Alina Shines on Goldjunge on Day 1 of FEI Vaulting World Cup Final

(Last Updated On: January 12, 2024)
Rebecca Greggio and Davide Zanella (ITA) with Orlando Tancredi © FEI/Martin Dokoupil

The 12th FEI Vaulting World Cup final opened in spectacular fashion in the St Jakobshalle in snowy Basel (SUI).  Germany flew into the lead in both individual events and only narrowly missed out on the Pas de Deux overnight top spot. The Italian pair, Rebecca Greggio and Davide Zanella, holds it for now.

With one of the best line-ups for an FEI Vaulting World Cup™ final ever, there was much anticipation ahead of the first-round Technical test.  Switzerland’s Nadja Büttiker set the bar high.  Opening the show can be a tough draw and she pulled on her wealth of experience to present a solid round, laying down 7.711 as the score to beat.  She finished round one in fifth. Some minor errors proved costly for a few of the females causing them to lose vital points; however, it wasn’t the case for Kimberly Palmer (USA). Vaulting with her trusty combination of Rosenstolz 99 and Laura Carnabucci, she capitalised on her artistic concept alongside solid technical exercises and earned herself 8.033 and the third place.

Making her World Cup debut, Alina Ross entered for Germany with a new horse and lunger partnership. She performed an incredibly intricate and difficult routine aboard the experienced Goldjunge with Jaqueline Schönteich, scoring top marks from three of the four judges and propelling herself to the top of the table (8.437).  Her compatriot and defending Champion, Kathrin Meyer, was last to go and softly presented a new routine with strong technical elements; however, a lower score from the artistic and horse judges left her behind, in second place, after round one (8.229).

The Men’s competition was arguably even more exciting.  Inspiring artistic concepts were the order of the day as Juan Martin Clavijo Vega (COL) entered the arena, first to go, and laid down the score to beat, 8.179. Thomas Brüsewitz (GER) showed some minor performance faults, but chose well in his decision to compete with William II Z and Maik Hussman. His round one total was 8.017, which wasn’t quite enough to beat his brother, Viktor, who had put on an excellent performance, gaining the highest artistic score of the day, and taking second place (8.389).

Twenty-three-year-old Theo Gardies (FRA) put on a show and threw everything at his technical programme.  Unfortunately, a lower score from the artistic judge left him just fractions behind Viktor, 8.343.  As Jannik Heiland entered the arena with Dark Beluga FRH and Barbara Rosiny, it was a case of save the best until last. A top score from the horse judge alongside his quality vaulting ensured he had the overnight lead scoring 8.549.

Pas de Deux

The crowd was thrilled as the Pas de Deux competition got underway. A nervous start saw Gitano des Monods trot at the beginning of Li Laffer and Illona Hannich’s routine, significantly dropping their horse score and leaving them at the bottom of the table (7.225). Fellow Swiss pair Zoe Maruccio and Syra Schmid were very clean in their performance; they connected well throughout their Free test earning a well-deserved 7.998 and the third place. For Austrians Romana Hintner and Eva Nagiller, it was not their day.  They were unable to repeat their previous impeccable performances, with too many execution errors placing them in fourth, scoring 7.871. 

Only two combinations were able to break into the ‘eights’ as a final score.  Firstly, all were enraptured by Italy’s Rebecca Greggio and Davide Zanella. With catchy and intricate transitions along with impeccable choreography, they entertained the audience from start to finish. Claudia Peterson kept Orlando Tancredi steady but forward going on the lunge, which altogether synthesised into an eye-catching routine scoring 8.196.

Not to be outdone, Diana Harwardt and Peter Künne entered with a score to settle, having finished second at the final last year. Symbiotically, they moved as one on DSP Sir Lau Lau, performing their high difficulty Free test with apparent ease. However, their flawless routine ended abruptly as their horse decided the test was finished when Diana dismounted and stopped dead, despite Peter still being on board. Fortunately, Andrea Harwardt got him moving again and Peter could dismount before the time limit, but it was an incredibly costly error and lost them the first place, 8.130.

The athletes have brought their A-game to Basel and put on a thrilling spectacle, which is even more special as the 2025 final will also be held here, alongside the FEI Jumping and Dressage World Cup finals (

by Joanne Littlejohn

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