Twelve nations were present on Friday evening for the Vaulting team final, including France, who had thus far been stuck in fourth place. The German team, favourites after winning the first phase of the final, were untouchable with their routine to a song by the British group Muse. With a total of 8.724 points, Mannschaft were crowned World Team Champions, watched by the awe-struck Kaiser of Jumping, Ludger Beerbaum. "The season has been particularly long and difficult. This gold medal is a fantastic reward: it was the horse’s first season and we have two new members in the team. Despite this, we gave it the best we could this evening,” commented the World Team Champion’s lunger, Jessica Schmitz.
France took the lead for a time with their well-mastered, highly technical routine. The six members of the team from La Cigogne Stables stayed strong and did not bow to pressure, finally clinching France’s first World Team Championship medal. Luck was not on Austria’s side, however, as despite being front runners they suffered a fall, leaving France to snatch a place on the podium. “It’s the first time that France has won a team medal at the World Equestrian Games. It’s fantastic, we’re lost for words,” said the French team. “There was a lot on pressure on us performing in front of our home crowd but we did what we had to do, we stayed focused and didn’t change our preparation. We performed a good free test and, as French vaulters, if you’d told us ten years ago, even four years ago, even at the beginning of the week, that we’d get a medal, we’d never have believed you. We often see foreign teams beat us and, as outsiders, we often just miss out on a medal.”
Switzerland took the silver with a total score of 8.504 points. "Of course we’d have liked the gold, but Germany were really too good. The girls fought particularly hard,” said Monika Winkler-Bischofbef, their lunger.
Vaulting is well and truly France’s “saving grace” at these Alltech FEI World Equestrian GamesTM 2014 in Normandy, earning the host country its fifth medal.
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