Vaulting: Prize of Sparkasse - Freestyle

Fredenbeck I, Janina Derks and Johannes Kay in the Pas de Deux and Thomas Brüsewitz win the prize of the Sparkasse.

Fredenbeck I takes the group victory for the second time in the Sparkasse Prize


As was the case last year, the battle for the victory in the Sparkasse Prize took place between Fredenbeck I and Team Norka from VV Köln-Dünnwald. Once again, the vaulting team from Lower Saxony outstripped their fellow competitors from Rhineland.


Second participation, second victory – the Fredenbeck I group looks back on a 100 percent success rate at the CHIO Aachen. In 2018 their triumph came as a surprise. This year they were already considered to be one of the favourites. Indeed, they were even able to go one better compared to last year.

Viktor Brüsewitz, Kevin Greiner, Mirja Krohne, Mila Koböck, Kathrin Meyer and Malte Möller already went into the lead after the compulsory test. Today, they performed their new freestyle routine on Claus lunged by Gesa Bührig. Their choreography is an interpretation of the painting “The Scream” by Edvard Munch. The whole drama of this expressionist piece of work was highlighted by the performance of the team from Fredenbeck. The German national coach, Ulla Ramge, confirmed: “Their freestyle is once again an artistic piece of work in its entirety that simply captivates everyone. And compared to last year their interpretation has gained even more expression and intensity. Fredenbeck really is world class!” The judges were of the same opinion and awarded the freestyle performance an overall score of 8.986. Added to the result from the compulsory test, this yielded a final score of 8.394 and thus the clear victory for the vaulters from Lower Saxony.


Their biggest rivals, Team Norka from VV Köln-Dünnwald, came second with a final score of 8.084. The team comprising of Thomas Brüsewitz, Chiara Congia, Justin van Gerven, Gianna Ronca, Jana Zelesny and Rebecca Verlage was led by the former World Champion, Patric Looser on the lunge. Their horse, the ten-year-old Holstein-bred Calidor, only started competing at international level this year and he seemed to be rather unnerved by the impressive setting in the Albert-Vahle Arena, which was full down to the very last seat. Nevertheless, he didn’t misbehave at all and his team presented a fantastic freestyle routine! Leaps, lifts, everything went like clockwork. The judges awarded a score of 8.442 for the performance – good to very good. Unfortunately, that didn’t suffice today to triumph over Fredenbeck.


UVT Eligius from Austria, with Laokado, lunged by Cornelia Trimmel, finished in third place and the level of their freestyle was very high as well. Their performance was entitled “Futuristic Electronic Music”. They presented a perfectly coordinated choreography containing many difficult elements. In the compulsory test, they had to make do with fourth place behind the team from Sweden. Notching up a score of 8.086 for the freestyle meant they moved up a place in front of the Swedish group to take the bronze medal on a final score of 7.569.


The winning team did suffer a misfortune in spite of their victory, since the group member Mila Koböck injured her foot on dismounting. She landed rather unfortunately and had to join the ranks of the spectators for the rest of the freestyle routine. It is doubtful whether the group from Fredenbeck will compete in the Nations Cup tomorrow or not. They could actually take part with just five members, but that would mean they would have a point deducted from the very start.



Thomas Brüsewitz floats to his fourth victory in the Sparkasse Prize


Thomas Brüsewitz did it again! He secured the title in the men’s competition of the Sparkasse Prize at the CHIO Aachen for the fourth time in a row. Something which he has a plausible explanation for.


Why does Thomas Brüsewitz always come up trumps at the CHIO in Aachen? “Well, because it is simply fantastic at the Soers!” There’s nothing to add to that. The young of the two Brüsewitz brothers asserted himself against his fellow competitors from Germany after obtaining a final score of 8.680. Julian Wilfling finished second with a score of 8.543, followed by Jannik Heiland, who scored 8.511 in total.


One rather got the impression that the laws of gravity didn’t apply for Thomas Brüsewitz. He seemed to complete the most difficult movements without any effort. After his dismount, a thunderous applause broke out. The judges were obviously equally impressed and awarded the German vaulter a score of 9.238 for his freestyle routine. So, it was a start-finish-victory for Thomas Brüsewitz, after he had already won the compulsory and technical tests. However, it wasn’t matter of course that he repeated his previous year victory since Brüsewitz and his horse Eyecatcher lunged by Alexandra Knauf have not been a team for long. To be precise, Aachen is their first joint show. Perhaps that is the reason why Brüsewitz was slightly behind the music with his movements, as he critically noted himself. “But I didn’t let myself get stressed by it. Somehow I was concentrating so much that I simply ignored it.” The tactic obviously worked.


Julian Wilfling was delighted at coming second. The 23-year-old already competed at the CHIO Aachen in 2014. “But it was my first year vaulting for the Seniors at the time. I couldn’t keep up pace back then. I have matured in the meantime,” he commented. Wilfling has his own unique style – very elegant and supple. One got the impression that he makes it easy for his four-legged partner, Feliciano lunged by Lars Hansen, when he mounts and dismounts like a feather. This demonstrates a high degree of body control, which the judges rewarded with a freestyle score of 9.160. That was only the third best result in this discipline. But because Wilfling put in equally good performance in both the compulsory and technical tests, it sufficed in order to relegate Jannik Heiland down to third place in the overall classification.


Heiland performed the second best freestyle with Dark Beluga, lunged by Barbara Rosiny. His motto: The genie in the bottle. He was awarded a score of 9.244. However, after only come fifth in the technical test that didn’t run smoothly for him allowed Wilfling to overtake him.


He was followed by the crowd’s favourite, Viktor Brüsewitz with Sky Walker lunged by Gesa Bührig. The spectators awarded the 29-year-old brother of the winner the highest freestyle score via the Spectator Judging app: Namely 9.305. The judges score was much lower: 8.999, ultimately fourth place in the overall ranking. A small consolation for him: At least he has already defeated his brother as a “Ninja Warrior” on RTL…


A further German vaulter followed in fifth place on a score of 8.474: Jannis Drewell alias Eddy the Eagle on Qualimero, who was lunged by Jannis’ mother, Simone Drewell.


As such, the second day at the CHIO Aachen 2019 was a total success from a German point of view. Three titles were up for grabs in the Sparkasse Prize and all three went to Germany.



Victory for the “Million Dollar Baby” in the Sparkasse Prize


The German national anthem was already played for Janika Derks once in the ladies classification of the Sparkasse Prize in 2017. This year she won gold again. A very important day for her!


The ladies competition at the CHIO Aachen 2019 was a total success for Janika Derks across the board. She triumphed in all three disciplines of the competition with her trusted partner, Carousso Hit, and ultimately won on a final score of 8.533, ahead of her fellow club member, Pauline Riedl (8.355) and the Danish vaulter, Sheena Bendixen (8.237).


Janika Derks excelled in her freestyle routine with her incredible strength and athleticism. Ultimately, the judges rewarded her performance with a score of 9.233. Aachen was the first show for Derks after her World Cup victory in Saumur earlier this spring. “She has improved her mental strength,” her trainer and lunger, Jessica Lichtenberg, praised. She explained that when Janika started competing as an individual vaulter in 2016, she sometimes stood in her own way. But that is not the case any longer, as she impressively demonstrated today. Her own story matches her freestyle motto nicely: Million Dollar Baby. The film about the female boxer, who was determined to become a professional fighter against all the odds and who pursued her aim with dogged perseverance, reflects Janika’s personality, her trainer noted. “She has a lot of fight in her, without being overzealous.” Along these lines, Janika Derks was indeed happy with her almost immaculate freestyle routine, but: “The dismount wasn’t smooth enough.” Note: Better is the enemy of good…


Pauline Riedl, a further vaulter from the Neuss-based talent factory of Jessica Lichtenberg, came second. It was the 25-year-olds first individual appearance at the CHIO Aachen, but she has been at home at the Soers since she was a child. She already competed here during the World Equestrian Games in 2006, at the time as the “top man”, as the lightest athletes, who almost float under the ceiling of the arena during the lifts in the group competitions, are called. After several injuries she has now discovered her role as an individual vaulter – something that she also has her four-legged partner, Flamant, to thank for, stressed Jessica Lichtenberg: “The two of them have gelled together well! That is his first year and he acts like he has never done anything else!” As a result, Pauline Riedl performed a wonderfully harmonious freestyle routine today, in perfect unity with the horse and the music.


“I’m a survivor” was the motto of the Danish vaulter, Sheena Bendixen’s freestyle routine on Klintholms Ramstein, lunged by Lasse Kristensen. Bendixen is petite, but she is a real model athlete. This was reflected by her freestyle choreography too – daringly high leaps, strength and elegance. The judges awarded her the second highest freestyle score: 9.107. But sixth place in the compulsory test and fourth in the technical test, meant it didn’t suffice to overtake Pauline Riedl.


The level of the ladies classification of the Sparkasse Prize was extremely high. Not only the top three achieved an overall score over 8.0, the two vaulters in fourth and fifth place also had an 8 before the point. They both come from Germany: Alina Roß with San Zero (Lunger: Marion Schulze, 8.159) and Corinna Knauf with Fabiola (L.: Alexandra Knauf, 8.102). Hannah Steverding, also from Germany, came sixth on Royal Flash (L.: Sophie Kuhn), with an overall score 7.894.



Pas de deux with surprise moments in the Sparkasse Prize


Six pairs are battling it out in the Pas de Deux competition of the Sparkasse Prize. Two freestyle tests decide between victory and defeat. The former went to Janika Derks and Johannes Kay. However, the pair that took second place was a surprise result.


Yes, indeed, they are a bit like an old married couple, confirmed Johannes Kay with a grin. The 24-year-old physiotherapist and his pas de deux partner Janika Derks, who is also currently lying in first place in the ladies individual classification, have already known each other for a long time, because both used to be members of the highly successful vaulting group, RSV Neuss-Grimlinghausen. They have been performing as a pair since 2016 and came fourth here in Aachen last year. Now it looks like they could actually reach for the stars this year.

With an overall result of 8.612, they claimed the victory in the first of two freestyle tests in the Sparkasse Prize at the CHIO Aachen. Whereby Johannes Kay made no secret of the fact that there was definitely room for improvement. Their horse, Diamond Sky lunged by vaulting champion Jessica Lichtenberg, is only competing at its fourth international show here in Aachen. “He did a really good job considering. We are satisfied, but it wasn’t quite that easy. It was hard work and that was noticeable too.” So the goal for tomorrow is: Add a little more lightness!


Diana Harwardt? Peter Künne? These are not established names in the vaulting circle of the Albert-Vahle Arena. Indeed, it is the first season that the two 18-year-olds are competing in the seniors classification and also their CHIO Aachen debut. Nevertheless, both are already well-known within the inner circle of the vaulting scene, they namely already claimed silver at the European Championships of the Juniors in 2018. Their four-legged partner is still the same, namely Sir Laulau, lunged by Hendrik Falk. The pair emphasised that Sir Laulau plays a major role in their success: “He may not have the most spectacular canter, but we can rely on him 100 percent!” And that is important when one performs risky acrobatic exercises in the air on the back of a cantering horse! The quartet comprising of the two vaulters, horse and lunger emanated harmony, elegance and lightness today from the first to the very last second and was rewarded by the judges with an overall score of 8.283.

This meant that they left Chiara Congia and Justin van Gerven on Picardo, lunged by Alexandra Knauf, behind them. The pair, who were the first to go, finished on a score of 8.254 to make the ranking perfect from a German point of view: namely the top three places all went to Germany.

Photo: Fotostudio Strauch

Photo: Fotostudio Strauch