Fabulous Finals for Canadian Vaulters at WEG
Photo: Angelique and Jeanine van der Sluijs.
Equine Canada Communications - The Canadian Vaulting Team will be making a proud return home after finishing out the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 on a high note on September 5 in Normandy, FRA.
The final day of Vaulting kicked off with round two of the FEI World Pas-de-Deux Vaulting Championship at the Zenith venue in Caen, FRA. Canada had two entries return after solid performances in round one on September 4.
Todd Griffiths of Cardston, AB, and Brooke Boyd of Olds, AB were Canada's highest placed Pas-de-Deux pair. A relatively new team, they decided to join up as a Pas-de-Deux pair less than a year ago. Together, they brought down the house with a repeat performance of their high-energy choreography set to swing music.
The duo scored 7.676, bringing their two-round total to 7.674 for eighth place overall.
Griffiths and Boyd were delighted with their result, especially since this was a brand new freestyle for them. Just a few months before the Games, they decided to switch up everything from their music to their choreography to their costumes. Round one of the Pas-de-Deux marked the first time they ever performed the new freestyle at a competition.
"Yesterday was great, but today was even better. Everywhere that had some little tiny sticky spots yesterday felt fantastic today," explained Griffiths, who was attending his third Games overall, but his first for Canada, having represented the United States twice before obtaining Canadian citizenship in 2014. "We were able to show the full freestyle with all of the excitement and fun that it is. So, I was really pleased with that. Ecstatic, actually, is really the better word at this moment."
Boyd, who was attending her inaugural Games in Normandy added, "It just felt more connected today, and more enthusiastic. It was really exciting."
Finishing the Pas-de-Deux in 10th place overall were two-time VaultCanada National Pas-de-Deux Champions, Angelique and Jeanine van der Sluijs of Olds, AB.
Together, the sisters finished the two-round Pas-de-Deux championships on a total score of 6.904 for their rain-themed performance set to piano music.
"We didn't feel quite as sharp as yesterday. We had a few little wobbles and a few moments where we could have pulled it together a little bit more," said Jeanine, who qualified and competed in an impressive total of three events during this year's Games: Individual Female, Squad, and Pas-de-Deux. "In the end, we got grounded again, and I think we had some really nice moments. But, it's just been great to be here. We got to compete together as sisters, and that was our goal."
Later in the eventing, the six-member Canadian Vaulting Team entered the arena one last time for an encore of their stunning freestyle in the FEI World Squad Vaulting Championship. Joining Griffiths, Jeanine, and Angelique were Haigen Pavan and Shianne Hofer from Olds, AB, as well as the team 'flier' for many of the lift components, Dallyn Shields of Didsbury, AB.
The first full team to ever represent Canada at the Games, the six vaulters were invited forward into the Freestyle Final after finishing 10th place in the round one Freestyle on September 3.
Once again bringing their portrayal of Disney's Sleeping Beauty to life for the full house of spectators, the Canadian Squad earned a score of 7.728 to keep their 10th place finish against the world's best squads on a total two-round score of 7.256.
"It was just an incredible experience to be part of the first team to represent Canada," said Pavan, who was playing the part of the crow, with Griffiths portraying the prince, Jeanine and Hofer becoming fairies, Shields bringing Aurora to life, and Angelique turning into a stunning Maleficent.
Pavan was also grateful to Becca Hewit of Great Britain, not only for stepping up to the plate as Team Canada's Lunger, but also for leasing the team her eight-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, Bankey Moon, for the Games. "It was awesome having a horse that we trust and a Lunger who let us use her horse, even though we are such a young team. Becca really gave us the stepping stone to actually represent our country, and we wouldn't have been here without her."
Jeanine was very proud of the Team's performance, and excited for the future of Canada's Vaulters on the world stage.
"I think we exceeded a lot of expectations people might have had for us as a brand new team. So, I think the most exciting part of making it into the finals was showing that when the Games are hosted on our home ground in four years, we are going to be ready for it," commented Jeanine in light of the recent announcement that Bromont, QC has been officially awarded the next FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018.
Chef d'Equipe, Rebecca Marland believes that whoever competes for the Canadian Vaulting Team at the next Games will have very big shoes to fill after Canada's inaugural Squad performance.
"This was the best Games experience that we've ever had in terms of how well the Canadians have done. I'm really proud that they've done so well. We are just flying high and have set a really high bar for the Canadian team. So, a pat on the back should go out to everyone, and it is onwards and upwards from here."
Taking the Gold Medal in the Squad competition was Germany. Switzerland brought home Silver, while France earned Bronze. In the Pas-de-Deux, Jasmin Lindner and Lukas Wacha of Austria won Gold, followed by Germany's Pia Engelberty and Torben Jacobs in the Silver Medal position, and Joanne and Hannah Eccles earning Bronze.