Long standing partnership catapults Denmark rider to WEG vaulting freestyle championship

Published 8:00 am Friday, September 21, 2018

Denmark’s Sheena Bendixen won the individual female’s freestyle of the vaulting competition at the Fédération Equestre Internationale 2018 World Equestrian Games on Wednesday, her score of 8.539 piping Germany’s Janika Derks and Sarah Kay. 

The 25-year old Bendixen, ranked in the world’s top 10, danced to victory and credited her long-standing partnership with black gelding Klintholms Ramstein and lunger Lasse Kristensen for the success. She won her first European Bronze medal with the same duo seven years ago in 2011. 

“One stand was a bit shaky, but I just continued and smiled,” said Bendixen, who earned top score for the Trakehner breed horse Ramstein, owned by her groom. 

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“We call him the psycho mouse. He loves the arena and always says ‘Here, look at me!’ I wanted to dance my emotions at this WEG, relaxation, power, elegance, harmony — everything should be in it.”

“I had warned her that there is nothing more difficult than really dancing on a horse, not only with expressive hands, but also with your feet and she did it,” said Kristensen, a former world class vaulter himself. 

Janika Derks scored 9.473 for her technique, the best of the morning. For her freestyle, she used the music “La Terre en Ciel” that had already brought a bronze medal on ice, dancing for Germany. 

“I wanted it to look easy, soft and fluffy, quite a contrast to my usual vaulting. I am a very technical and strong vaulter, and to show elegance and harmony is the hardest for me,” Derks said. 

“It is always the same, the easier something looks the harder it is,” said Derk’s lunger, Jessica Lichtenberg. 

Several female competitors managed to dance a complete story. U.S. athlete Tessa Dirks danced to the music of the movie “Little Red Riding Hood.” 

“I am kind of an upbeat person, and I had to pretend to be afraid, which is not quite like me,” Dirks said. “The panic of the wolf is more like the panic of the vaulter of not finishing on time.” 

That fear was unnecessary, because she finished on rank 7, with lunger Christoph Lensing, a double WEG silver medalist himself. 

– Submitted article