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Germany once again showed itself to be a vaulting superpower, dominating the 4th leg of FEI World Cup™ vaulting in Mechelen (BEL), with Viktor Brüsewitz and Corinna Knauf winning their respective classes in convincing style.
Brüsewitz and Knauf lead throughout the competition with displays of sheer strength, power and harmony, capitalising on a number of mistakes from their fellow competitors - the pressure evident in performances by both vaulters and horses.
The second day action kicked off with ‘Showman’ Balzas Bence (HUN) who partnered with Elimar in his 2nd international competition. Bence readjusted and simplified his freestyle in an impressive display of horsemanship to ensure a good experience for this upcoming horse (7.099).
As competitors took to the arena in reverse order from the first day standings, in a shock turn of events, 2nd to enter was this year’s FEI World Cup™ title holder and winner from the Salzburg qualifier, Jannis Drewell (GER).
Favourite coming into the event, Jannis suffered a first round fall from long-time equine partner Diabolus 3 who wasn’t entirely at ease in the Mechelen arena, leaving Drewell in 4th place going into the second round.
Comeback king, Drewell performed an exceptional second day freestyle, executing all his difficult moves in utter harmony, to score 7.872 - applying pressure to the remaining three competitors to go.
Unfortunately for Wilfing, after an entertaining first round performance of his ‘Jungle Book’ freestyle, second day Humphrey Bogart became unsettled after a slight miss-timing in a difficult cartwheel into outside bounce.
Wilfing therefore used a substantial amount of the allotted 1 minute 20 seconds allowed to reassure Humphrey Bogart, finishing on a total of 6.697.
Bundeswehr sport soldier, Miro Rengel, once again proved why he is a rising star of the sport competing on George’s Fiano in his first FEI World Cup competition. Miro scored 7.547 to occupy 2nd place behind Jannis Drewell with one vaulter to go.
What a way to get your FEI World Cup vaulting campaign 2017/2018 underway, decked out in gold attire, Viktor Brüsewitz’s intent was clear. Alongside acclaimed lunger Kai Vorberg and Claus, he showed power coupled with smooth dynamic transitions, encompassing the whole horse, to gain an impressive two day combined score of 8.458.
After two convincing, dramatic, expressive rounds, Viktor was the clear winner dominating the field. Attending only two qualifying stations this series - Mechelen and the upcoming qualifier in Leipzig - Brüsewitz took home the much needed, maximum World Cup qualifying points.
The action intensified as the women’s class got underway with horses and vaulters alike succumbing to the added FEI World Cup™ vaulting pressure - making for riveting viewing.
Wildcard entrant, Belgium’s Lauren Vanlerberghe entered to great applause from the home crowd. Unfortunately Espri was quite unsettled, meaning that Lauren was unable to fully show her Spiderman freestyle (3.658).
Current Junior European Champion, 16 year old Mara Xander was next to try her hand in front of the World Cup crowd. Unfortunately she suffered a costly fall in her outside bounce (6.989).
Winner from the Paris qualifier, Manon Noel took to the arena as the sole French representative and current leader of the FEI World Cup qualifying table.
After a harmonious first day performance of her Amelie Poulain freestyle, which delighted the Paris crowd a mere few weeks ago, the second round was not without its challenges. Not quite able to find form, Manon suffered a fall from Kirch de la Love to finish on a total of 7.272.
With three to go who could hold their nerve?
Carola Sneekes performed with utter grace and ease alongside Marjo Sneekes on the lunge and Safari H. Smooth and secure she scored a total of 8.045, mounting an impressive assault on the leader board and firmly putting pressure on the remaining two German competitors.
Highly decorated multi-medallist Sarah Kay was next into the arena. Dark, dramatic and difficult her freestyle was action packed. However it wasn’t enough to hold off Carola, slipping into 2nd on 7.790.
In a freestyle master class, Corinna Knauf put on a show of utter athleticism and dominance. Performing with minimal deductions, she scored highly across all three categories - horse score, technique and artistic. Corinna took her first FEI World Cup qualifying title of the 2017/2018 season scoring 8.452 on Fabiola with her sister Alexandra Knauf on the lunge.
Corinna capitalised on her 2nd place finish in Madrid putting herself in a strong position to qualify for the final come March.
With two more chances left to qualify for the final, the pressure is on. Vaulters will head to Leipzig on the 19th and 20th of January where Krisitina Boe and Anna Cavallaro will once again go head to head and the Brüsewitz brothers will battle it out in the male category. Get ready, in Leipzig the Pas de Deux competition is back!
Written by Hannah Eccles
Images by Dirk Caremans