Parksville’s West Coast Vaulters wrapped up their first trip to the World Equestrian Vaulting Championships Sunday by placing 12th in the senior squad competition in the five-day event in Le Mans, France.
Competing as Team Canada, the local team placed 12th in the first round of the senior squads competition, the compulsory routine, with a score of 5.530 points aboard Charlie, a borrowed horse from a German stable.
The team again placed 12th in the first round of freestyle competition, with 5.676 points, then improved its score to 6.083 points in the second free round but was unable to move up in the standings.
The championship went to the host French team with an average score of 8.343, with Germany grabbing silver (8.260) and Austria taking the bronze (8.159).
“Team Canada was able to share the stage with the world’s best vaulters,” said Ariadne Greekas of Qualicum Beach, who took part in the team competition. “It was a great honour to be up against Team France and all the other amazing teams. We learned a lot about ourselves and what it takes to be a team; we are all proud to have represented Canada.”
In the Senior Female individual competition, Jessica Bentzen of Parksville placed 29th in the compulsory opening round, with 6.752 points. In the first of two freestyle rounds she slipped to 33rd place overall while scoring 5.105 for an average score of 5.928 points.
The top 15 qualifiers advanced to the final freestyle round, where Austria’s Jasmin Lindner emerged as the winner with an 8.212 average score.
The championships drew competitors from 20 nations to compete in individual, Pas de deux and team classifications, for both men and women.
The West Coast Vaulters, who qualified for the world championships earlier this year, were represented by Bentzen, Greekas, Danielle Adams of Parksville, Alex Balance of Qualicum Beach and Charlotte Axani and Averill Saunders of Alberta, who travel to Vancouver Island to train with the team.
The club, founded by Debbie Bentzen, is coached by veteran vaulter Gabe Aniello, who competed for the U.S. in the 2014 World Equestrian Games.
The vaulters departed for Europe earlier this month and trained in Germany before going on to Le Mans for the competition.
The West Coast Vaulters became just the second Canadian team to compete in the world championships, a biennial competition that will next be hosted in Quebec in 2018.
—NEWS Staff and submission