in their show programme this year. "We saw very good tests today, but of course we had some of the best vaulters in the world in action. We were very happy with this first FEI World Cup in Mechelen, and we would like to thank the organisers for the welcome they have given us!" he said.
The fifth and final qualifier of the series will take place in Leipzig, Germany 14/17 January 2016.
Results FEI World Cup™ Vaulting 2015/2016 - Round 4, Mechelen (BEL):
1, Simone Jäiser (SUI) 8.771
2, Anne-Sophie Musset (FRA) 8.318
3, Kristina Boe (GER) 7.961
4, Pascale Wagner (SUI) 7.901
5, Corinna Knauf (GER) 7.866
6, Claire de Ridder (NED) 7.704
7, Carola Sneekes (NED) 7.535
8, Lauren Vanlerberghe (BEL) 6.723
9, Tessy Maertens (BEL) 5.301.
1, Jannis Drewell (GER) 8.412
2, Thomas Brusewitz (GER) 8.174
3, Vincent Haennel (FRA) 8.012
4, Daniel Kaiser (GER) 8.008
5, Clement Taillez (FRA) 7.868
6, Lukas Klouda (CZE) 7.773
7, Viktor Brusewitz (GER) 7.305.
1, Torben Jacobs/Pia Engelberty GER 8.659
2, Alexandra Lowy/Ursina Dubs (SUI) 6.909
3, Zoe Maruccio/Syra Schmid (SUI) 6.086.
Detailed results here