10.10.10

USA Claims Gold In Vaulting World Championships At Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Results, Vaulting, World Equestrian Games at 9:28 pm by Press Release

Lexington, KY—If you asked the Team USA vaulters how they were feeling this afternoon, they’d answer with a chorus of screams. They feel that good, because they pulled out a come-from-behind win to earn the team gold medal at the Vaulting World Championships, held as part of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

“We really connected today—we looked each other in the eye,” said team member and coach Devon Maitozo. “Our horse was just beautiful, and we had the love of the audience with us, which helped. We just were in our bodies today.”

Today was a contrast from the previous team freestyle competition on Friday, when two team members fell from their horse, because, said Maitozo, the team horse, Palatine, was spooky in the arena. The U.S. team had led after the compulsory exercises, but then dropped to third place after the fall, behind Germany and Austria.

To prepare for Sunday’s round, Maitozo said, “We made a different plan for the horse and for ourselves. We took a step back from the intensity of the energy before. We really calmed ourselves down, collected ourselves, and the horse had a longer warm-up but a much more calm warm-up.”

The plan worked, and the judges rewarded the U.S. team with the highest freestyle score of the day (8.779), which brought their composite score up to 8.029

The team’s lyrical performance was set to music from Sergei Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet,” a ballet that was “spiced up” by Maitozo, said team member Rosalind Ross. She added, “That’s how we strive to set ourselves apart from the rest of the competition, by making vaulting more like a dance performance and a theater performance, not merely gymnastics on horses.”

“We want it to be a dance,” said Maitozo. “We want it to be a drama of emotion, of movement, elegance – with the horse, not against the horse. We’re dancing with the horse, not on the horse.”

Other U.S. team members were Blake Dahlgren, Annalise Van Vranken, Mary Garrett, Mari Inouye and Emily Hogye. The team longeur and horse trainer is Carolyn Bland.

The experienced team previously won the 2010 United States Equestrian Federation/American Vaulting Association national title. Members of this team were also on the 2006 World Equestrian Games silver-medal team and the 2008 bronze-medal team in the World Vaulting Championships. Maitozo was the individual gold medalist at the 1998 World Equestrian Games.

“I would say this is probably one of the most experienced teams of all time,” Maitozo said. “Cumulatively, the years that this team has been vaulting is well over 120 years. We have a long relationship.”

Germany, which had been leading going into Sunday’s freestyle, suffered a fall in the performance but still had a strong enough composite score (8.010) to earn the silver medal.

Team member Michaela Hohlmeier said, “It’s just sad, [but] it’s sports, so it can happen.”

Germany vaulted aboard Adlon, a 15-year-old Brandenburger, and the longeur was Alexander Hartl.

Austria turned in a vigorous freestyle performance, set to the music of Cirque du Soleil, to earn the team bronze medal ( 7.990).

Team member Daniela Penz said “it was teamwork” that resulted in the team’s best freestyle performance this year. “Everyone wants a medal – and gets a medal!” she said

The Austrians were vaulting on Elliot 8 and, and the longeur was Klaus Haidacher.

Eccles And Looser Score Individual Medals in World Vaulting Championships At Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Results, Vaulting, World Equestrian Games at 3:43 am by Press Release

Lexington, KY—Joanne Eccles gave Great Britain its first-ever World Equestrian Games medal in vaulting, as she won gold in the female individual division of the Vaulting World Championships, held as part of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Patric Looser of Switzerland bested his friend and teacher, Kai Vorberg of Germany, to win the gold medal in the male individual division.

“I think I’m a little bit stunned,” said Eccles, the 2009 European champion. “I was really pleased with my performance today, but the other girls are so strong, and they all went so well. I think it’s going to take a while for it to sink in.”

Eccles’ composite score over four days of competition was 8.413.

Eccles, 21, has her father, John, as her longeur, and her sister, Hannah, as a coach. Their mother, Jane, also supports the family effort. Eccles vaulted on W.H. Bentley, a 16-year-old French warmblood-Dale pony cross, whom the Eccles family has owned for the past 11 years.

“He was absolutely perfect,” Eccles said of her horse. “I don’t have to think about him when he’s out there. He’s got such a partnership with my dad that they’re a team in themselves, and I just do my thing on top.”

Both the silver and bronze medals will be going home to Germany in the female division.

Antje Hill, vaulting on Airbus, took silver with a composite score of 8.322, while Simone Wiegele, with Arkansas, earned bronze with an 8.281. When the German contingent realized it would hold two spots on the medal podium, a cacophony of cheers and tears erupted. Hill said she and Wiegele had been rooting for one another all along.

“We were very supportive of each other, and that made us stronger as a team,” she said.

The United States’ Mary McCormick turned in the women’s highest score of the day, with an 8.680 in this freestyle competition. Her composite score (8.270) left her in fourth place.

“I came to this competition saying that all I wanted to do was my best, and I feel like I did that, and I’m not disappointed,” McCormick said. She said she now plans to go home and unwind by trail riding with her vaulting partner, Sir Anthony Van Dyck.

In the male division, it came down to the last vaulter, Looser, who in his last freestyle performance had the chance to take the lead away from Vorberg, his friend and teacher and a two-time vaulting world champion (2004 and 2006) and two-time European champion (2005 and 2007).

For both men, it was a difficult situation, and in the end, Looser said he decided to concentrate on making a clean performance and let the judges decide who was better.

Immediately after the men’s performances, Vorberg said, “He definitely deserves it. For him, it is a great achievement. He has done so much for the Swiss vaulting sport.”

Looser’s composite score after four days of competition was an 8.498, while Vorberg’s was 8.463, working aboard Sir Bernhard RS von der Wintermühle.

After a bit of reflection, Vorberg said that perhaps his freestyle music choice, “Wind of Change” by the Scorpions, had proven prophetic.

“The wind of change is coming,” Vorberg said. “I’m an old man now [at 28]. You can’t go on that long. It won’t stay like this forever, so I’m happy that I had this last peak here.”

Looser, 26, vaulted aboard a horse from Vorberg’s stable, Record RS von der Wintermühle, an 18-year-old Hessian stallion. An 18-time Swiss champion, Looser called his final freestyle performance at the World Equestrian Games “one of my best competitions, ever.”

The bronze medal went to Nicholas Andreani of France, who turned in the day’s high score of 8.905 in the freestyle. His composite score was 8.452.

Andreani’s performances have carried a military theme, and in his final freestyle, he portrayed a soldier coming home after the war. And, for him, WEG was about performing.

“In our sport, in our discipline, it’s too bad that it’s about being graded, because for me, it’s what I have in my heart and in my soul,” Andreani said. He vaulted on Idefix de Braize.

Another medal round will be held on Sunday, after the teams’ final freestyle.

Today’s total attendance was 44,954. The total attendance for the first15 days of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games is 468,340.

10.09.10

Germany Tops Team Standings In Vaulting World Championships at Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Results, Vaulting, World Equestrian Games at 3:47 am by Press Release

Lexington, KY—As vaulters prepare for medal rounds this weekend, Germany took the lead in the team competition on at the Vaulting World Championships, part of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

“The performance went very well,” said Alexander Hartl, longeur and trainer for Germany. “We can do a little bit more to [be] perfect, but this was very good. We will have to do it a little better [in the final round], and we will do it very perfect. That is our plan for the finals.”

The German team vaulted aboard Adlon, a 15-year-old Brandenburger. The Germans’ composite score is a 7.698, and they’re followed closely by Austria (7.644) and the USA (7.655). The final team competition will be a freestyle program on Sunday.

The United States, which had been leading going into today’s performance, had some bad luck when two team members fell from their horse.

“Physically we’re fine, mentally we’ll recover, and Sunday we have still a great opportunity to take back our lead,” said team member and coach Devon Maitozo.

Teams from Switzerland (7.467) and France (7.299) round out the top five.

In individual competition, vaulters performed a technical test today, which requires them to go through five exercises from different categories of motor skills. The athletes put those exercises and others of their choosing to music in a one-minute program. On Saturday, they will perform their final freestyle, and the cumulative marks will determine the medalists.

Coming out of yesterday’s individual freestyle competition, 18-time Swiss champion Patric Looser of Switzerland maintained his lead with a composite score of 8.369. He admitted to being surprised at the outcome.

“I am very happy with my technical test, because it’s not my special thing. I know that I can win a compulsory, I can win a freestyle and be in front, but a technical, it’s my thing where I have to work on it,” he said. He attributed the success in part to his horse, Record RS von der Wintermühle, an 18-year-old Hessian stallion.

“I know I have one of the best horses here, and that gives me security. It’s nice to vault on him,” Looser said.

Germany’s Kai Vorberg put in the men’s highest technical score of the day, and that moved him into second place with a composite score of 8.353. The music that accompanied his performance was his own rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” The remaining vaulters in the top five are Nicolas Andreani of France (8.301), Stefan Csandl of Austria (8.123) and Gero Meyer of Germany (8.091).

In the female individual division, the high-scoring technical test of the day moved Joanne Eccles of Great Britain, the 2009 European Champion, into the lead with a composite score of 8.327. But she said nothing is certain with one performance yet to go.

“I think the competition has been full of ups and downs. The first day, I did really well. The second day, I wasn’t happy with my performance so much. Today, I am happy again,” Eccles said. “There’s some fantastic competition here; it could go any way. There are about seven girls who are at the top, and anyone could take the lead. So if I don’t go out there and enjoy it, there’s no point in coming to the competition, so my aim is more to have a really good final round and be pleased with myself, rather than see what place I come.”

Eccles’ father, John Eccles, is her longeur and trainer, and the family owns their vaulting horse, W.H. Bentley, a 16-year-old French warmblood-Dale pony cross.

Standing currently in second place is Antje Hill of Germany with a composite score of 8.207. Simone Wiegele of Germany (8.192), Mary McCormick of the United States (8.133) and Megan Benjamin of the United States (8.065) round out the top five.

Judges are Suzanne Detol (USA), Jochen Schilffarth (GER), Erich Breiter (AUT), Martine Fournaise (FRA), Monika Eriksson (SWE), and Roland Boehlen (SUI).

10.08.10

Wiegele And Looser Set The Standard In Vaulting World Championships at Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Results, Vaulting, World Equestrian Games at 7:20 am by Press Release

Lexington, KY—Round 1 of the individual portion of the World Vaulting Championships concluded today, with the top 15 male and the top 15 female vaulters advancing to the second round of competition at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, with technical and freestyle programs yet to go.

Going into Round 2, Germany’s Simone Wiegele, a member of the gold-medal team in the 2006 World Games, leads the female division, and Switzerland’s Patrick Looser, an 18-time Swiss champion, leads the men’s division.

Vaulting combines gymnastic and dance elements, performed to music on a cantering horse. A longeur, who controls the horse, completes the three-way partnership, and harmony between all participants is imperative. In Thursday’s individual freestyle tests, which were limited to one minute, the vaulters chose their own music, which ranged from rock (“Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence) to classical Vivaldi.

Wiegele, 24, who entered the day in second place after Wednesday’s compulsory program, admitted to feeling some nerves as she began performing to an operatic score.

“At the beginning, it felt a little bit strange because of all the people and the great atmosphere and the big hall. It was a little bit scary,” she said. Her horse, 12-year-old Arkansas, gave her a good rhythmic canter, so she said her freestyle program “on him is really good.” Her cumulative score is 8.344.

Second in the cumulative female individual standings is Joanne Eccles of Great Britain (8.274). The remaining top-five vaulters are Antje Hill of Germany (8.121), Christa Kristofics-Binder of Austria (8.050) and Mary McCormick of the United States (8.050).

In the male division, some interesting themes took hold. Looser, 26, performed as an astronaut, complete with a NASA spacesuit, silver hair and silver gloves and shoes. His music was from the movie “Transformers.”

“It’s especially for here, for Kentucky,” he said. “I wanted something special to take all the people here to space and give a little bit of an American feeling back to the arena.”

Regarding his strong freestyle program, Looser said, “I [was] one of the first competitors in the field, and it’s very important that you make a clean performance, to make a bit of pressure on the others behind you. That was my goal today.”

He was vaulting aboard Record RS von der Wintermühle, an 18-year-old Hessian stallion, and his cumulative score from two days of competition is 8.524.

The other top-five male individual cumulative scores belong to Nicolas Andreani of France (8.405), Kai Vorberg of Germany (8.366), Gero Meyer of Germany (8.288) and Stefan Csandl of Austria (8.264).

The vaulting championships continue Friday with the technical program in Round 2 of individual competition and the team freestyle competition, which will complete the teams’ first round.

Judges are Suzanne Detol (USA), Jochen Schilffarth (GER), Erich Breiter (AUT), Martine Fournaise (FRA), Monika Eriksson (SWE), and Roland Boehlen (SUI).

10.07.10

U.S. Team Leads The Way In Vaulting World Championships At 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Results, Vaulting, World Equestrian Games at 3:40 am by Thomas

Lexington, KY — The Vaulting World Championships swung into action today at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, with the compulsory portion of both team and individual competition being contested at the Alltech Arena.

At day’s end, the U.S. team held the highest score (7.207), followed by Germany (6.996) and Austria (6.990). Switzerland (6.880) and France (6.594) rounded out the top five. Team freestyle continues on Friday, with the final freestyle round on Sunday.

Vaulting combines gymnastic and dance elements, performed to music on a cantering horse. A longeur, who controls the horse, completes the three-way partnership, and harmony between all participants is imperative. Vaulting has been an FEI-recognized discipline since 1983.

Although there is a lot of competition left before medals are awarded, the Americans are happy with their inaugural performance on home soil.

“We went out there, and we just took charge,” said Devon Maitozo, team member and coach of the Free Artists Creative Equestrians vaulting club, which constitutes Team USA this year. “I feel like we did one of our best sets that we’ve done. Just in watching my team, I saw people reaching their potentials in a lot of places and very few mistakes.”

The U.S. team partnered with Palatine, a 12-year-old Westphalian, who was imported from Germany in 2007 for the express purpose of competing at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. He is trained in dressage by team longeur Carolyn Bland.

In the male individual compulsory test, Germany’s Gero Meyer took the lead with a score of 8.401. German teammate Kai Vorberg followed with an 8.297. The remaining top five are Patric Looser of Switzerland (8.253), Stefan Csandl of Austria (8.077) and Petr Eim of the Czech Republic (7.923).

In individual competition, there remains a freestyle portion of Round 1 before the top 15 vaulters in both male and female divisions move into Round 2, which has a technical and a freestyle program.

Meyer said he was “absolutely satisfied” with his performance. “2010 will be my last [World Equestrian Games]. I really wanted to get here, and I got here, and I’m happy.”

Meyer, who placed second in individual vaulting competition at world championships in 2000, 2002 and 2006, vaulted on Grand Gaudino, a 16-year-old Hanoverian whom Meyer said was “doing his job very well.”

In the female individual compulsory test, Joanne Eccles of Great Britain topped the leader board with a score of 8.157. Following her are Simone Wiegele of Germany (8.037), Megan Benjamin of the United States (7.856), Rikke Laumann of Denmark (7.854) and Stefanie Kowald of Austria (7.836).

Eccles said she has had difficulty recently with the initial vault onto the horse’s back (called the mount). But the 2009 European Champion pulled it out when she needed to.

“It was my best mount I’ve done pretty much all year in competition,” she said. “That’s what actually helped my compulsories, and I think I had a pretty good set. I was really pleased with most of them. There’s not much I’d pick out from them that I was really disappointed in.”

Eccles sister, Hannah, is also competing in individual female vaulting and is currently in 16th place. Their father, John Eccles, is their longeur and trainer, and the Eccles family owns their vaulting horse, W.H. Bentley, a 16-year-old French warmblood-Dale pony cross.

The World Games’ youngest competitor, 9-year-old Robin Krause, competed on the French team, which is currently in fifth place in team standings. And China’s first WEG competitor – in any discipline – is Ling Yang, who turned in a score of 6.533 in the female individual compulsory test.

“I can’t even put words to how awesome that is,” Yang said. “I felt like that was just the icing on the cake for this whole trip.”

Countries competing in team vaulting are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, France, Great Britain, Germany, South Africa, Switzerland, Slovakia, Sweden and the United States. Countries with individual vaulters are: Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, South Africa, the Russian Federation, Switzerland, Slovakia and the United States.

Judges are Suzanne Detol (USA), Jochen Schilffarth (GER), Erich Breiter (AUT), Martine Fournaise (FRA), Monika Eriksson (SWE), and Roland Boehlen (SUI).

08.02.09

Benjamin And Geisler Star In Kentucky Cup Vaulting Climax

Posted in Disciplines, Vaulting at 8:13 pm by Thomas

Lexington, Ky., Aug. 2 – The Mt. Eden Vaulters, of Saratoga, Calif., finished the Kentucky Cup Vaulting on Sunday they way they started it on Thursday-by sweeping the first-placed awards. Megan Benjamin won the women’s division of the CVI2*, Kenny Geisler won the men’s division of the CVI2*, and the Mt. Eden Sun Team won the team division of the CVI2*. 

The Kentucky Cup is the vaulting test event for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, on Sept. 25-Oct. 10, 2010. The World Championships for vaulting and reining will be held in the brand-new, 5,600-seat indoor arena used this weekend. 

Benjamin, 21, of Saratoga, Calif., earned her division’s top scores in all but the first of the four phases and climaxed the Kentucky Cup in today’s freestyle with the competition’s highest score (8.127). Her overall score of 7.974 put her ahead of Mt. Eden teammate Mary McCormick (7.823) and Annalise van Vranken (7.562). 

Benjamin won the individual gold medal at the 2006 World Championships, and she thought she’d left vaulting to pursue her studies at Cornell University (N.Y.). “I was kind of vaulting-obsessed earlier in my life, and my goal was to win the gold in 2010. But I did it four years early, and I wasn’t sure what to do. So I decided to go on, to go to school and do other things,” said Benjamin. 

But her Mt. Eden teammates begged her to return, and now, after her victory here, she’s looking ahead to the 2010 WEG at the Kentucky Horse Park. “I’ve made the decision that if I can make the studying and the training work, I’d like to do it. Vaulting really is my sport,” she said. 

McCormick, 26, of Woodside, Calif., was the only other vaulter to achieve an average score of 8 or more today (8.033). She didn’t use the same music that she used on Friday. For the Friday freestyle, she said she used a light and free-flowing instrumental called “Better In Time.” She chose a rather different musical genre today. 

“I’m originally from Nashville, and my father works in the country music business, so I wanted to go back to my roots and honor the fact that we’re in the South and in Kentucky,” so she used a country song by Jason Aldean.

And she finished with a perfect back flip dismount, the result, she said, of her experience as a high school cheerleader. 

Van Vranken, 27, of Mays Landing, N.J., wished her performance had been mistake-free, but she fell out of one handstand had a couple more slips to score 7.562. “It wasn’t quite as clean as I’d hoped, so I was a little upset,” said van Vranken, a member of Shooting Star Vaulters. 

Geisler, 28, of Sunnyvale, Calif., won all four phases of the men’s competition to finish .525 points ahead of second-placed Mikkel Vandrup of Denmark.  Geisler’s balletic freestyle was nearly flawless as he demonstrated strength and control.

 

“I had a great performance, and I couldn’t have done it without Hudson,” said Geisler. 

Geisler’s regular mount was unable to compete, so he shared Hudson with third-placed Kristian Roberts, 16, of Moss Beach, Calif. Roberts is from the Pacific Coast Vaulters, owners of Hudson. 

Vandrup, 23, improved his freestyle score by .347 points to overtake Roberts and finish second. “I was a little bit frustrated with my results on Friday, so I tried to keep it simple and remember to breathe while I was on the horse, because sometimes I forget to do that,” he said. 

This time Vandrup also stayed on his feet while performing a forward aerial cartwheel over the longe line to land next to the horse’s head. On Friday, he fell forward on landing and did a somersault across the ground. “I was happy that I landed the dismount this time,” he said. 

Geisler also played a key role in the Mt. Eden Sun Team’s victory over the Woodside Vaulters, reversing the standing’s from Saturday’s one-star team competition. In the two-star team division, Mt. Eden scored 6.512 to Woodside’s 6.154. 

Geisler was the team’s alternate and stood on the sidelines as his teammates nipped Woodside on Friday. But during that performance, team member Ali Thrasher suffered a minor injury, so Geisler’s teammates spent Saturday fashioning a matching outfit for him. Geisler then played a key role as the base for several of their three-person poses, featuring flier Tasha Thorner. 

The Mt. Eden Sun Team also included Geisler’s fiancée Kalyn Noan. They’re due to be married on Aug. 22. 

The other Mt. Eden Sun Team members are: Lizzie Ioannou, Heidi Rothweiler and Makayia Clyne. Jessica Ballenger is the coach, and Jodi Rinhard longed Sampson. They were also the American Vaulting Association 2009 A team national champions.

The Woodside team members are: Patrick Stevens, Katherine Wick, Alyssa Bonora, Yvonne Greenen, Kathryn Jaggers, Janie Salsbury and Gabe Aniello. Their coach is Krista Mack, and Erik Martonovich longed Badger. 

Cassidy Palmer, 16, of Half Moon Bay, Calif., and Marissa Hamar, 20, of Visalia, Calif., were the winners of the CVI2* pas de deux. Although they live several hours apart, they still put together an enjoyable performance to the Beach Boys’ classic song “Surfin’ USA.” 

More than 2,200 people attended the Kentucky Cup Vaulting or watched the online streaming video. More than 300 volunteers helped the staff produce this competition, the second of seven test events planned to prepare for the 2010 World Equestrian Games. 

“This facility certainly has a very international feel, and we’re looking forward to 2010,” said Geisler. “We couldn’t ask for more to be fully prepared for next year.” 

To see photos of the Kentucky Cup Vaulting, go to http://www.americanvaulting.org/kvc/pr/media.htm.

Bublitz Scores Best In CVI1* At Kentucky Cup Vaulting

Posted in Disciplines, Vaulting at 8:27 am by Thomas

Lexington, Ky., Aug. 1 – Rachel Bublitz, of Golden, Colo., emphatically won the CV1* women’s division at the Kentucky Cup Vaulting this afternoon, earning the top scores in both the morning’s compulsory round (7.073) and in the afternoon’s freestyle round (6.819). 

Bublitz’ overall score of 6.895 kept Kyra McCarty of San Mateo, Calif., in second (6.573) and Kathryn Jaggers, of Portola Valley, Calif., in third (6.508). 

Bublitz, 16, of the Golden Gate Vaulters, presented a strong but elegant performance, with some daring movements that outweighed a slight mistake on one pose and her horse, Oliver, breaking to the trot for several strides. She used music by Doris Day for her freestyle.

“I wasn’t sure I’d won by the time I finished, because of those bobbles,” admitted Bublitz. 

Josef Martonovich, her longer, said that Bublitz’ personality overcame the minor mistakes. “It was her experience and her cool head that won. It was my mistake that the horse broke to the trot, but she just stayed quiet to let him canter again,” said Martonovich. 

He also thought Bublitz performed a more difficult test than most of her competitors, meaning she earned high marks for degree of difficulty. “She’s pushing the edge, and I think that balances it out if there are little mistakes,” he added. 

McCarty, 17, vaulted with Vermeer, a relatively new horse on the Mt. Eden Vaulting Team, longed by Jessica Ballenger.  Her performance was bold and assured and earned the second-highest freestyle score (6.504).  McCarty also earned the second-highest score in today’s compulsory round (6.947). 

She said she chose a slow piece of classical music for her freestyle because “it gives me a chance to present myself well, and this time every single move worked. It was the best it’s been all year, so I didn’t really care about the score or the placing because of that.” 

Jaggers, 15, a member of the Woodside Vaulters, used an instrumental version of the Rolling Stones classic “Brown Sugar.” Her mount was Pepper Jack, longed by Jennifer Arntsen. Pepper Jack also carried Yvonne Greenen to fourth place and Grace Koz to fifth place. 

“I’d used Latin and other types of music before, and this year I decided to try something new, and it was really fun,” said Jaggers. 

Joey Gadd, of the Mt. Eden Vaulters, easily held on to the lead he grabbed in the first round of compulsories, decisively winning the men’s one-star freestyle (5.893) to coast to the overall victory (5.843) over Shawn Ricci (5.524) and Clay Thomas (5.318). 

To the heavy drumbeats from the theme of the movie “Waterworld,” Gadd, of Saratoga, Calif., turned in a dramatic and mistake-free performance.   

“It’s strong music, and I think my horse, Lanson, and I work well with it,” he said. 

Gadd, 14, added, “I’m going to go home to California and tell a lot of people how great the Kentucky Horse Park is and tell them to come watch the vaulting at the WEG next year.” 

For the two one-star teams, this afternoon’s second and final freestyle was absolutely decisive. The seven-member teams, both from the San Francisco Bay Area, had traded the lead through the two previous rounds, with Mt. Eden winning the compulsory round and Woodside taking the lead after the first freestyle. This afternoon Woodside edged the Mt. Eden Eclipse by .2, leaving them just .013 points ahead in the final calculations. 

The Mt. Eden Eclipse team-containing two girls in the top 10 of the one-star individual standings and the leader of the two-star individual competition-showed more sophisticated choreography and musical interpretation. Woodside relied largely on the daring poses of their two 11-year-old fliers (Tessa Divita and Siddhartha Kreaden) to soar high above the ground, and two of the three judges preferred their verve and excitement. 

Grace Koz used to be one of the team’s fliers, but now she’s the base for Kreaden. She said that lifting Kreaden over her head is her favorite part of the routine. Kreaden agreed. 

“It’s really fun, and I trust Grace a lot,” she said. “I’m going to go home with a smile on my face and remember all the good times we had on our team.”

The other Woodside team members are: Julia Plungy, Katrina Nibbi, Sarah Dunn and Christine Hermann. 

The Mt. Eden Eclipse team members are: Megan Benjamin, Kyra McCarty, Laura Yelavich, Merina Rainville, Adna Revell, Stacey Burnett, Steffi Schade and Cate Thomas. 

 Anna Thomas, of Richmond, Va., and Elizabeth Brigham, of Potomac, Md., won the National Pas de Deux Competition today. They’ve been working together for abut three years and also won the American Vaulting Association national championship last month. 

The CVI2* continued today with the technical program, in which vaulters must perform five specified moves within one minute, but they can perform them in any order and add additional moves to enhance their programs. 

The two round 1 leaders-Megan Benjamin (7.927) and Kenny Geisler (7.046)-increased their leads with assured and nearly flawless performances. 

Mary McCormick (7.753) and Anna Van Vranken (7.498) are trailing Benjamin. Kristian Roberts (6.406) and Mikkel Vandrup (6.405) are trailing Geisler. 

The CVI2* competition climaxes on Sunday, starting at 10 a.m. 

To see photos of the Kentucky Cup Vaulting, go to http://www.americanvaulting.org/kvc/pr/media.htm.

07.31.09

Benjamin and Geisler Take Command At Kentucky Cup Vaulting

Posted in Disciplines, Vaulting at 9:39 pm by Thomas

Lexington, Ky., July 31 — Kenny Geisler and Megan Benjamin, the most successful American vaulters competing today, solidified the Mt. Eden Vaulters’ domination of the Kentucky Cup Vaulting today. Geisler, 28, is leading the CVI2* men’s division (6.979) at the competition’s halfway point, and Benjamin, 21, is leading the CVI2* women’s division (7.933). 

The Kentucky Cup is the vaulting test event for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, on Sept. 25-Oct. 10, 2010. 

Benjamin, the 2006 World Champion, won the freestyle decisively today, scoring 7.993 to best runner-up Mary McCormick, 26, of Woodside, Calif. (7.527), who won the compulsory phase yesterday. Benjamin is now the overall leader (7.887), with McCormick second (7.527). Annalise VanVranken, 27, of Mays Landing, N.J., stands third overall (7.520). 

“This was the first time everything seemed to go really well in a long time,” said Benjamin, of Saratoga, Calif. Although she was a member of the silver-medal U.S. team at the 2008 World Championships, she said that “for the last year I’ve been doing a lot more studying than vaulting.” She now has her sights set on the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. 

McCormick said that she had some trouble getting used to Lanson 16, who isn’t her usual mount. “I was a little disappointed in the way it went. It felt like we were out of sync with each other,” she said. 

Vanvranken was pleased with her score, considering that “I kind of fell out of one of my moves.” 

Geisler, an international competitor for more than a decade, won today’s freestyle by .3 points to widen the lead he took in Thursday’s compulsory round. His two-day total of 6.979 has put him comfortably ahead of Kristian Roberts, 16, of Moss Beach, Calif. (6.700). Mikkel Vandrup of Denmark has moved into third place (6.404). 

“I just concentrated on trying to do my best today, and that’s how it worked out,” said Geisler, of Sunnyvale, Calif.

Vandrup performed some of the day’s most daring moves, including dismounting with a forward arial cartwheel over the longe line to land next to the horse’s head. But he couldn’t hold the landing and somersaulted once across the ground, coming right back up on his feet.

“I wanted to do my thing—to go out there and entertain, and I hope the people watching had some fun,” said Vandrup, Denmark’s most accomplished male vaulter.

          Rachel Bublitz, 16, of Parker, Colo., was the only woman in the CVI1* division to achieve an average score above 7.0 today. With a score of 7.387, she’s now taken a commanding lead (6.844) over Kathryn Jaggers, 15, of Portola Valley, Calif. (6.488). First day leader Kyra McCarty, 17, of San Mateo, Calif., placed third in the freestyle to fall to third overall (6.420). 

Rachel Bublitz displays her strong suit, jumps!

Rachel Bublitz displays her strong suit, jumps!

          “I was really shocked by my scores today, but I’m pleased because I know I could do even better,” said Bublitz. “The jumps are kind of my strong suit, and I did them well.” 

          McCarty knows that anything could happen in the next two phases. “Sure, I could have done better today, but you can’t complain if you’re in the top three,” she said. 

          McCarty’s Mt. Eden teammate Joey Gadd held on to the top spot in the men’s CVI1*, winning the freestyle by almost .8 points to take a commanding overall lead (5.832). Gadd was the only one of the three male competitors to not receive a major deduction for falling from the horse’s back. 

          “It was the best freestyle I’ve ever done,” said Gadd, 14, of Saratoga, Calif. He said he’s suffered a series of minor injuries this year and had missed training. “I thought I did it well this time and that I accomplished my goals,” he added. 

          Shawn Ricci stands second (5.391), and Clay Thomas stands third (5.363). 

          The Mt. Eden Eclipse one-star team held its lead in the team competition, despite several mistakes that included one member falling off their horse Sir James. The Woodside team actually won today’s freestyle (5.687 to Mt. Eden’s 5.220), but Mt. Eden’s lead from the compulsory phase has kept them .15 points in front. The Mt. Eden vaulters said they hoped that today’s performance had shaken out their nerves before Saturday’s decisive second freestyle. 

          But the Woodside two-star team turned the tide on the Mt. Eden Sun team in their division. This Woodside squad also decisively won today’s freestyle—and by enough to take the overall lead. Woodside’s two-day total is 6.569, while Mt. Eden’s is 6.186. 

          The CVI1* divisions conclude on Saturday with a second compulsory and a second freestyle round. The CVI2* divisions will give a special evening performance to start the second rund. They’ll conclude their competition on Sunday with their second freestyle. 

          To see photos of the Kentucky Cup Vaulting, go to http://www.americanvaulting.org/kvc/pr/media.htm

About the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games
The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games are the world championships of eight equestrian disciplines recognized by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI). Her Royal Highness Princess Haya is the current president of the FEI. The Games are held every four years and this will be the first occurrence in the United States.

The Games will be broadcast on NBC Sports, which has marked the largest commitment to network coverage of equestrian sport in U.S. television history. The 2010 Games are expected to have a statewide economic impact of $150 million, and current sponsors include Alltech, Rolex, John Deere, Ariat International, Inc and Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. For more information on the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, please visit www.alltechfeigames.com

07.30.09

Mt. Eden Sweeps First Day of Kentucky Cup Vaulting

Posted in Disciplines, Vaulting at 8:16 pm by Thomas

Lexington, KY – The Mt. Eden Vaulters, of Saratoga, Calif., dominated the first day of the Kentucky Cup Vaulting at the Kentucky Horse Park. The Kentucky Cup is the vaulting test event for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games next September.

Vaulters representing the Mt. Eden team, of Saratoga, Calif., are leading the all four individual divisions and both of the team competitions.

In today’s individual competitions, each vaulter performed exactly the same one-minute routine of seven exercises, while in the team competition each of the seven members performed twice, performing a total of four exercises each. Judges from Germany, Italy and the United States evaluated them.

Mt. Eden vaulters are standing first and second in the women’s CVI 2*, from a field of 20 starters. Mary McCormick, 26, of Woodside, Calif., nipped Megan Benjamin, 21, of Saratoga, Calif., by 7.826 to 7.781. Benjamin is the reigning World Champion, and McCormick is an accomplished international competitor.

Shannyn Poer, 23, of Venice Beach, Calif., claimed third, scoring 7.463.

“I’m, obviously, very excited to be on top, and being here for this test event makes me feel a lot more prepared for the 2010 WEG,” said McCormick.

Seasoned international competitor Kenny Geisler, 28, of Sunnyvale, Calif., established a sizeable lead in the men’s 2* division, scoring 6.644. Kristian Roberts, 16, of Moss Beach Calif., earned 6.400 to grab second from Erik Martonovich of Las Vegas, Nev. (6.244).  Martonovich has returned to competition while continuing his career training horses for and performing with them in stage shows.

“This was one of the best sets I’ve been able to perform in years,” said Geisler.

With a smile, Geisler attributed Mt. Eden’s sweep of the day to “a great organization. We have a lot of people helping us out, but the most credit goes to our coaches, Emma Seely and Jessica Ballenger. They’re always on the prowl for new and better horses and new ideas,” he said.

In the 2* team event, the Mt. Eden Sun Team turned in a clean, smooth and professional performance on Sampson, a horse they’d never vaulted with before. The horse they’d planned to use became sore yesterday. Their performance put them more than 1 point ahead of the Woodside Vaulters.

Kyra McCarty, 17, of San Mateo, Calif., started the Mt. Eden sweep by claiming the narrowest of leads in the CVI 1*. Both she and Rachel Bublitz, 16, of Parker, Colo., earned an average score of 6.300, but McCarty placed first because she scored higher in the tie-breaking exercise. Karly Frankel-Newman, 14, of Menlo Park, Calif., is just behind in third, scoring 6.289. A total of 33 women started the 1* division.

“We all had really clear rounds today,” said McCarty, who’s looking ahead to he decisive freestyle round. “I’m concentrating on being really there mentally for the freestyle. I want to make sure my freestyle is really clean too.”

All the leading vaulters had high praise for the new indoor arena. Benjamin, who won the gold medal at the 2006 WEG in Aachen, Germany, declared, “This arena is already better than Aachen-and I love Aachen. But this is a real indoor arena, not just an arena with a cover over it, so you don’t get wet when it rains. You don’t even hear the rain drops!”

“The arena is organized really well,” said Frankel-Newman. “My horse, Cheval, is normally not a fan of indoor arenas, but he went really well today.”

Joey Gadd, 14, also a member of the Mt. Eden team, said that his horse, Lanson 16, liked the arena too. “It’s very open. It doesn’t seem like a horse-eating cavern to them,” he said.

Gadd said that his horse’s performance was the main reason he took a narrow lead in the men’s CVI 1*, scoring 5.878 to edge Shawn Ricci, 31, of Shawsville, Va. (5.874). Clay Thomas, 14, Newtown, Va., claimed third  (5.626) in the three-man field.

“I was a little bit nervous today, but I think I did pretty well in my first international competition,” said Gadd.

“I can’t complain about my performance,” said Ricci, who’s a professional ballet dancer when he’s not vaulting 

Thomas said that he “had some mental blocks that kept me back.”

The Mt. Eden Eclipse Team, which includes McCarty and Benjamin, suffered no mental or performance blocks as they took a decisive compulsory lead from the Woodside Vaulters. The seven-member Mt. Eden team scored an average of 6.252, while Woodside scored 5.477.

The Mt. Eden Eclipse Team showed impressively crisp timing as each member vaulted on and off their horse Giovanni, and each team member demonstrated stronger, more assured poses than their rivals.

McCarty said she prefers the team competition to the individual. “If something goes wrong [for me] in the team competition, I get a lot more upset because I’ve let six other people down. I put a lot more fight into the team,” she said.

Almost all the vaulters praised the Ottosport footing that the organizing committee placed over the dirt arena floor for this event. This is the indoor version of the Ottosport footing that’s used in the outdoor arenas at the Kentucky Horse Park.

“It’s the best vaulting footing in the world,” said Benjamin.

“This footing is much more supportive than what we usually vault on. I like it very much,” said Geisler.
About the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games
The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games are the world championships of eight equestrian disciplines recognized by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI). Her Royal Highness Princess Haya is the current president of the FEI. The Games are held every four years and this will be the first occurrence in the United States.

The Games will be broadcast on NBC Sports, which has marked the largest commitment to network coverage of equestrian sport in U.S. television history. The 2010 Games are expected to have a statewide economic impact of $150 million, and current sponsors include Alltech, Rolex, John Deere, Ariat International, Inc and Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. For more information on the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, please visit www.alltechfeigames.com

07.27.09

The World Games 2010 Foundation Announces Competitors for Kentucky Cup Vaulting Test Event

Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Vaulting at 8:21 pm by Thomas

Eight countries will go head to head at the Kentucky Horse Park to compete in Kentucky Cup Vaulting, the official test event of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. 
The CVI 1* and 2* events will feature vaulters from Canada, Denmark, Italy, South Africa, Australia, Argentina, China and the United States.  The vaulters will compete individually and in teams and will complete compulsory and freestyle rounds.  Many of the athletes participating in the test event have also competed in previous World Equestrian Games as well as National and World Championships.  Notables include:
·        Ali Davita: 2008/2009 US National Champion –USA
·        Megan Benjamin: 2006 WEG Gold Medalist—USA
·        Mary McCormick: 2007 US National Champion –USA
·        Annalise VanVranken: 2006 WEG Team Silver Medalist, 2008 World Championships Team Bronze Medalist—USA
·        Kenny Geisler and Eric Martonovitch: US National Men’s Individual Team Members –USA
·        Colin Schmidt—CAN
·        Mikkel Vandrup –DEN
·        Ling Yang – CHN
The Kentucky Cup Vaulting test event will be held July 30 through August 2 in the new indoor arena at the Kentucky Horse Park. Competition will begin daily at 8 a.m. and will resume in the afternoon at 1 p.m. Admission is free to the public, and parking is $3 during the day and $5 after 5 p.m. Doors will open one hour prior to competition. 
About the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games
The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games are the world championships of eight equestrian disciplines recognized by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI). Her Royal Highness Princess Haya is the current president of the FEI. The Games are held every four years and this will be the first occurrence in the United States.

The Games will be broadcast on NBC Sports, which has marked the largest commitment to network coverage of equestrian sport in U.S. television history. The 2010 Games are expected to have a statewide economic impact of $150 million, and current sponsors include Alltech, Rolex, John Deere, Ariat International, Inc and Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. For more information on the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, please visit www.alltechfeigames.com

06.18.09

Vaulting Day Camps Designed to Grow Equestrian Sport

Posted in Disciplines, Vaulting at 7:47 am by Thomas

“Introduction to Equestrian Vaulting” Day Camps this July

Designed to Grow Sport in the Greater Kentucky Region

 
Goal is to Start 20 New Vaulting Programs at Equestrian Centers Nationwide
 
 
LEXINGTON, KY, June 16, 2009 — As part of a key initiative to bring equestrian vaulting to the home of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, the American Vaulting Association (AVA) will host a series of “Introduction to Vaulting” summer day camps and clinics in the greater Kentucky area throughout July.   The top U.S. coaches and equestrian vaulters will teach participants dance and gymnastics routines on a moving horse.
 
“Our goal is to introduce this exciting and growing sport to Kentucky and surrounding states this summer, and to give riding instructors and equestrian facilities the tools to start 20 new vaulting programs throughout the region within the next year,” said Sheri Benjamin, AVA president. 
 
The camps will be held July 13-15 at the Meadow Lake Equestrian Center in Lancaster, and July 20-22 at the Kentucky Equestrian Center in Winchester. The cost for both instructors and athletes is $150 for the three-day session. The on-site clinics may be scheduled by request.
 
During each three-day camp, the AVA will run dual tracks: a “train the trainer” program designed to teach riding instructors how to coach vaulting, and an “Introduction to Vaulting” camp for riders and athletes who want to learn the sport.
 
“It’s an ideal way to develop coordination, balance, strength, and creativity while working in harmony with your equine partner,” said Benjamin. “If you love horses, gymnastics, dance and fun, you’re a perfect candidate for vaulting!”
 
Vaulting is an excellent equestrian activity to help riders develop a better seat, posture and communication with the horse. For non-equestrian athletes, including gymnasts and dancers, vaulting helps improve overall balance, flexibility and core strength.
 
For those who prefer a custom session, the AVA is offering on-site half-day clinics throughout July, designed to bring vaulting directly to equestrian facilities in the greater Kentucky area, including the surrounding states. The AVA will provide coaches, vaulting horses and all equipment necessary for these sessions. 
 
 
To register for the camps or to get more information on the on-site clinics, click on the “Kentucky Camps and Clinics” button on the American Vaulting Association website (www.americanvaulting.org) for an on-line brochure, or call the AVA National Office at 323-654-0800.
 
About Vaulting
 
Vaulting is both a recreational activity and a competitive discipline where both gymnastic and dance elements are combined and performed to music on a walking, trotting or cantering horse. It requires a harmonious relationship with the horse and outstanding physical condition from the vaulter.
 
An FEI recognized discipline since 1983, vaulting competitions are held regionally, nationally and worldwide and individuals, pairs and teams all compete in separate events.  This variety creates an engaging experience for spectators as they watch athletes of all ages perform breathtaking routines that include artistic mounts and dismounts, shoulder stands and handstands on the horse, carrying or lifting another vaulter, and kneeling and standing exercises. 
 
Vaulting is a unique and growing sport with a rich heritage traced back to the ancient Minoans and later to Roman soldiers. It was featured in the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp as Artistic Riding and has since evolved into the sport it is today. Vaulting is a wonderful way to develop coordination, balance, strength, and creativity while working in harmony with the horse; it is used around the globe as an introduction to the equestrian world and is recognized as a technique for developing strong riders in all disciplines. 
 
About the American Vaulting Association
 
The American Vaulting Association, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is dedicated to growing vaulting in the United States through educational programs, activities and competitions. This year the AVA celebrated its 40th anniversary; it has hundreds of vaulting clubs around the nation, and hosts dozens of activities and competitions annually.
 
For more information go to www.americanvaulting.org or call the AVA National Office at 323-654-0800.
 
For more camps/clinics information go to http://www.americanvaulting.org/Kentucky/camp/index.php.
 
To see vaulting, go to http://www.americanvaulting.org/seevaulting/videos.shtml.