American Vaulters Prepared for Challenges in Spain
Monday, August 5, 2002
August 5, 2002 - The Vaulting Committee of USA Equestrian named the vaulting contingent to represent the United States at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Jerez, Spain in September. Kenny Geisler, Devon Maitozo and Erik Martonovich are to compete in the Men's Division. The Women are Pam Geisler, Jill Main and Samantha Smith. The F.A.C.E. Vaulters of Moorpark, CA will compete in the Team classes.
Chef d'Equipe, Emma Drinker, will join the group and act as advocate for the equestrian vaulters at WEG. "This is an experienced and talented group of athletes. They are well prepared for the challenges that will face them in Jerez," said Drinker. American Vaulters have earned medals at all three previous World Equestrian Games. Vaulters and coaches are making final preparations for the competition, and feel that medals are again within the grasp of this strong field of contenders.
USA Equestrian staff have worked hard and dedicated themselves to helping the vaulters finalize plans as they head to Spain. The United States Equestrian Team (USET) has joined in the efforts and has for the first time assisted in fundraising efforts on behalf of American vaulters.
Sally Ike, USET Director for Show Jumping and Vaulting Activities, said: "I'm thrilled to be helping vaulters and I have enjoyed working with them. My children vaulted ten years ago and I've been able to renew old friendships. I'm confident that USET can provide logistical support to the vaulters." USET has announced that they will match all funds raised on behalf of the athletes before July 31, 2002.
Competitors from the seven FEI disciplines, including: Dressage, Driving, Endurance, Eventing, Reining, Show Jumping and Vaulting will participate in the fourth World Equestrian Games in Spain, September 10-22, 2002.
Short Biographies for vaulters and Chef d'Equipe follow
KENNY GEISLER (21) Diamond Bar, CA
Geisler starting vaulting in 1985 at the age of 4, after learning about it from older sister Pam, who is also a member of the vaulting group headed to Spain. Kenny was the American Vaulting Association National Champion in 2001 and was a member of the vaulting contingent at WEG III in Rome, 1998 and an alternate to the World Championships in 2000. Kenny trains 15 hours a week in addition to his full time job. Geisler plans to return to Cal Poly Pomona in the fall to complete his Bachelor's Degree.
DEVON MAITOZO (27) Acton, CA
Maitozo was named World Vaulting Champion, 1998 at WEG III in Rome. In addition to the gold medal in 1998, Devon earned bronze medals at the World Vaulting Championships in 1996 and 2000. This will be his sixth trip to World Championships representing the United States in the Men's Individual Division. Should he medal in September, he will be the only man in the world to have earned four medals in vaulting. Devon will also coach the members of the contingent who will compete in the Team Division at WEG in Jerez, Spain. This graduate of UC Santa Cruz, with a BA in Theatre Arts, hopes to one day merge his passion for vaulting, theater, dance and music and establish an equestrian theater.
ERIK MARTONOVICH (24) Golden, CO
Martonovich first vaulted at the age of six, and loved the excitement, the movement and being outdoors with horses. Inspired by the possibilities of the sport, he began his own vaulting team at age 14. Many of the individual vaulters that Martonovich has trained have earned success at the national level. Martonovich represented the United States at the World Equestrian Games in 1998, where he placed 14th. He was also selected to the U.S. contingent for the World Vaulting Championships 2000 in Mannheim, Germany. He was Men's National Champion in 1996, 1997 and 1998 and Pas de Deux National Champion in 1999 and 2000. He is the founder of Big Horse Productions specializing in custom equestrian performances.
Alternate: BLAKE DAHLGREN (18) Sun Valley, CA
Vaulting since the age of three, Dahlgren will be a freshman at University of California - Santa Barbara in the fall and will pursue a career in Sports Management. He has earned a reputation as the best standing base in the United States and participated in World Vaulting Championships 2000 in Mannheim, Germany where his team placed 7th.
PAM GEISLER (25) Diamond Bar, CA
Geisler began vaulting at the age of 6. When she saw a vaulting demonstration, she fell in love with the sport. Pam first competed in international competition in 1992 at the World Vaulting Championships in Heilbronn, Germany where the U.S. Team placed 4th. She later was selected to be a member of the United States vaulting contingent in 1998 at the World Equestrian Games (Rome) and placed 8th. She also competed at the World Vaulting Championships in 2000. Pam said, "I love vaulting because of the unique balance of fluidity, connection and harmony with the horse and vaulting provides a unique outlet for my creative and artistic nature." She is a graduate of UC Santa Cruz and currently works for an educational non-profit in Oakland, CA and coordinates a project evaluating social justice and violence prevention. Pam plans to attend graduate school in the future.
JILL MAIN (20) Woodside, CA
Vaulting for the last ten years, Jill has had many vaulting successes both as an individual vaulter and as a team vaulter. She began representing the United States in international vaulting competitions in 1995. Jill loves the challenges that vaulting provided while working with the horses that she treasures. She believes that vaulting has provided her opportunities which have shaped her life. She states that she found her role models, best friends and support system in the vaulting community. Main is a pre-med student at UCLA and plans to pursue a career in sports medicine.
SAMANTHA SMITH (16) Saratoga, CA
Smith has been vaulting since the age of three, after riding her pony to a nearby farm where she watched a local team practice. She was soon their newest member. Smith says, "I'm able to combine my two most favorite things in the world: horses and gymnastics!" Samantha trains 6 days a week. In addition to earning the highest total score at this year's selection trials, Smith was Reserve National Champion in 2001, Reserve Champion at the CVI Saratoga in 2001, AVA Region II Gold Reserve Champion in 2000, 2001. She has earned many awards in team competition and will be an alternate at the World Equestrian Games in that event.
Alternate: JULIE KEVILLE (18) Cotati, CA
Julie first learned about vaulting from her grandmother at the age of four. She was the alternate to the World Vaulting Championships in 2000 (Mannheim, Germany) and has been a successful gold vaulter earning many regional and national titles.
FREE ARTISTS CREATIVE EQUESTRIANS (F.A.C.E.) Moorpark, CA
Vaulters: Tricia Thompson (17) La Canada, CA
Rachel Torres (15) Los Angeles, CA
Leah Smith (16) Bainbridge Island, WA
Adrian Matsumoto (17) Los Angeles, CA
Blake Dahlgren (18) Sun Valley, CA
Shannyn Poer (16) Acton, CA
Sterling Weatherly (11) Agoura, CA
Jaclyn Adkins (15) Milford, DE
Alternate(s): Bethany Haas (13) Temecula, CA
Angel Omer Hart (15 ) Corrales, NM
Samantha Smith (16) Saratoga, CA
Coaches: Devon Maitozo and Carolyn Bland
Coach Devon Maitozo is an accomplished vaulter with many personal achievements. He became the Men's World Vaulting Champion in 1998 and he began coaching the Barronsgate Vaulters in 1999. The team became the C-Team Champions in 1999. He set his sights and standards high and trained the team for A-Team competition. In 2000 they were selected to represent the United States at the World Vaulting Championships and placed 8th. He and longeur Carolyn Bland founded their own team the following season (Free Artists - Creative Equestrians) and they became the National A-Team Champions in 2001and in 2002. The Team was recently honored by the City of Los Angeles for their accomplishments.
EMMA DRINKER, Saratoga, CA
Drinker has been head coach of the Mt. Eden Vaulters for the last fifteen years. She began vaulting at age 10 and since that time her vaulting accomplishments have been significant. She has earned her (r) status as a vaulting judge with the American Vaulting Association and coached Kerith Lemon to four medals at World Vaulting Championships. She is co-author of the recent publications "THE COMPULSORIES: Training for Coaches" and "THE KUR: Training for Coaches". Drinker has been Chef d'Equipe at many international vaulting competitions.
The American Vaulting Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization for the education and promotion of vaulting. Vaulting is the sport of gymnastics and dance performed on and in harmony with the equine partner. For more information about vaulting please visit our website at: www.americanvaulting.org.