Lexington, Ky. – The U.S. vaulting contingent competed in the 2019 FEI Vaulting World Cup™ Final this week to perform in the Pas de Deux and Individual Male divisions. From April 18-20, Chef d’Equipe Jennifer Arntsen led the talented group of Daniel Janes, Kristian Roberts, and Haley Smith as they put in strong performances across three rounds of intense competition at the École Nationale d’Équitation in Saumur, France.
FEI Vaulting World Cup Final – Pas de Deux
The relatively new partnership of Janes (Moss Beach, Calif.) and Smith (Woodside, Calif.) put in the performance of a lifetime on Saturday night, placing first in Competition 2 with a score of 8.349 and placing second overall with a final score of 8.237.
“It was really great in the ring tonight. We felt very confident in our performance, felt in harmony, and confident in the horse,” said Janes. “There was a moment in the middle of the routine where the choreography was happening and it felt so fluid and natural. It was the best feeling.”
Making their FEI Vaulting World Cup Final debut in Saumur, Janes and Smith proved themselves to be the pas de deux combination to watch. Along with Feel the Beat, RVV Equus e.V.’s 12-year-old Rheinländer gelding, and longeur Christina Ender (GER), the pair was praised for their intricate transitions and beautiful lines as they executed the complex movements.
“Feel the Beat has been a special surprise for us as we were not sure the exact horse to choose during the World Cup legs. But we found Feel the Beat, and it’s honestly been a match made in heaven,” said Smith.
Janes and Smith will now return home to California to compete alongside other members of their club and are looking forward to returning to Europe for the World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen in July.
FEI Vaulting World Cup Final – Individual Male
In his FEI Vaulting World Cup Final debut, Roberts (Moss Beach, Calif.) was the only American vaulter to compete in the individual division at this year’s Final. The spread of scores was tight as Roberts confidently performed his cursed sailor freestyle for the European judges with longeur Monika Winker-Bischofberger (SUI) and her 14-year-old Deutsches Sportpferd stallion, Keep Cool III. Roberts earned a score of 7.971 in Competition 1 and 7.763 in Competition 2 for a final score of 7.867 and a top-nine finish.
“It feels amazing to have made it all the way to the Final after years and years of going to world championships and having qualified for the World Cup Final in the past but never having come this far until now,” said Roberts. “I can’t wait to do it again. My last round of freestyle [was the most memorable]. It felt so smooth and I was able to really perform all the moves to the fullest.”
Roberts will stay in Europe for a few more weeks to try new horses and to compete in the FEI Vaulting World Cup Ermelo in The Netherlands before returning home to coach his junior-level clients.
“Competing in Europe is one of the more challenging things you encounter in your vaulting career,” said Roberts. “But once you get past the idea of [going to] the competition with a horse you’ve never competed on previously, you are meeting so many new friends from other countries. We all have so much in common through the sport and it’s an experience you almost can’t get anywhere else.”
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The USEF International High Performance Programs are generously supported by the USET Foundation, USOC, and USEF sponsors and members.
Photos by: Photos Les Garennes