It was a tale of two halves on the final day of the Mustang FEI Vaulting World Championships 2022, beginning so predictably and ending somewhat unexpectedly.
The Pas de Deux class began, the rising pressure clear to see. Austrian pair Dominik Eder and Theresa Thiel sat so close to the podium in the overnight standings, however a minor fall and a few incomplete exercises crushed their hopes of a medal. The bronze heading home to Italy with Rebecca Greggio and Davide Zanella. Their ‘House of Gucci’ inspired routine was crammed full of interesting positions and artistic impression earning them a final score of 8.178.
Germany claimed both silver and gold, Diana Harwardt and Peter Kunne levelling up to win their first senior medal and finish second (8.665). However it was the 2019 FEI Vaulting European Champions, and runners up from last year - Chiara Congia and Justin van Gerven - who left both themselves and the audience speechless after performing a second seamless routine winning a 9.010. They become World Champions alongside their horse Highlight and lunger Alexandra Knauf.
It was all change in the Nations Team competition. With Aragorn 102 struggling with the building atmosphere Julian Wilfling could only post a 7.831 for Germany, not nearly enough to challenge for the gold. A display of experience, professionalism, and showmanship from Jannik Heiland pulled back the hopes of the nation and they sat in second after both individuals had competed, however it was not to be. In the squad freestyle Calidor 10 stepped in on the circle, dropping off the pace and causing an unplanned dismount leaving the horse empty. There was little the team could do to claw those points back, they finished in fourth. An upsetting end for Germany to what had been a fabulous morning.
It was a different story for Austria. After disappointment in the Squad competition, they showed what they couldn’t on Monday and, alongside some big individual scores from Isabel Fiala and Dominik Eder, took every advantage to take home the bronze, a combined score of 8.383.
Denmark had the competition of their lives. Iben Dines Pedersen competed first and bettered her performance from the individual competition. Not to be outdone, Sheena Bendixen followed and raised her bar, scoring 9.127. It all came down to the score for the squad, 8.939, well above the Austrians, and easily enough to win the silver medal (8.669).
Of course, the French were untouchable. Even with some minor faults they took the lead from the start, and it grew and grew, finishing on a final team score of 9.146 with double World Champions Manon Moutinho and Lambert Leclezio winning the final gold of the championships along with their squad from France.
It seemed only fitting after such a fine display across the competition, that the French vaulters would close out what has been an exhilarating and emotional World Championships (three gold and two silver medals), on the top of the podium.