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2017 marked the continued expansion of Vaulting worldwide, historic achievements and the emergence of a new vaulting ‘superpower’. It was truly an unforgettable year.
The year kicked off with a scintillating start at the Leipzig FEI World Cup™ Vaulting qualifier– last chance saloon for vaulters to make the final in Dortmund. The competition set the tone for what was to be a fascinating year - shocks, surprises, drama and excitement.
Germany demonstrated its Vaulting prowess by dominating all three categories with Kristina Boe winning the female division whilst Theresa-Sophie Bresch and Torben Jacobs won the Pas de Deux. All eyes were fixed on fellow countrymen Jannik Heiland and Daniel Kaiser who were locked in a tight head-to-head battle, with the latter, Kaiser - defending FEI World Cup™ champion - coming out on top.
As the Vaulting world descended on Dortmund, a new Vaulting superpower emerged as Italy toppled heavyweights Germany to head the medal table.
‘World Cup Queen’ Anna Cavallaro headed to her seventh consecutive FEI World Cup™ Vaulting final and came out with her third title. Italy’s Silvia Stopazzini and Lorenzo Lupacchini wowed on the exceptional Rosenstolz 99 to become FEI World Cup™ Pas de Deux champions – showing their intent for the season ahead.
There was still cause for German celebration as Jannis Drewell rectified the fall which cost him first place the previous year to take his first FEI World Cup™ title. Drewell’s emotion was matched only by the home crowd’s ecstatic celebrations.
March also marked the start of the International Vaulting Competition (CVI) season. CVIs were held in Ecuador, Australia, Argentina, Canada, Colombia, the USA and all over mainland Europe, providing further proof of the sport’s vast global expansion.
As the FEI European Vaulting Championships™ approached, nations began announcing selection, and two pivotal CVIs were held. In the first, CVI Krumke Team Norka gained the all-important qualification ticket for Germany by beating the famed Team Neuss by (0.066) - the closest of margins.
Then the Vaulting world descended on the annual CHIO Aachen, a vital marker ahead of the Europeans. Stopazzini and Luppachini stole the show, debuting their new high energy ‘Samba’ freestyle to great acclaim, scoring a whopping 8,933 on the second day.
Later in the month shock ensued. Austria’s Jasmin Lindner and Lukas Wacha had been on track to compete for their sixth consecutive Pas de Deux title when Lukas suffered a broken foot, ruling the two out of competing at their home championships. It was a massive disappointment for Jasmin, Lukas and the whole vaulting community.
Germany dominated once again as the FEI European Vaulting Championships for Seniors™ took place in Ebreichsdorf, Austria. Famed for their incredible characterisation, both Boe and Erik Oese fought off fierce competition to claim their first championship titles.
It was a historic win for Stopazzini and Lupacchini in the Pas de Deux, winning Italy’s first ever senior championship gold medal. Whilst Team Switzerland (Lutisburg) dominated in the compulsories with a jaw-dropping display of technical excellence, Team Germany (Norka) clawed back from third place after the compulsory round to take the much-coveted team title.
The FEI World Championships for Juniors™, also in Ebreichsdorf, got off to a breathtaking start with Colombia’s Juan Martin Clavijo defending his 2015 title, and showing that no matter the size of the Vaulting nation you can dominate on the biggest stage.
Johanna Lindberg won the first ever junior championship medal for Sweden, taking bronze. There was home crowd delight as Nicole Brabec won the junior female class and Anna Krippl and Viktoria Feldhofer won the Pas de Deux, whilst Team Germany (Nordheim) performed a vibrant, dynamic freestyle to take gold.
The CVI3* got underway in Australia with rising star Jamie Hocking winning the male category, coinciding with the news that he had qualified to compete in FEI World Cup Vaulting™ 2017-18 as the first ever Australian competitor. Joining him, making their nation’s FEI World Cups™ debuts, would be Denmark’s Sheena Bendixen and Sweden’s Sandra Anderberg.
Under the lights of Madrid Horse Week, FEI World Cup Vaulting™ 2017-18 got underway. Star horse Monaco Franze 4 carried both Cavallaro (ITA) and Lukas Heppler (SUI) to victory.
In Salzburg, Nadja Büttiker capped off an incredible year having won her first individual championship medal she went on to win her first FEI World Cup™ qualifier. The champion returned as Drewell teamed with Lunger Lars Hansen and Feliciano – gaining astonishing horse-scores in excess of nine - to take the title. Salzburg marked the start of FEI World Cup Vaulting™ Pas de Deux 2017-18 with Austria’s Ruth Viehauser and Elisabeth Kuss coming out on top.
Germany’s Oese, Italy’s Cavallaro and Stopazzini and Lupacchini led the world rankings at the end of the year.
All eyes will be on the stars of 2017 as we move towards the biggest stage in equestrian sport, the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon, North Carolina. Keep an eye on the action by checking out the Vaulting section on the FEI’s YouTube channel.
Text by Hannah Eccles
Images by Liz Gregg, Daniel Kaiser and Christophe Tanière