Articles: Press Release
Megan Benjamin Takes Women's Gold in Vaulting; Amy Tryon Wins Eventing's
Individual Bronze Medal
United States Equestrian Federation, Inc.
4047 Iron Works Parkway
Lexington, KY 40511-8483
Tel: (859) 258-2472
Fax (859) 231-6662
Web site: www.usef.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 27, 2006
(Aachen, Germany) - It all came down to one minute. It was years in the
making, but it came down to one minute in Aachen, Germany, and when that
one minute was over, 18-year-old Megan Benjamin of Saratoga, CA, was the
first female American vaulter ever to take a world championship. For the
past 20 years, a German woman has always held the title of World
Champion, and Germany has also won 23 of the last 30 world
championships. Today, Germany stepped aside while the U.S. made history.
Benjamin was the last vaulter of the day, so it all came down to a
nail-biting finish for the Americans. Benjamin had a few hours to rest
between her Team Silver performance with the F.A.M.E. team representing
the U.S. Her Team Silver hadn't even sunk in when she had to vault
aboard the horse she co-owns, Leonardo, with longeur Lasse Kristensen.
Benjamin had been the leader through all three days of competition.
Benjamin again had the highest freestyle score of 8.720, taking the
title with a competition total of 8.421. Benjamin took her victory
gallop on foot with her United States flag in tow, along with longeur
and co-owner of "Leo," Kristensen. Austrian Katharina Faltin earned the
Silver medal with a score of 8.311, and fellow Austrian Sissi Jarz took
Bronze with an 8.254.
"I've actually never done so well as this year," said Benjamin. "It's
amazing. A lot of my success has to do with the fact that I am also on
Devon Maitozo's team."
Since she is 18 and will next year have to choose between vaulting as an
individual or on a team, the inevitable question came up. "Unless I am
ever asked to be on a team this great, I plan to compete as an
Today was full of firsts; it was also the first time in history an
American vaulting team has won Silver in a world championship.
The top 12 teams were back today to perform their "kur" or freestyle.
The U.S team vaulted third to last, in reverse order of go. The
freestyle routine is made up of both static and dynamic exercises.
Static exercises must be held for three strides, while dynamic exercises
are ones in which the center of gravity moves from one point to another.
Only the top 25 most difficult exercises performed over the four minutes
The real competition was between the U.S.A., Austria and Germany. The
U.S.A's F.AM.E. team continued to climb after a somewhat disappointing
freestyle, due to their horse being unsure of his surroundings. Their
choreography again impressed the packed stadium, continuing their moves
throughout the performance, even when not in contact with the horse.
They scored even higher than yesterday-an 8.936, the highest again of
the competition. Overall, they received an 8.152 for their outstanding
effort, earning them a Team Silver, just barely out of reach of the
Gold. This is the best an American team has ever done at a world
championship, even more impressive since they've competed only seven
times and have only been a team since October.
When asked what his words of advice were for his team going in today,
team member and coach, Maitozo replied, "Today was just about looks and
pats. We just looked at each other with that little twinkle in our eye
knowing we could do it, and that's pretty much all we needed to say
today. We really do trust each other, and we've learned to work together
The Austrians entered the arena after the Americans and had huge shoes
to fill. Despite their calm nerves and their fearless flyer, who could
do just about anything with her little body, they ended their trip with
an 8.161 overall and the Bronze medal.
The Germans were last to go and after part of their music spooked their
horse and two vaulters fell, it appeared they left an opening for the
U.S. to win a Gold. But it was not to be. Germany earned an 8.571 in
their freestyle, which got them the Gold medal with a total score of
When asked what felt different about today's performance, U.S team
member Rosalind Ross responded, "This one felt like it was for the
audience." The team was also very generous about thanking the horses
that got them to this point, including their horses back home who
endured endless hours of practice.
"Our goal is always to take what we've done before and make it better,"
said team member Blake Dahlgren. "That is what our whole goal was. We're
always trying to push the sport to another level and show people how we
think vaulting should be."
F.A.M.E. team members are Benjamin; Dahlgren, from Sun Valley, CA;
Maitozo, from Simi Valley, CA; Ross, from Woodside, CA; Elizabeth
Iaonnou, from Saratoga, CA; Annalise Van Vranken from Mays Landing, NJ;
and alternate Katie Richie, from Santa Cruz, CA. F.A.M.E. vaulted again
aboard their 12-year-old, 18.3-hand Hanoverian, Grand Gaudino, owned and
longed by Dr. Silke Bartel.
The Brazilians, in their Peter Pan-like outfits, had a beautifully
choreographed performance, including their entrance, right down to
little Tinkerbelle, their flyer, in all white. The Slovakians also put
in a strong performance, telling a story set deep in the jungle, with
their three girls in tiger striped outfits, matching their horse's
The Polish team were the third to go today and incurred some misfortune
when two vaulters fell, pulling the surcingle off center. The bell rung,
and they had to stop to tighten and readjust their surcingle. Another
team who experienced misfortune today was the Italian team. Three
members tumbled off toward the end of their program. One was able to get
back on and properly dismount, but the other two appeared to be too sore
Although there were no American men left in the individual competition,
it was still the place to be with the most intricate moves, the most
colorful costumes and the most heart-pounding music. The Germans easily
hung on to their reign in men's individual vaulting. Kai Vorberg,
defending his title and dressed as Mozart, he performed to 'Rock Me
Amadeus' and took another Gold medal with a score of 8.524. Vorberg was
so excited after winning that he sprinted around the stadium, taking off
his vaulting shoes, one by one, and threw them into the audience to the
delight of two lucky ladies.
"Vaulting is especially for the audience, then for the judges," Vorberg
said. "It is fun to show what you practiced and are able to do. It is
great to show you enjoy it." As far as why he picked Mozart..."There is
some genius mixed with madness and you put it all together and that may
The Silver medal went to the statuesque Gero Meyer, of Germany, who
earned a score of 8.161. Not far behind with an 8.150 was Ladislav
Majdlen, of Slovakia, with the Bronze medal.
"The theme of my kur is jump high and try to grab the stars," said
Meyer. "You might fall deep. I've fallen deep but I am here and happy to
be here. This is an awesome success."
Eventing: Tryon Brings Home a Bronze
Medals were handed out in no short supply today with no less than five
Gold medals up for grabs between vaulting and eventing, and the United
States did its bidding to claim their share. The final phase of eventing
was contested in the Main Stadium, where the show jumping phase played
out. And, in vaulting, three separate titles were decided in a packed
and extremely energetic Stadium 3.
In, the eventing final, it was Britain's own royal subject, Zara
Phillips, to lead the pack of 56 into show jumping, and that's how it
ended. Phillips, the daughter of HRH The Princess Anne and Team U.S.A.'s
chef d'equipe Captain Mark Phillips, took her dressage score of 41.7
aboard Toy Town straight through cross-country and show jumping and onto
the medal podium to claim the Gold medal in eventing. Australia's
Clayton Fredericks and Ben Along Time snagged the Silver medal after
having cleared the course in 92.71 seconds (they added 4.4 time
penalties in cross-country).
"He felt great, and he's been jumping well. He [Toy Town] loves crowds,
and he likes to perform. He thinks they're all there to watch him," she
said in regards to the packed crowds and whether her horse could cope
with the course like the one in the final. I thought, in front of a
crowd like that, it would probably help him."
It was Washington's Amy Tryon and her Olympic horse Poggio II that saw
America bring home its one eventing medal from these Games. The pair
laid down a dressage score of 50.7, and it stuck, adding no
cross-country penalties, nor any show jumping rails. She stood in
seventh place coming into the final phase of today's event. Her clean
and clear round in 89.44 seconds was enough to secure her the honor and
it was bestowed atop a rain-soaked medal podium. Ironically, the
threatening skies held off pretty much right until the awarding of the
Coming into show jumping in seventh place, Tryon said it was a big
surprise to be sitting where she was.
"It's a huge surprise...my goal this week was to be a good pathfinder
for my team, and I never considered this particular horse to be an
individual-medal type horse," she said. "He came off the racetrack and
was a pack horse for a couple of years. I'm lucky to ride him. He's a
horse that has stepped outside of his class a little bit with what he's
done. I've had him for a lot of years now, and I'm lucky to be able to
sit on him."
She said she was pleased overall with her efforts this week, having
started in a dressage downpour and making it through the cross-country
under time and with no penalties. "He has a unique way of going, and
I've learned through the years to keep my hands down and let him do his
Tryon and Poggio were the only Americans to post a clean and clear show
In the team standings, it was a fourth-place finish for Team U.S.A.,
just eight-tenths of one point off the medal podium on a score of 198.1.
Germany won the Gold (156.0), Great Britain took the Silver team medal
(180.0) and Australia goes home with the Team Bronze (197.3). Tryon,
Will Faudree, Kim Severson and Heidi White competed in the team
competition, while Jan Byyny and Karen O'Connor competed as individual
members of the U.S. squad.
At the end of the day, the Americans finished as follows: Kim Severson
and Winsome Adante at 17th on a score of 71.7; Will Faudree and Antigua
at 19th on a score of 75.7; Heidi White and Northern Spy at 27th on a
score of 89.2; Karen O'Connor and Upstage at 42nd on a score of 127.8;
and, Jan Byyny and Task Force at 45th on a score of 132.5.
Break in Competition
Competition will take a one-day break at the 2006 World Equestrian Games
on Monday. It will resume on Tuesday, August 29 with the first rounds of
By Jeannie Blancq Putney and Brian Sosby
For more information, please contact Maria Partlow, Senior Vice
President of Marketing and Communications, at (859) 225-6941 or
*The information sent from this e-mail address is for posting of press
releases only. Incoming messages will not be received. Please contact
the party listed if you have any questions.
As the National Governing Body (NGB) of Equestrian Sport, the United
States Equestrian Federation(r), Inc. (USEF) is the regulatory body for
28 breeds and disciplines, including our country's international teams
competing in the disciplines of dressage, driving, endurance, eventing,
para-equestrian, reining, show jumping and vaulting. With over 87,000
members, it is the country's largest multi-breed organization and
annually license more than 2,800 competitions nationwide. The USEF
governs all aspects of competition, including education and licensing of
all judges, stewards, and technical delegates who officiate shows.
Vision Statement: The vision of United States Equestrian Federation(r)
is to provide leadership for equestrian sport in the United States of
America, promoting the pursuit of excellence from the grassroots to the
Olympic Games, based on a foundation of fair, safe competition and the
welfare of its horses, and embracing this vision, to be the best
national equestrian federation in the world.