No amount of rain could dampen the spirits as the third day of FEI Vaulting competition began at the Flyinge kungsgard.
As expected, there were huge changes in the Junior Female standings after the Free test. Josephine Vedel Sondergaard Nielson was one of the only competitors to hold her position, and she remains in second place for Denmark (7.999). Italian Giorgia Varisco climbed up the rankings to third with a strong performance, but it was Oceane Gehan from France who took command of the arena, executing exceptionally difficult moves with ease earning the lead on 8.074.
An increase in the atmosphere within the hall in the male Free test was noticeable as some of the horses were more tense than during the compulsory round, causing a few of the competitors to have to think on their feet and make smart decisions within their freestyle. Germany’s Ben Lechtenberg proved that this strategy pays, after he slightly altered the difficulty of his routine to focus on the performance. While it didn’t earn him the top freestyle score, it kept him in medal contention in third place after round one (7.796). His young teammate Lukas Heitmann thrilled the audience with his personality and the difficulty of his performance, which launched him into silver medal position going into the final (7.869). Dutchman Sam dos Santos won the Free test which put him even further into the lead (8.260), even though he found his horse struggling and coming in on the circle.
In the Junior squad competition the Austrian team performed a high level, detail-oriented freestyle clawing back some of the points they missed out on in the compulsory test. They scored the second-best free test of the day and have risen into third place in the overall standings (7.242). Switzerland only just held onto their second place as they struggled to stay in harmony with their horse Lagrima (7.366). For team Germany a gold medal is almost guaranteed. Their fluent and artistic test, with quality vaulting from the young squad members resulting in a score of 8.903, has given them a 0.7 lead over the rest of the class (8.075). The team from Sweden sit in fourth place overall, however they are unlikely to be able to catch any of the top three squads.
The day climaxed with the Young Vaulter Female Technical test. All eyes were glued to the circle as Alice Layher (GER) effortlessly performed her exercises overshadowing the previous performers and scoring 8.481 with a class topping 8.364 final round one score. Not to be outdone, Averill Saunders had the audience on the edge of their seats as she neared perfection in her exercises and won the Technical round (8.747). She moves into silver medal position on 8.190 with Austrian Anna Weidenauer dropping to third place overall (7.948).
There are as yet few clear winners. However, tomorrow will see the first of the medals presented to the Senior athletes following what will be a nail-biting final Free test for both the individuals and squads.
Photo caption: The FEI Vaulting World Championships for Young Vaulters and Juniors delivered thrillingly close competition on Thursday. Copyright: ©FEI/Liz Gregg
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