Celebrations began today as the first medals of the FEI Vaulting European Championships were won. France, Germany, Switzerland and Sweden all laid claim to at least one of the podium positions, as the remainder of the championship classes edged closer to the finish line.
The Senior Pas-de-Deux finally got underway in the morning with the pairs enthralling the audience. Executing exceptionally clean lines, Austrians Eva Nagiller and Romana Hintner connected effortlessly and won the round with a score of 8.515. Diana Harwardt and Peter Künne (GER) sit just behind them on 8.468, with some small hesitations in their test making the difference, while in third spot are the Swiss pair, Li Laffer and Illona Hannich (7.976). Unfortunately, the Italian Pas-de-Deux, Rebecca Greggio and Davide Zanella were unable to perform after their horse was deemed not fit to compete.
The Junior Pas-de-Deux was a different story. Complementing each other in position and movement, Giorgia Varisco and Greta Gemignani wowed the judges taking the top spot for Italy with 7.867. Once again, the talent within the class has left the final placings ambiguous with only 0.1 separating second and fifth. Second place is currently with Austrians Sarah Victoria Köck and Clara Dick (7.416) while the pair from Denmark Esther Beck Rasmussen and Wilma Baden Askbo are in third (7.336).
The Technical test continued to prove challenging in the Young Vaulter Male competition. Germany’s Bela Lehnen lost his balance and was unable to remain upright in the backwards stand, losing him the score for the exercise as well as precious seconds, which led to a penalty for exceeding the time limit. He scored 7.617 in round one, dropping into second place. Philip Clement took the advantage for Austria completing an almost perfect test aside from a landing fault, flying him into the lead on 8.150. Philip Goroncy (GER) holds onto the third spot for now (7.498).
The afternoon saw the first European Champions crowned. A breathtaking Senior Male final captured the attention of the Flyinge kungsgard arena as the level continually elevated. Quentin Jabet was unstoppable aboard Ronaldo 200 with Andrea Boe on the lunge. Full of personality, he glided through his Free test increasing his lead and easily winning the gold medal for France (8.890). Compatriot Theo Gardies presented a near perfect test almost matching Quentin’s Free test score and driving him up the scoreboard, scooping the silver medal (8.641). It was a bronze medal finish for Germany’s Jannik Heiland, the soft fluidity of his Free test allowing him the advantage over his teammates (8.543).
The female final was no less intense. Illona Hannich elegantly performed her freestyle with minimal deductions pushing her up the rankings and into third place for Switzerland (8.265), while Germany’s Alina Ross proved her power and skill with a risk filled programme which delighted the crowd and won her the silver medal (8.327). However, it was with nerves of steel that Kathrin Meyer entered the ring. She executed her robotic inspired routine nearly flawlessly winning the round and the gold medal for Germany, along with her mum Sonja and San Classico S (8.516).
The final medals of the day were for the squad competition. Sweden ended a 21 year wait for a squad medal, taking home the bronze in an incredible finish at their home games (7.651). It all came down to the wire between Switzerland and Germany with both squads filling their Free tests with artistry and flair. After a tense wait in the kiss and cry area, the gold medal went to Germany (8.261) with Switzerland finishing very close behind (8.173).
Now that the first medals have been presented the competition ramps up even more with the winners of the Junior squads and Junior and Young Vaulter individual World Championship being decided tomorrow. Once again it will all come down to the final round with the overall score weighted towards the final Free test and the pressure firmly on. It promises to be another day full of high emotions and captivating performances.
Photo caption: Kathrin Meyer (GER) competing in the Female Senior Free Test at the FEI Vaulting European Championship, Flyinge (SWE). Copyright ©FEI/Liz Gregg
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