Articles: Horse News
U.S. Vaulting Team in Third after Freestyle; McCormick Holding Fourth,
Griffiths in Eleventh Individually
U.S. Vaulting Team During Freestyle.
Photo by Shannon Brinkman for USEF.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 8, 2010
by Sarah Lane
Lexington, KY - Thousands of fans packed into Alltech Arena for the FEI
World Vaulting Championships this evening, waiting to see if the crowd
favorite - the U.S. Vaulting Team - could hold on to the lead in the Team
Freestyle. Together, these U.S. vaulters have earned a world-class
reputation for technical difficulty, impeccable form, and breathtaking
The team, made up of Devon Maitozo (35) of Woodside, CA, Blake Dahlgren (26)
of Santa Clarita, CA, Mary Garrett (20) of Seal Beach, CA, Emily Hogye (14)
of Ben Lomond, CA, Mari Inouye (27) of Redwood City, CA, Rosalind Ross (20)
of Aptos, CA, and Annalise VanVranken (18) of Mays Landing, NJ, jogged out
in perfect formation, and began their performance with Palatine, a
12-year-old Westphalian gelding, lunged by Carolyn Bland and owned by
Maitozo. Their elegantly choreographed routine, set to Prokofiev's Romeo and
Juliet Ballet, started beautifully, but midway through, was slightly marred
by an unfortunate fall. After what Maitozo described as a sudden movement by
a video camera, Palatine shied, cutting in to the circle a bit. Their
delicate balance was disrupted, sending 14-year-old Emily Hogye to the
ground, and Maitozo right behind her.
"It was a video camera moving and the horse is somewhat sensitive to
movement," shared Maitozo, who also coaches the team. "We didn't anticipate
the camera." The disappointment shone clearly through the eyes of each of
the seven vaulters who graciously met with members of the press right after
the incident; but despite the obvious letdown, they also carried a sense of
collective pride, grace and poise that will ultimately carry them through to
the Final on Sunday.
"We're bummed," Maitozo continued. "Physically, we're fine. Mentally, we'll
recover. We're going to sift through what just happened, and realize that we
didn't really have control over this situation, and take one step at a
U.S. Vaulting Team.
Photo by Shannon Brinkman for USEF.
To the team's credit, after the brief pause mid-routine, they shook off the
incident and recovered, finishing with a solid performance that earned them
an 8.102, the third highest freestyle score of the day, and enough to keep
them fighting for a place in the medals. Their cumulative score is now
7.655, dropping them to third place. Mere fractions of a point away,
Germany now leads with a 7.698. Austria is close behind with a 7.664.
The FEI World Vaulting Championships will conclude with the Vaulting
Freestyle Team Final, scheduled to begin on Sunday at 11:00 a.m.
Male and Female Individual Technical Tests
Before the Team Freestyle got underway, the U.S. Men and Women made a
confident showing in the Male and Female Individual Technical Tests. Today's
favorite was Mary McCormick of Woodside, CA, who performed an expressive
routine set to Patsy Cline's "Crazy," a song she chose to pay homage to the
South, and her birthplace, Nashville, TN.
"I felt like I finally settled into the excitement in the arena," said
McCormick, 27, of Woodside, CA. "I love performing in front of people and I
had to remind myself of that. They love me and support me and want me to do
well. I tried to use that positive energy."
McCormick, who vaults on Sir Anthony Van Dyck, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding,
lunged by Carolyn Bland and owned by Sydney Frankel, said her horse had a
slight trip at the beginning of her routine, which went unnoticed by all but
the most astute of observers.
"I told myself to trust the horse and it worked out," McCormick said,
relieved. "He was a champion! He's so steady; he's such a leader for me."
McCormick's technical prowess earned her an 8.300; she's hanging onto fourth
place now with a cumulative score of 8.133, less than six-hundredths of a
point behind the current bronze medal position.
"I'm ready to get out there and kick some butt tomorrow," McCormick said
good-naturedly. "I'm very excited about the Final. I've got the 'American
Woman' theme going here and hopefully we can get some emotional attachment
from the audience."
U.S. vaulters Megan Benjamin, 22, of Saratoga, CA, and Alicen Divita 21, of
Redwood City, CA, are just behind McCormick, sitting in fifth and sixth
places respectively. Benjamin, who was the 2006 World Champion in Aachen,
was rewarded with an 8.355 for today's technical test, bringing her back
into contention from eleventh place, with a new overall score of
8.065. Benjamin vaults with Urfreund Rosengaard, a 15-year-old Danish
Warmblood gelding, owned and lunged by Lasse Kristensen.
Divita's test brought in a score of 8.100, resulting in an overall score of
8.025. She vaults with Giovanni, a 13-year-old Mecklenberger gelding owned
lunged by her mother, Julie Divita.
The current leaders for the women's individual vaulting are Great Britain's
Joanne Eccles and W H Bentley, with a score of 8.327, Germany's Antje Hill
and Airbus, with an 8.207, and in the bronze medal position, Germany's
Simone Wiegele with Arkansas, whose cumulative score rests at 8.192.
In the Male Individual Technical Test, the United States' Todd Griffiths put
in a worthy performance, vaulting aboard Lanson 16, alongside lunger Jessica
Ballenger, to earn a technical score of 6.778, and an overall of 7.210.
"I probably did the best technical I've done this year, if not ever,"
Griffiths said enthusiastically. "I feel really good about my performance,
and how my horse went."
As Griffiths, 31, is presently living in Canada, where he is a practicing
veterinarian, he knew he needed to borrow a horse he could trust
completely. That's where the 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Lanson 16,
"We have a really good connection and he carries me really well," he said of
his equine partner, who is owned by Jan and Betsy Garrod.
Griffiths is currently in 11th place. Going into Saturday's Individual
Final, his goal is simply to perform his freestyle better than ever.
"There are a lot of people I know in the stands, and that's a totally new
experience," he said. "It's fun to be able to look up and see people who are
there cheering for you. Freestyle is my strength, and I'm going to put in
two of the harder moves I know how to do. I want to give the home crowd a
taste of what U.S. vaulters can do, and go out with a bang."
Just behind Griffiths is Kenny Geisler and Jacadi de Rox, a 13-year-old
Selle Francais gelding, owned by Julie Anne Young. They're currently in 12th
place, after earning a 6.480 today, which brings their overall total to
The individual competitions for the FEI World Vaulting Championships will
conclude Saturday, with the Vaulting Freestyle Final in both the Women's and
Men's divisions. Competition is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m.
The team and individual competition from Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be
available as video-on-demand (recorded) on www.USEFNetwork.com, at the
conclusion of the competition each day.