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This week they head to Ebreichsdorf in Austria to join a packed line-up full of previous medal & World Cup winners to compete at the FEI European Vaulting Championships.
Here the ‘Best vaulters of 2016’ take us through what this award means to them and their expectations for this week’s competition…
Jannis: “This is one of those things that I have always dreamed of achieving. It is unbelievable that that 2016 was my 2nd consecutive year finishing top of the World rankings.”
Kristina: “I feel very honoured to be named the best female vaulter of 2016. This award means that you were consistent over the whole season and perhaps has more relevance than winning a medal.”
Stefan & Theresa: “It makes us extremely proud. This award shows who is actually performing well over the whole year and not just at a single competition, therefore it is an honour to be named the best pas de deux of 2016, ahead of so many great vaulters.”
They treated us to unforgettable freestyle themes with Jannis personifying Sherlock Holmes, Kristina’s zombie interpretation and Stefan & Theresa’s stunning depiction of ‘Elisabeth’ the Austrian Empress and her dramatic dance with death…
Jannis: “I had a very good season last year with great results. It was not easy for me to prepare for 2016, because of that great year in 2015 where I won the FEI European Championships—together with my team we had to find a way to improve on the year before. After a setback in Aachen, we had very short preparation time. However we went to the World Championships and won the bronze medal.”
Kristina: “In 2016 most of the competitions worked out the way I wanted. I was well prepared at the beginning of the year, but still had enough potential left to improve as the season progressed. It helped that I loved performing both my programs and I didn't need to readjust anything during the year. In my opinion that was the key to my success.”
Stefan & Theresa: “2016 was actually a very turbulent year for us. Following a couple of successful competitions, during preparation for the CVI in Frenstat, Theresa broke a bone in her foot. After the doctor's initial prognosis of 6 weeks in a cast she showed great determination to recover in 4 weeks so that we were able to compete in Aachen—our final selection trial—where we managed to win and secure our place at the Championship.
“The FEI World Championships in Le Mans unfortunately didn’t quite go to plan. After suffering a fall we finished in 5th place but we had hoped for more. Despite this we were thrilled to top the FEI World rankings and be awarded the title of the ‘Best Pas de Deux of 2016’ closing the season on a positive chapter.”
2017 has been a season full of ups & downs for Jannis, Kristina and Stefan & Theresa…
Jannis: “This year has been another special journey. We had a wonderful start winning the CVI in Ermelo. However, a few weeks later I suffered a knee injury and had to undergo surgery. The European championships will be my first competition post operation, but I'm feeling good and I am well prepared for the competition!”
Kristina: “My preparation also hasn’t been quite as good as the 2016 season. Throughout the year I have needed to make readjustments to my freestyle. It has now come together and is working really well. I am 100% convinced of what I'm doing and in the end that's what matters.”
Stefan & Theresa: “2017 is very exciting for us. We have a new theme moving away from love and passion onto ancient folks in the jungle—hunting, praying & surviving. We've been competing quite a lot this year and with every competition we gain experience. We love what we have created and are really looking forward to competing at the European Championships with Karin Böhmer our trainer & lunger and most importantly Crossino 2 our horse.”
Jannis: “As the current European champion, I would love to defend my title. However I know the other competitors and it certainly won't be easy!”
Kristina: “My expectations are to show my best. I am not expecting perfection, just no unnecessary mistakes. I'm hoping for a medal, but I am aware that it's a tough competition this year…Of course if I could, I would choose to win!”
Stefan & Theresa: “Next week we would love to do two solid rounds in front of our home crowd. That is the goal we would love to achieve. As it is a home championships the atmosphere for us will be amazing.”
And what are our ‘Best Vaulters of 2016’ most looking forward to about this year’s championships…
Jannis: “I am really looking forward to seeing everyone again, and being back in competition after my injury.”
Kristina: “The team spirit! That's what makes a championship so much more special than a normal competition.”
Stefan & Theresa: “Vaulting at a championship in your home country is probably the best thing that can happen in a vaulter’s life.”
Text by Hannah Eccles
Images by Richard Juilliart, Daniel Kaiser, Gustavo Lorenzo & Andrea Fuchshumer