Caen, France – On the fourth and final day of vaulting competition, World Championship titles were decided in the Pas de Deux, Individual Female, Individual Male, and Squad divisions. A packed crowd at the Zénith witnessed the best of the best in the discipline of vaulting perform their Second Round Freestyle Tests in front of the judging panel of Sue Detol, Elzbieta Dolinska, Anita Flamand, Véronique Girard, Pavla Krauspe, Anna Kull, Helma Schwarzmann, and Karolina Wickholm in hopes of bringing home a medal for their country. Sisters Kimberly and Cassidy Palmer and Mary McCormick led the U.S. endeavor in the vaulting portion of the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, finishing fifth in the Pas de Deux and Individual Female Championships, respectively. The rest of the U.S. contingent had respectable performances among tough competition at a World Championship.
FEI World Pas de Deux Vaulting Championship
Kimberly Palmer (Half Moon Bay, Calif.) and Cassidy Palmer (Half Moon Bay, Calif.) had a stellar Second Round Freestyle Test on Friday, smoothing out the transitions between a few movements from yesterday. The sisters had another impressive performance to music from the movie “Frozen” while vaulting on Leon 364, a 16-year-old Wurttemberger gelding owned by Wolfgand Renz and Maren Illig and lunged by Renz. For their performance, the Palmers received a score of 8.151, putting them in fifth place for the Second Round Freestyle Test. In the FEI World Pas de Deux Vaulting Championship, they came away with a fifth-place finish on a total score of 8.150.
“I thought it was good, probably better than yesterday,” Cassidy commented about today’s performance.
“It was incredible. That feeling, I can’t even explain it when you got out there, it’s just amazing,” Kimberly described of her feelings while running into the arena. “It’s so worth all of the training we have been through.”
Kristian Roberts (Moss Beach, Calif.) and Mary Garrett (Mountain View, Calif.) had a lovely performance to “Nessun Dorma” by Andrea Bocelli, also cleaning up movements in the routine from the previous day. Vaulting on Diva 506, RVC Gilching e.V.’s. 11-year-old Oldenburg mare lunged by Carolyn Bland, the pair painted a beautiful picture throughout the routine. Roberts and Garrett received a score of 8.043, ending up in sixth place for the test. Overall, they finished the championship in seventh place with a score of 7.886.
“This round was much better than the first round,” Garrett said. “We were still, I think, a little shaken up from our first round, so we didn’t quite have the expression we wanted, but we hit every move and we are really proud of that.”
“It has just been an amazing experience to have made it this far,” Roberts said of what he is taking away from his Pas de Deux experience at the 2014 Games. “To have come from a year ago neither of us having done Pas de Deux before; Mary had some team experience and I had never done anything like this before. Having made it to WEG is just an incredible feeling.”
Jasmin Lindner and Lukas Wacha of Austria claimed the FEI World Pas de Deux Vaulting Championship title on a score of 9.059 in the division’s debut at an FEI World Equestrian Games. The Silver medal went to Pia Engelberty and Torben Jacobs of Germany with a score of 8.605 overall, while Great Britain’s Joanne and Hannah Eccles received the Bronze medal for their overall score of 8.575.
FEI World Female Individual Vaulting Championship
McCormick (Woodside, Calif.) ended her third FEI World Equestrian Games experience on a high note, with a strong performance, laying it all on the table. Vaulting on Susan Sydney Frankel’s Palatine, a 16-year-old Westphalian gelding, lunged by Bland, McCormick’s challenging routine received a score of 8.506 to finish in sixth place. In the FEI World Female Individual Vaulting Championship, she came in fifth with a total score of 8.112.
“I really came into this round wanting to go for it and just give 100% and I feel like I really did that,” McCormick said. “Palatine was right there for me. He was absolutely amazing for the fourth day in a row, so I’m really pleased with the go.”
Even though she has been to numerous large-scale international competitions, McCormick remains surprised by how quickly they come to a close.
“It’s overwhelming. It’s such an incredible experience and you plan for such a long time and it’s over in an incredibly short period of time,” McCormick said. “I feel like being here with my country was amazing, I love representing the U.S. at international competitions, especially at these big events, and I could not be more proud of my team, horse, and lunger.”
Elizabeth Ioannou (Saratoga, Calif.) put forth a solid effort in the final day of competition in her first FEI World Equestrian Games as an Individual. Though it wasn’t her smoothest performance, she had quality movements choreographed to her fun, modern-type swing music. With Jarl, a 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Lasse Kristensen and Emma Seely and lunged by Kristensen, Ioannou finished in 13th place in the Second Round Freestyle Test with a score of 7.802. Overall, she was 10th with a total score of 7.795.
“The beginning felt really good. It got a little stressed in the middle, a little flustered,” Ioannou commented. “I didn’t end on the note I wanted to but it’s okay.”
“No matter what it was a great experience,” Ioannou continued. “I was just really happy to come here and make round two, I fulfilled my goal there, I’m grateful for that.”
Joanne Eccles of Great Britain was the Gold medalist in the 2014 FEI World Female Individual Vaulting Championship with a score of 8.718. Anna Cavallaro of Italy earned the Silver medal for her total score of 8.452, while the Bronze medal went to Switzerland’s Simone Jäiser on a score of 8.433.
FEI World Male Individual Vaulting Championship
Roberts (Moss Beach, Calif.) returned to the arena on Friday to close out his 2014 Games appearance by completing the final test of the Individual Male division. He had a great Second Round Freestyle Test to score 7.615 and finish in 11th place. With Diva 506 and lunger Bland, Roberts performed consistently all week, and he couldn’t ask for much more at a World Championship. He finished the 2014 FEI World Male Individual Vaulting Championship in 11th place with a total score of 7.376.
“After doing the first Freestyle, it felt so good and I just tried to keep that same idea of how I performed all my moves in my head so I could come back in here and do the same thing again and I think I did,” Roberts stated. “I just had such a great time here and I’m so lucky to have been here.”
Gabe Aniello (Austin, Texas) had an excellent Freestyle test, earning his highest scores of the championship with a powerful performance. For his efforts, he was ninth in the Second Round Freestyle Test with a score of 8.062. Having respectable performances throughout the 2014 Games, Aniello finished on a total score of 7.359 in 12th place with Ferdinand 194, a 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by RVC Gilching e.V., and lunger Bettina Gross.
“It was awesome today; it felt really good,” said an enthusiastic Aniello. “Ferdinand really liked the arena so that is awesome and Bettina did really great. I definitely couldn’t have done it without them. Best scores of the week so yay!”
Aniello was pleased to be able to compete in his first FEI World Equestrian Games and “check that off the list.” He enjoyed his time at the prestigious competition, saying, “It was a lot of fun, I’m really glad I got to be a part of it.”
Jacques Ferrari of France earned the 2014 FEI World Male Individual Vaulting Championship Gold medal with a total score of 8.629. Fellow countryman Nicolas Andreani received the Silver medal for his overall score of 8.498 and Erik Oese of Germany took home the Bronze after finishing on a score of 8.483.
FEI World Squad Vaulting Championship
The Woodside Vaulters brought a full day of vaulting to a close with a wonderful Freestyle performance. During their “Wizard of Oz”-themed routine, Tessa Divita (Emerald Hills, Calif.), Audrey Kiernan (San Mateo, Calif.), Siddhartha Kreaden (Sunnyvale, Calif.), Kristen Kuhn (San Mateo, Calif.), Rachel Polati (Emerald Hills, Calif.), and Miki Yang (Los Altos Hills, Calif.) demonstrated strong exercises, including challenging triple exercises. The U.S. Squad had a fall during their First Round Freestyle Test on Wednesday, but was in top form on Friday. Vaulting on Stanford, a 16-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Julie Divita and Woodside Vaulters and lunged by Julie Divita, they earned a score of 7.861 for their Second Round Freestyle Test to put them in sixth place in the final phase. The U.S. Squad ended up seventh place in the 2014 FEI World Squad Vaulting Championship with a score of 7.356.
“I thought it was really exciting, it was really good,” Tessa Divita said. “We started off the way we wanted to and we all kept it together, were smart, and made good decisions. It was really fun.”
“It was really fun out there,” said Yang, the youngest member of the Squad. “Even though things were a little iffy in the ending triple, we still saved it and we did pretty well.”
The Squad was originally formed to head to the FEI World Vaulting Championship for Juniors in 2015 but performed so well throughout this year that they made it to the 2014 Games. The girls have undoubtedly gathered plenty of experience as they continue to work toward their initial goal.
“I just think it is a really great experience, especially at a young age, and to be part of such a great experience with a bunch of awesome girls, it has been really fun,” Kiernan said.
Germany was named the 2014 FEI World Squad Vaulting Champions with a total score of 8.724. The Silver medal went to Switzerland with a score of 8.503 and France claimed the Bronze medal on a score of 8.315.