Ermelo, the Netherlands – The U.S. Vaulting Team Squad’s fantastic Round 2 Freestyle Test propelled them to the bronze medal in the Junior Squad division of the FEI Vaulting World Championships for Juniors on July 24-27 in Ermelo, the Netherlands. The individual and pas de deux U.S. vaulters also had a successful outing.
The U.S. Vaulting Team, led by Chef d’Equipe Jennifer Arntsen, included the Rocky Mountain High Performance Team squad of Melanie Ford (Fort Collins, Colo.), Moira Hampton (Greeley, Colo.), Rhianon Hampton (Greeley, Colo.), Emma Milito (Brighton, Colo.), Danica Rinard (Fort Lupton, Colo.), Sydney Schimack (Laporte, Colo.), Augusta Rose Lewis (Longmont, Colo.), and Kylynn Ghafouri (Murrieta, Calif.). The Rocky Mountain High Performance Team squad is the first from Colorado to represent the U.S. in team competition, and they also placed third in the Saumur CVIJ2* in France in April.
The squad and longeur Christina Ender performed with Feel The Beat, RVV Equus e.V.’s 12-year-old Rheinlander gelding, in a circus-themed routine. After placing third in Round 1 of the competition, they turned in the second-best Round 2 Freestyle score of the day, an 8.383, to capture the bronze medal behind the German and Austrian squads.
“It was a huge deal for us to medal against all these powerhouse teams,” said Arntsen. “I think we showed the world last year [at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018] that the USA is starting to step up and be a force to be reckoned with. We brought that same energy and presence to Junior World Championships.
“This squad did their performance exactly how they’ve been practicing,” Arntsen continued. “No foot was out of place. Those girls had an amazing horse under them. The squad has been together for a very long time and they’ve grown up together, so those girls have an amazing bond and relationship. It’s fun to see them behind the scenes and see how comfortable they are together and how much they trust each other. The energy in the warm-up today was awesome; they all were so calm and collected, but still excited. It seemed like they were having fun and enjoying the whole experience.”
Jace Brooks (Eagle Mountain, Utah), represented the U.S. in the Individual Male division and placed eighth overall. In the Individual Female division, Schimack, Caroline Morse (Los Gatos, Calif.), Hayden Avakian (Costa Mesa, Calif.), and Hallie Dudley (Elizabeth, Colo.) competed for the U.S. Schimack and Morse advanced to Round 2, placing 10th and 14th, respectively.
Two pas de deux pairs competed for the U.S. Vaulting Team, with Marie Obeloer (Sunnyvale, Calif.) and Parker Daley (San Mateo, Calif.) placing ninth and Abigail Archibald (Mapleton, Utah) and Calle Davis (Spanish Fork, Utah) finishing 10th.
“I’m really proud of all of our vaulters,” said Arntsen. “They all get along so well in the arena and out of it. They felt very united as the U.S. Vaulting Team and supported each other so well. The individual vaulters and pas de deux pairs all got better as the competition went on and they got more comfortable. We have a lot of young athletes who were new to the world stage and they all stepped up and performed. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to work with.”
Arntsen described the U.S. team’s results at the FEI Vaulting World Championships for Juniors as a confidence boost for all those involved with the program. “Kids at home were watching this and seeing that we’re becoming more competitive and having more of a presence, and that is very important,” she said. “It was great to see this squad step up. They really brought it to the table all season. I want the other countries to see that we’re here to be competitive.”
The USEF International High Performance Programs are generously supported by the USET Foundation, USOPC, and USEF sponsors and members.
Photos by: © im|press|ions