Nations’ Cup victory goes to Germany II with Jedi power, cat charm and Alice in Wonderland

Team Germany II won the Nations’ Cup of…

Team Germany II won the Nations’ Cup of the Vaulters in the Prize of Sparkasse, the first “international” at the CHIO Aachen 2017. A victory after a clear declaration!

The national coach of the vaulters, Ulla Ramge and her colleague Kai Vorberg, were able to sit back and relax today. The German teams were their own mutual biggest rivals in the Nations’ Cup of the Prize of Sparkasse. In the end, Germany II asserted themselves against Germany I. Kristina Boe, who represented the winning team as an individual vaulter, hit the nail on the head: “This year the teams were very even, which is why we already declared that we were going to fight hard yesterday.”

A statement that seems to have given Boe and her colleagues from Team Germany II, Janika Derks and RSV Neuss-Grimlinghausen, a further boost. All of the athletes were able to further improve their performances of the previous day. Janika Derks danced through her routine nimbly and with precision, totally in line with her motto “The life of a cat”. And Kristina Boe alias Rey out of Star Wars? Yes, the power was with her, when she completed her extremely difficult programme without a mistake and in perfect harmony with the music.

And then came RSV Neuss-Grimlighausen with “Alice in Wonderland”. Yesterday, the young team from Neuss that has only been working together for a year, were beaten by their local rivals from Rhineland, Team NORKA from VV Köln-Dünnwald. Today, the team performed as if they had been unleashed, they risked everything and won everything. The score from the judges: 9.035. World-class. With a total score of 26.608 Germany II left their fellow competitors from their own country trailing behind. The judges really were spoilt for choice between excellent performances at the highest possible level of sport. The public voting sponsored by SAP demonstrated how difficult the jury’s task was. Sometimes the spectators, the majority of whom were experts, found the performances better, sometimes the judges.

Germany I also put in an absolutely convincing performance. Sarah Kay and Erik Oese, who represented Germany I as the individual vaulters, were able to outdo their performances of the day before. Team NORKA performed more spectacularly and athletically than ever before, but weren’t quite able to match yesterday’s score.  In the end, Germany II’s score on the display was 26.212, second place. “Yes, we are a little bit disappointed,” admitted Justin van Gerven, one of the four male vaulters of Team NORKA. “But at the end of the day, we still delivered a top performance and it was minor details that separated us.”

The words of the national coach, Ulla Ramge, may have consoled him: “All of them demonstrated that they have nerves of steel. The atmosphere here at the CHIO Aachen is incomparable to any other show in the world. Anyone who performs well here, performs well everywhere.” And everyone was good today! The same also applies for the Italian team that finished third. They were represented by the individual vaulters Francesco Bortoletto and Anna Cavallaro and by Team C.I.M. Italy. Their overall score was 25.531.

This brought the first CHIO Aachen weekend to a close and the Show Director, Frank Kemperman, can be more than satisfied with the result – great sport, a sold-out stadium on both Saturday and Sunday, 30,000 visitors on the open day on “Soers Sunday” and two sold-out Horse and Symphony concerts. That whets our appetite for more over the coming days!

“Fratelli d‘Italia” in the Pas de Deux

For the first time, the anthem “Unity and…

For the first time, the anthem “Unity and Justice and Freedom” didn’t ring out at the CHIO Aachen 2017. The victory in the Pas de Deux went to the favourites from Italy, the World Cup winners, Silvia Stopazzini and Lorenzo Lupacchini.

There was a fantastic atmosphere in the Albert-Vahle Hall when Silvia Stopazzini and Lorenzo Lupachhini began dancing on the back of Rosenstolz to Latino rhythms! “It was on the cards that the pair were going to put in a strong performance,” the national coach, Ulla Ramge, revealed, who wasn’t at all disappointed that her protégés didn’t win the Prize of Sparkasse in the Pas de Deux competition. “It is good for the sport!”

Indeed, together with their lunger, Laura Carnabuci, Silvia Stopazzini and Lorenzo Lupacchini put in a top performance: They were awarded 9.590 twice for their technical performance, a 9.290 for the artistic performance, which together with the score for the horse added up to an overall score of 8.933. The result meant the victory in this competition and also in the overall classification of the Prize of Sparkasse (8.757). Whereby the two acrobats weren’t even one hundred percent satisfied with their performance: “There were a few things we have to improve,” they admitted, for example the coordination to the very fast-paced music. They were nevertheless still delighted. Especially since they have only been together as a pair (in the sport) for a year, which means it was also their first joint victory at the CHIO Aachen.

Second and third place went to Germany. Whereby Torben Jacobs and Theresa-Sophie Bresch took it in turns with Jolina Ossenberg-Engels and Timo Gerdes. Jacobs and Bresch came second in round one with Holiday on Ice (Lunger: Alexandra Knauf) and third in the second freestyle. Ossenberg-Engels and Gerdes did it the other way round on Caram (Lunger: Claudia Döller-Ossenberg-Engels). In the end, Torben Jacobs and Theresa-Sophie Bresch achieved a slightly higher score with their “Bonnie and Clyde” freestyle routine. They collected 8.473 points, Ossenberg-Engels and Timo Gerdes finished on a score of 8.448. “Torben and Theresa competed with a reserve horse,” reported Ulla Ramge. “Timo and Jolina have a completely new horse and their performance is currently improving from competition to competition. So, we have every reason to be satisfied!”

The Austrian duo, Theresa Thiel and Stefan Csandl, came fourth with Crossino (Lunger: Karin Böhmer). In 2016, the pair enchanted the crowd with their Sissi freestyle choreography and claimed the victory. This year they placed their bets on animal jungle sounds, but weren’t able to repeat their previous year performances. The pair from the alpine country was awarded a score of 8.252.

Strength, athletic, Brüsewitz

The competitions in the men’s classification of the…

The competitions in the men’s classification of the Prize of Sparkasse at the CHIO Aachen 2017 turned into a purely German affair. In the end, Thomas Brüsewitz repeated his victory from the previous year – in spite of a small blunder in the freestyle.

After taking the victory in the concluding freestyle, Thomas Brüsewitz walked off with the Prize of Sparkasse 2017. After all three disciplines he finished on an overall score of 8.071. He danced to victory in the freestyle as if gravity doesn’t exist. There was however an unsteady moment when Brüsewitz didn’t land squarely on the back of his horse Bigstar after a risky high jump. But as the national coach, Ursula Ramge, stated: “Thomas is so mentally strong in the meantime that he can adapt to every situation.” And so, the 23-year-old completed his routine without making a further mistake.

“Thomas is a fantastic athlete,” is how the national coach praised her protégé. “He combines strength and agility, which can’t always be taken for granted among men.” Ramge added that furthermore, the vaulter, horse and lunger Irina Lenkeit have grown together more strongly and have become a really harmonious unit, a theme which is often forgotten when talking about vaulting. Incidentally, the motto of Brüswitz‘s freestyle was extremely unusual. He is a big Michael Jackson fan and he had chosen a piece of music that wasn’t released until after the King of Pop’s death – “Blue Gangsta” – hence it is fairly unknown.

Second place in the freestyle and in the overall classification went to Erik Oese on Calvador, lunged by Andreas Bäßler. After finishing fifth in the compulsory test, the tall vaulter, Oese, who will be celebrating his 30th birthday in September, came up trumps in the technical test. And his freestyle routine entitled “Ghost” was a feast for the eyes. Only very few people move as elegantly, nimbly and expressively as the high school teacher from Radebeul. When he adjusted his “ghost’s mask” in time with the cracking noises of the music, a shudder went down the spines of some of the spectators. Fortunately, it is just show! Oese was awarded a score of 8.501 for his freestyle. Added to his other results this made a final score of 7.999.

That sufficed to keep Viktor Brüsewitz with Don Filippo B and his lunger Lisa Borgmann at bay. Today the muscleman among the German vaulters “only” ranked fifth. But having come third in both the compulsory and technical tests, Viktor Brüsewitz – who is incidentally the elder brother of the winner – was able to defend his position. Albeit only just. Only two hundredths of a point lay between Brüsewitz and the Swiss vaulter, Lukas Heppler, on Cairo (Lunger: Petra Cinerova), who claimed fourth place in each of the three disciplines. Heppler finished on an overall score of 7.798, Brüsewitz on 7.800.

The fourth German contender in the competition, Jannik Heiland, the training partner of the Brüsewitz brothers, on Highlander (Lunger: Winnie Schlüter) had to make do with fifth place. Which is bitter because a fall at the end of his up until then fantastic technical test yesterday was especially bad luck. Heiland lay in second place after the compulsory test. But after the fall he dropped right back in the overall classification and wasn’t able to catch up the lost points in spite of coming third in the freestyle.

All in all, not only the athletes, but also the trainers had every reason to be extremely satisfied with the competition so far: “Our guys have set the bar high in all of the competitions,” is how Ursula summarised the situation from her point of view as the national coach. Tomorrow, the Nations’ Cup is on the agenda. One thing is already certain, Team NORKA from VV Köln-Dünnwald will be Team Germany I and Neuss-Grimlinghausen is Team Germany II. Which individual vaulters will be competing in which team will be announced tomorrow.

Janika Derks – no goal but a concrete plan

She didn’t start competing in the ladies competitions…

She didn’t start competing in the ladies competitions until 2016, and already winner of the Prize of Sparkasse at the CHIO Aachen in 2017: Vaulter Janika Derks.

Whereby the 27-year-old hadn’t actually set herself a goal. After the first of the two disciplines in the Prize of Sparkasse 2017, Janika Derks had stated modestly: “I am not aiming to achieve a certain placing. My goal is that I am satisfied with myself and I will be happy if the score reflects my performance.” One day later a dream came true: A victory in Aachen, the show that she and her colleagues look forward to the whole year.

“The crowd, organisation, atmosphere – everything is top here!” commented Derks. Which makes it all the more enjoyable when the sporting performance goes well: “Yes, my feeling and the judges’ score were in sync, I am happy.” Today, Derks presented “The life of a cat” – that is her freestyle motto – on Auxerre, lunged by Elisabeth Simon. She certainly did justice to the theme – lolling around on the horse’s back as if she never does anything else and she displayed cat-like skill in her acrobatic moves, landing gently and accurately as if it were child’s play. The freestyle was a feast for the eyes (8.227), even if it wasn’t the winning round.

Because on a score of 8.671 one of her fellow competitors topped her performance: Sarah Kay on Sir Valentin with Dina Menke as the lunger. The vaulter from Schleswig-Holstein had set her aims high today: “The first two competitions didn’t go as well as planned. So, I wanted to give everything today!” Kay is well-known for her nerves of steel. Where others give up, she can go that extra mile. She performed a super freestyle, perfectly in line with the theme “Smaug”, the dragon out of the cinema film “The Hobbit”. However, her victory in the freestyle didn’t enable her to move further up in the overall classification, ultimately Sarah Kay finished fifth.

Second place in the Prize of Sparkasse went to Derks‘ eternal rival this weekend: The Italian vaulter, Anna Cavallaro with Monaco Franze lunged by Nelson Vidoni. The World Cup winner mimed a wolf, but after wobbling slightly on landing after a jump, she was no longer a danger to the leading pair. Added together, fifth place in the freestyle, the third best compulsory test and the victory in the technical test resulted in a final score of 8.047.

The remaining German vaulters followed the Italian acrobat in the rankings. In addition to Sarah Kay in fifth place, last year’s winner Kristina Boe came third and the silver medallist of the 2015 European Championships, Corinna Knauf, finished fourth. Kristina Boe’s freestyle routine on Don de la Mar (Lunger: Winnie Schlüter) was full of difficult moves, such as for example a jump where she turned completely around her own axis. One of the judges placed Boe first in the technical score, the other judge put her in fourth place. Together with the artistic score and the score for the horse, this meant third place in the freestyle on a score of 8.629 and also third place in the overall classification. Corinna Knauf and her sister and trainer Alexandra Knauf gave each other a high five after the last dismount from their trusted partner, Fabiola. Well done! But in view of the tough competition in Aachen, Knauf had to make do with a score of 8.348 and sixth place. She ranked fourth in the individual classification.

Neuss? Cologne? Neuss. Nail-biting result in the Prize of Sparkasse

Neuss Grimlinghausen vs. Team NORKA from VV Köln-Dünnwald…

Neuss Grimlinghausen vs. Team NORKA from VV Köln-Dünnwald (Cologne) – the Prize of Sparkasse in the team vaulting turned into a duel that couldn’t have been more exciting. In the end, on a score of 8.298 the group from Neuss asserted themselves against the team from Cologne (8.216).  Neuss won the compulsory test, Cologne the freestyle. However, the scores in the second round were much closer – 8.653 and 8.675. As in the previous year, third place went to the Italian group, C.I.M. Italy with Hot Date Tek, lunged by Laura Carnabuci, who finished on an overall score of 7.713.

Germany’s national coach, Ursula Ramge, already had reason to celebrate at lunchtime today with two such groups: “The freestyle routines of both teams were fantastic!” she said delighted. The group from Neuss performed their freestyle to the theme “Alice in Wonderland”. Team NORKA relied on futuristic design. Both teams risked everything, to the extent that the crowd had to hold its breath on several occasions when some of the lifts were performed!

Whereas in the case of Neuss-Grimlinghausen, the team comprising of Madita Schramm, Sophie Hofmann, Lara Schmitt, Mona Pavetic, Leon Huesgen and Pauline Riedl, included several Championship debutants, almost all of the athletes that competed for Cologne have won individual or pas de deux medals: Thomas Brüsewitz, Torben Jacobs, Corinna Knauf, Jana Zelesny, Miro Rengel and Justin van Gerven. Team Neuss had a completely new line-up this year, but relied on Delia FRH, an experienced horse that was lunged by Elisabeth Simon. In the case of Team NORKA it was the other way round – an established team, but a new horse: Picardo.

In the light of this both team leaders were extremely satisfied. Elisabeth Simon from Team Neuss explained regarding her new team: “The compulsory test was super, we couldn’t have hoped for a better result at the moment. And if one wins the CHIO Aachen, one can’t be anything but delighted!” Patric Looser, former World Champion in the men’s classification, emphasised: “We are very happy! We had only trained one single time with Picardo. So taking this minimal preparation into account, we can be very proud of our performance!“ Picardo wasn’t the only horse that was really electric today.

No wonder! The stands were crammed full down to the very last seat and the atmosphere was fantastic. Many of the spectators are more or less regular visitors on the CHIO vaulting weekend. If one asks them what attracts them in coming to Aachen every year for in some cases the past six or seven years, they promptly reply: “The CHIO is an absolute must-attend event if you love horses!“ And especially when one gets to experience such terrific sport, like in the first competition of the Prize of Sparkasse.

The German vaulters get off to a strong start in the Prize of Sparkasse

From the German athletes’ point of view, the…

From the German athletes’ point of view, the opening day at the CHIO Aachen 2017 couldn’t have run more smoothly. Since 2007, the vaulters have opened the World Equestrian Festival in the Albert-Vahle Halle on the first weekend of the show.

Today, two of the three tests in the Prize of Sparkasse were on the agenda, the compulsory and technical tests. The black, red and gold flag was flying over the winner’s rostrum in the ladies, men’s and team classifications. This was no surprise for the national coach, Ursula Ramge: “We travelled to the CHIO in the knowledge that we had a very strong line-up, she explained. The last tickets for the imminent European Championships at the beginning of August in Austria are up for grabs in Aachen for the vaulters. So it is no surprise that Janika Derks, who is heading the field in the ladies classification after the compulsory and technical tests, said: “Our preparations for Aachen regarding the training are even more focused than usual. The aim is to deliver the best performance possible.”

Derks, for whom it is just the second season competing in the ladies classification, definitely did just that. After a convincing victory in the compulsory test and third place in the technical test with Auxerre, lunged by Elisabeth Simon, she has a slight lead in the overall standing with a score of 8.014 points.

The current World Cup winner, the Italian vaulter Anna Cavallaro with Monaco Franze lunged by Nelson Vidoni, achieved exactly the same placings, but the other way round and is now lying second with a score of 7.851. She came third in the compulsory test and won the technical test. Her score didn’t quite suffice to overtake Derks, but did enable her to keep the three other German ladies at bay.

Corinna Knauf with Fabiola (Lunge: Alexandra Knauf) is close at Cavallaro’s heels. The 24-year-old, who celebrated the biggest achievement in her career two years ago here in Aachen when she claimed silver at the European Championships, scored 7.834.

Last year’s winner Kristina Boe made an annoying and extremely costly mistake with the trusted Don de la Mar (Lunge: Winnie Schlüter), because she exceeded the allowed time for her technical competition and now ranks fourth (7.736). Sarah Kay and Sir Valentin (Lunge: Dina Menke) is currently in fifth place (7.497).

In the men’s competition, last year’s winner, Thomas Brüsewitz, took the lead with Bigstar with Irina Lenkeit on the lunge (7.837). He won the compulsory test by a clear margin and also animated the spectators to enthusiastic applause in the technical competition.

Erik Oese currently lies second on a score of 7.748. After “only” coming fifth in the compulsory test with Calvador and Andreas Bäßler on the lunge, he set himself the task of catching up in the technical test and actually went on to win the class.

The leader’s brother, Viktor Brüsewitz, is currently lying third on a score of 7.618 points after coming third twice with Don Filippo (Lunge: Lisa Borgmann).

Jannik Heiland with Highlander (Lunge: Winnie Schlüter), who was in second place after the compulsory, had bad luck in the technical test, which began very well, but unfortunately she fell at the end. With an interim score of 7.375 this put him back into fifth place, behind the Swiss vaulter, Lukas Heppler with Cairo (Lunge: Petra Cinerova, 7.507).

The Germans are also calling the shots in the team competition too – by a long way! The group from RSV Neuss-Grimlinghausen with Delia and Elisabeth Simon on the lunge put in an outstanding performance. With an interim score of 7.929, the team from Neuss asserted itself against their eternal rivals from the vaulting club Köln-Dünnwald with Picardo, lunged by Patric Looser (7.756). Incidentally, the squad from Cologne has already qualified for the European Championships 2017. The Italian team currently rank third with the team C.I.M. Italy with Hot Date Tek (Lunge: Laura Carnabuci, score: 7.084).