Anna Cavallaro (ITA) and Lukas Klouda (CZE) are the first winners of the FEI World Cup Vaulting new season.
Cavallaro, 26, and Klouda, 28, received the highest scores after two quality Freestyle-to-Music rounds at the series opening leg held in Munich (GER) last weekend. Italy secured a one-two finish in the women’s competition as Silvia Stopazzini took second place on a final score of 8.602 behind Cavallaro (8.797).
In the first round Anna Cavallaro, performing on the 15-year-old Harley lunged by Nelson Vidoni, executed a high-level gymnastic routine which put her in second place. Her training partner and fellow Italian Silvia Stopazzini, also competing on Harley, took an early lead scoring 0,041 points higher than Cavallaro.
In the second round the Italian ladies were outstanding once again. Cavallaro excelled in her new complex choreography performed to opera music sung by Luciano Pavarotti. Her performance earned her 8,797 points and put her in the lead of the World Cup standings with 14 points. Stopazzini made a mistake just before the end of her routine which cost her valuable points putting her in second place.
Nevertheless the 19-year-old former European Junior champion got over her mistake quickly and said, “I’m so happy to be part of the FEI World Cup Vaulting. I didn’t expect such a good result in this competitive field.” Stopazzini, who was 15th on the FE World Vaulting Rankings, qualified for the World Cup because several of the female vaulters who were in front of her on the ranking list were not able to participate in this season’s series.
Simone Jäiser (SUI), the highest placed female vaulter on the FEI Rankings to participate in the World Cup, performing on Luk lunged by her mother Rita Blieske, took third place with 7,996 points.
Germany’s Regina Burgmayr and Susanne Schmidt, who were the local heroes as their home club Ingelsberg is based near Munich, and world bronze medallist Sarah Kay also representing the host nation, placed fourth, fifth, and sixth respectively.
Last year’s FEI World Cup Vaulting champion Joanne Eccles (GBR), who was following the event online, commented, “It was a high-level competition. I would have loved to be part of it but there’s always next year.”
Lukas Klouda representing the Czech Republic was the strongest in the male category. The 28-year-old, who is based in Cologne, won the first round on Radix SB lunged by Maria Imhäuser collecting 8,598 points. After a disappointing performance in the FEI World Vaulting Championships in Le Mans (FRA) in August where he placed seventh, he was happy to be back at the top. “I’m looking forward for the next qualifiers,” he said. He was complimented on his significant improvement by Nadia Ehning, the most successful vaulter of all times, who was watching the competition live.
In the next round Klouda was second only to the 23-year-old German Viktor Brüsewitz on Lazio lunged by Alexander Hartl. Brüsewitz was the best in the final but despite his result of 8,693 points, he could not overtake Klouda. “In the first round I was not able to show my best,” the German vaulter said. “But today it was fun to perform. I had great confidence in my horse,” he added.
The third place went to Torben Jacobs from Cologne who performed on the same horse as the winner. He finished on 8,254 and secured eight World Cup points.
The night before the Final in Munich, second-placed Brüsewitz had wanted to challenge Klouda, who had beaten him in the inaugural FEI World Cup Vaulting Final in Bordeaux (FRA) in February, in an arm wrestling contest. Klouda had however preferred to save his strength for Vaulting which turned out to be the right decision.
The next chance for the two opponents to measure their merit will be in the second FEI World Cup Vaulting qualifier which takes place in Salzburg (AUT) in December. The series’ third leg will be held in Paris (FRA) at the same time where reigning male world champion Nicolas Andreani will make his FEI World Cup Vaulting season debut on home ground.