Ecstasy in the Prize of the Sparkasse
The vaulters from Cologne don’t stop winning, Kathrin Meyer is experiencing a streak of good luck and Quentin Jabet came, saw and conquered – that is the summary of the Saturday in the Prize of the Sparkasse in the vaulting circle of the CHIO Aachen 2023.
In 2022, Team Norka from VV Köln-Dünnwald was victorious in the Prize of the Sparkasse at the CHIO Aachen with Calidor. The same was true in 2023. Albeit with a different line-up for both the vaulters and the lunger. Ines Nawroth was at the end of the lunge line for the first time instead of Patric Looser. She is already used to the feeling of standing in the middle of the circle in Aachen, but until now she had always lunged athletes from abroad. She was thus all the more delighted after today’s triumph with “her” team: “To run in here as the last group for Germany, is something quite different!” Especially when one puts in such a performance and is rewarded with the applause of Aachen’s crowd. The vaulters from Cologne were in a class of their own, both yesterday during the compulsory test as well as today in the freestyle. They achieved an overall score of 8.397. That meant they had a comfortable lead over the second German team, VV Ingelsberg with Fider Rock, who was lunged by Alexander Hartl. Their overall score was 7.983. Third place went to the Swiss bronze medal winners of last year’s World Championships with Acardi van de Kapel, lunged by Monika Winkler (7.888).
There was a special award for today’s winning horse, Calidor. The readers of the trade magazine, Reiter Revue, had voted the 14-year-old Holstein horse by Calido as “Horse of the Year”. He was presented with the distinction in the company of all the successful athletes who have vaulted to medals and cups on his back over the course of the years.
Kathrin’s childhood dream
Decision in the Ladies classification of the Prize of the Sparkasse 2023, three German vaulters in the lead in the interim results, two already with a German Championship title in their pockets, one of them the current World Cup winner. The latter, Kathrin Meyer, headed the field after the compulsory and technical tests, Alina Roß, the German Champion of 2021 followed in second place.
The German Champions of 2022, Julia Sophie Wagner and Giovanni, lunged by Katja Wagner, was the first to go of the three leaders. She put in a solid performance that was rewarded with the fourth best freestyle score of 8.363. Her final score was thus 8.229.
Then, it was Alina Roß’s turn with Baron R, lunged by her father Volker. She got off to a good start. Her freestyle routine contains a lot of difficult moves that she vaulted through skilfully and elegantly. Then, all of a sudden she lost her grip and had to leave the horse’s back in the middle of her routine. A huge error even if the rest of the choreography went smoothly. And because everything else went perfectly, she was still awarded a score of 8.193 in the freestyle.
The next to go was Kathrin Meyer, with her first title in Aachen almost in reach. And she certainly came up trumps! She received a score of 8.816 for her freestyle. Together with the score for the compulsory and the technical that made an overall score of 8.584. That easily put her into the lead ahead of Julia Sophie Wagner with Giovanni and the unlucky Alina Roß, whose final score was 8.174.
As she realised that she had won, Kathrin Meyer ran out of the competition arena and into the warm-up hall, awaited eagerly by her former team members from the time when she vaulted in the group. They hugged each other, with tears in their eyes. “My World Cup victory and now Aachen, you can’t compare that to anything else,” she said later. “I never even thought about the World Cup before. But Aachen – that is simply a childhood dream!” She was correspondingly overjoyed. Even though she had already won here twice in the past with the group. But today’s victory was hers alone. And of course her mother Sonja’s and that of San Classico S. The three of them are a well-versed trio. “We have had him for ten years,” explained Kathrin. “Mum and I schooled him together with the help of Kai and Nina Vorberg. Even if he perhaps looks difficult for outsiders, I know I can depend on him. I know how he reacts in every situation, because we have known each other for so long.” “When she says schooled she doesn’t just mean as a vaulting horse, incidentally. San Classico does piaffe and passage and has achieved good placings at medium level dressage, Kathrin’s mother, Sonja, reported. She is a dressage rider. When she sent her daughter to vaulting lessons at the age of four, it was intended to be an introduction to riding. However, she hadn’t reckoned on Kathrin choosing vaulting as her preferred sport. Today she is glad about it: “Otherwise we wouldn’t experience days like this!”
Race to catch up à la francaise
The outcome of the Men’s classification in the Prize of the Sparkasse – Quentin Jabet came (from France), saw (“This is like a World Championships here!”) and conquered (“It is incredible!”). Although the Vice World Champion of 2022 only came ninth in the first competition, the compulsory test. “It didn’t start off very well…,” the 22-year-old admitted. That all turned around fast though. He scored the highest mark already in the technical test, which meant he had already worked his way up into second place in the interim result. So, by all accounts the freestyle was going to be exciting. And it was. Quentin put in a fantastic performance with his Ronaldo, lunged by Andrea Boe. With an incredible lightness, in perfect synchronisation with the music, he vaulted through his routine from start to finish flawlessly. The motto of his choreography? “Mmh, actually I haven’t got a proper one. It is a sort of dance and people are to make their own interpretation of it.” Simply true art that was rewarded with a score of 8.914. That brought his total score to 8.621.
Whether that would suffice for the victory? Thomas Brüsewitz, four-time winner of the Prize of the Sparkasse and the current leader was the next to go. The 29-year-old’s freestyle routine ran smoothly until just before the end. Then, he slipped from the croup of Formel 1 D.C. while trying to push himself away. An expensive mistake. After finishing tenth in the freestyle, he slid down into fourth place in the overall classification.
That allowed two other vaulters to move up in the rankings, on the one hand the Dutch vaulter, Sam Dos Santos with Chameur, lunged by Rian Pierik. It was clear from the start that the 17-year-old had good chances. He came fifth at the World Championships in 2022 and second in the World Cup Finals in 2023. However, here in Aachen he “only” ranked fifth in the field of 15 participants after the compulsory and technical tests. However, thanks to coming third in the freestyle after a very good performance, he ultimately finished second in the overall classification with a total score of 8.466.
The other vaulter who catapulted himself under the top three with a super freestyle test was the 33-year-old Viktor Brüsewitz, Thomas Brüsewitz‘s elder brother. It is his final performance here in Aachen. He had choreographed his routine accordingly with an own-recorded text to music, explaining what the sport had given him over the years and expressing his gratitude for everything it had enabled him to achieve. The freestyle routine was not only emotional, it was really good too! Only 0.003 points separated him from the winner’s freestyle score. This enabled him to work his way up into third place in the overall classification of the Prize of the Sparkasse. In the run-up to the show he had stated that he would like to demonstrate his skills onelast time in Aachen, but that he wasn’t sure if he would succeed. Well, he certainly did!
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