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Rip-roaring, jaw-dropping and sensational feats of gymnastic & equestrian skill, it can only mean one thing - FEI World Cup™ vaulting is back!
Three is definitely the magic number when it comes to FEI World Cup™ Vaulting 2017/2018. Not only do we have three returning, defending champions but this will also be the third consecutive year that the final will take place in the extraordinary atmosphere of the Signal Iduna in Dortmund. Remarkably three nations, Sweden, Denmark & Australia will make their FEI World Cup™ debut - from the outset this is already proving to be a historic & ground-breaking tournament.
We are in for five unforgettable months of show stopping vaulting as Anna Cavallaro (ITA), Jannis Drewell (GER) and Italian dream-team pairing of Silvia Stopazzini & Lorenzo Lupacchini (ITA) return to defend their titles.
The action will start today in Madrid before heading to Paris, Salzburg, Mechelen, Leipzig & for the very first time Offenburg will host a qualifying station.
Offenburg could prove vital as the last opportunity our vaulters have to finish the series in the top 6, thus securing their place at the final in Dortmund in March.
For Sweden, Denmark & Australia this is the first time they will have the chance to stake their claim on the series with Sandra Anderberg (SWE), Sheena Bendixen (DEN) and Jamie Hocking (AUS) blazing the trail for their respective nations.
We can expect these three pioneers to bring their own unique flare and style to the competition as they join the world’s best to battle it out for the chance to be either male, female or pas de deux FEI World Cup™ vaulting champions. With multi-medalists and world number 1’s in attendance, the competition has never looked so fierce.
Jamie Hocking has put Australia firmly on the international vaulting map over the past year. Uprooting his life beneath the Aussie sun to train and compete in Denmark under the leadership of multi-medalist lunger, coach & former vaulter Lasse Kristensen.
“It is an incredibly special honour to represent Australia at the World Cup. It means that the hard work put in by myself and those around me is starting to pay off. We still have a long way to go, but I have a chance, throughout the series, to learn valuable things and gain exposure.”
Together in his first season with new horse, 7 year-old French Kiss, the two managed to forge a strong bond, learning a lot about each other throughout the season after competing in three CVIs and the CHIO in Aachen – growing together throughout the year.
“With French Kiss and Lasse, I really couldn't ask for a better combination.”
The sacrifice and dedication has clearly paid off, gaining qualification for the World Cup series and bagging the all-important qualification score for next year’s FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon.
“Growing a good and healthy sporting community in any country is difficult and takes time, but I feel confident that Australia is making a lot of the right decisions and is definitely on its way to becoming better known on the international circuit. It takes hard work but we are getting there. I hope I can help my fellow Australians achieve their goals.”
Nordic Champion, Sandra has been delighting audiences throughout the year with her action-packed Kill Bill freestyle. However, her 2017 season got off to a turbulent start as her horse broke its leg in January setting the whole season off course. An ankle injury then followed in February putting her out of training for many weeks.
“I think that I am most looking forward to the atmosphere, to be there and just to experience a World Cup competition, which I have never done before. Hopefully it will also inspire Swedish vaulters and help them to set higher goals. The sky is the limit.”
Just 5 days before the European Championships she had to change onto a different horse. The epitome of perseverance & resilience, she competed on her reserve horse and finished in 16th place - her best placing at a European Championships.
“My aspirations for the FEI World Cup™ Vaulting 2017/2018 are to do my best, enjoy my time there and have so much fun. I love to do my freestyle, it is the most fun part.”
Sheena Bendixen already has her name in Danish vaulting’s history books after winning their first and only junior medal, taking bronze at the 2011 FEI Junior European Vaulting Championships™.
"I'm so excited to try FEI World Cup™ vaulting for the first time, it has always been one of my many dreams to compete in the World Cup.”
Danish champion for the last three consecutive years, Sheena has well and truly taken over the torch as Denmark’s best and a world beater following the retirement of multi-medalist & 2013 FEI European Champion Rikke Laumann Nielsen.
“It means a lot for our little Danish country to make an impact on the vaulting world. Vaulting is going the right way in Denmark with more and more new people starting with ambition and talent. The future looks very good for little Denmark.”
How will our three pioneers fare as they battle it out with the best of the best to try and qualify for the final for the chance to be crowned FEI World Cup™ Vaulting Champions 2017/2018?
Text by: Hannah Eccles
Images by: Christophe Tanière, Jasmine Jacobsen, Daniel Kaiser, Cara Grimshaw, Liz Gregg & Social Media