Normandy, FRA, September 4, 2014 – Canadian Vaulters were definite crowd pleasers during the FEI World Pas-de-Deux Championship, held during a high energy evening time slot on September 4 at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy, FRA.
Canada qualified two Pas-de-Deux vaulting teams for the Games. First to enter the ring at the Zenith venue in Caen, FRA were partners, Todd Griffiths of Cardston, AB and Brooke Boyd from Olds, AB, along with Lunger, Becca Hewit of Great Britain, and her eight-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, Bankey Moon.
They dazzled the crowd with an energetic performance set to swing music, choreographed by Kalyn Geisler of the United States. Griffiths and Boyd were granted an overall score of 7.715, taking over the lead at that point of the competition, and ending the night in eighth place overall against a highly competitive field.
Their score also made history for being the highest ever achieved by Canadian vaulters at the FEI World Equestrian Games. This record was made even more impressive by the fact that the Games marked the first time Griffiths and Boyd ever performed this particular freestyle routine.
“We actually changed our freestyle for the Games. We’d been working with different music through the year, but we just weren’t quite feeling it the way that we really needed to and wanted to for the Games,” said Griffiths, who also helped Canada’s Vaulting Squad finish in the top 10 earlier in the week, qualifying them to move forward to the final on September 5. “We started on the new freestyle about two months ago. We have brand new suits, new music, new everything. But it just felt right.”
“The other awesome part is that it worked perfectly with the way the horse goes, because it really matches his cadence. Everything in vaulting is about the harmony between the vaulters and the horse, so this freestyle just worked for us on all levels. And, it was just so fun for us to do,” continued Griffiths, who represented the United States at the previous two Games before obtaining Canadian citizenship and joining the Canadian Vaulting Team in 2014.
Boyd, who was making her FEI World Equestrian Games debut in Normandy, was also thrilled about the performance, stating, “It’s definitely the most exciting routine that I’ve ever done. Before the Games, we trained in Scotland, but until then, we had never even done any of these moves in canter before. I’m so thankful it came together, and the entire experience has been amazing.”
Canadian Chef d’Equipe, Rebecca Marland, explained that it was even her first time witnessing the duo’s new routine.
“I think Todd and Brooke did a wonderful job. It’s the first time I’ve actually seen them perform that routine, and I was very impressed. It was fun to watch, and they had great music. They really seemed to flow together and it was a delight to watch.”
Pas-de-Deux veterans and sisters, Jeanine and Angelique van der Sluijs of Olds, AB were next up for Canada, paired with Lunger, Liz Mackay of Great Britain, and ILPH Islay, a 19-year-old ex-police horse owned by the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH). They put in a moving performance set to piano music to finish in 10th overall on a score of 6.949.
No strangers to the Zenith arena this week, the van der Sluijs’ were both part of Canada’s Squad, with Jeanine also qualifying and competing in the FEI World Female Individual Vaulting Championship, finishing in 21st place overall on September 2.
“Our theme was rain and thunderstorms. We wanted to pick something that was a little bit more universal and that we could relate to ourselves,” explained Jeanine, who also represented Canada as an individual at the 2010 Games in Kentucky, USA. “We really wanted to compete together one day, and this was our year. We got to compete together as sisters, and really enjoy the experience together.”
Angelique was also thrilled with the performance, and the overall experience of her inaugural Games as a competitor.
“It’s really been a three-year long goal, and it’s amazing that we’ve made it here. The whole experience has been indescribable,” said Angelique, who has been competing internationally since 2010, and stepped in as the Chef d’Equipe for the Canadian Vaulting Team at the 2012 World Vaulting Championships in Le Mans, FRA.
Marland added, “Jeanine and Angelique are a grand team. I think that they work so well together as vaulters, as family, and as sisters. They are very focused, and it really works.”
Both Canadian teams will move forward as part of the 12 teams set to perform a second Pas-de-Deux Freestyle at the Games on September 5 to determine final placings and medal winners. The current leaders heading into round two are Jasmin Lindner and Lukas Wacha of Austria. Germans, Gera Marie Grun and Justin Van Gerven are holding second, with Joanne and Hannah Eccles of Great Britain in third.
September 5 will mark the final day of Vaulting competition at the Games. Canadian Vaulters will compete throughout the day in both the Pas-de-Deux and Squad finals.
To obtain final results and access the latest news from the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, go to www.normandy2014.com.
Full information on Canadian Equestrian Team members can be found at www.equinecanada.ca/cet.
Access to live broadcasts of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 is available through the FEI TV website.
The FEI World Equestrian Games are held every four years, in the middle of the Olympic cycle. The inaugural Games were hosted in Stockholm (SWE) in 1990. Since then, the Games have been staged in The Hague (NED) in 1994, Rome (ITA) in 1998, Jerez (ESP) in 2002, Aachen (GER) in 2006, and Kentucky (USA) in 2010. The next FEI World Equestrian Games will be proudly hosted by Canada in beautiful Bromont, QC. More information on the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games in Bromont is available here.
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Brooke Boyd and Todd Griffiths
Angelique and Jeanine van der Sluijs