Almanac

Sports - August 20, 2014

Vaulters win national titles, head to international games

by Barbara Wood

Woodside happens to be the home of two internationally competitive athletic teams: the Woodside Vaulters and Pacific Coast Vaulting.

Athletes from both teams were recently named national champions in their sport, in which gymnastics and dance moves are performed on the back of a cantering horse, and both are sending athletes to an international championship in France later this month.

The local vaulters will leave Aug. 21 for Normandy, France, to represent the United States in the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, after winning national titles at a recent competition in Oregon.

The Woodside Vaulters will have a team and individuals competing at the world games along with individual athletes from Pacific Coast Vaulting.

Woodside Vaulters team members are Tessa Divita, 16, and Rachel Polati, 17, of Emerald Hills; Siddartha Kreaden, 16, of Sunnyvale; Audrey Kiernan, 11, and Kristen Kuhn, 12, of San Mateo; and Miki Yang, 10, of Los Altos Hills. Patrick Stevens of Martinez will compete in the individual men's competition.

The Pacific Coast Vaulting team members going to France are Mary McCormick of Woodside, Kristian Roberts of Moss Beach, and Mary Garrett of Mountain View.

The Woodside Vaulters team placed first in the nation in its division at the national championships in Eugene, Oregon, which took place July 31 to Aug. 3. In the team's routine, members dressed as characters from the "Wizard of Oz" and performed to music from the movie.

In Oregon, members of the two Woodside teams swept three of the first four places in the nation in the individual women's division: McCormick was first, Garrett was second, Elizabeth Ioannou (of the Mt. Eden Vaulters from Saratoga) was third, and Alicen Divita (of the Woodside Vaulters and from Redwood City) was fourth.

Roberts and Garrett were first in the open Pas de Deux (pairs) division. Roberts also won first in the individual men's division, while Stevens was second.

The trip to Europe will be the second within weeks for the local vaulters. In July they competed in a prestigious international equestrian event in Aachen, Germany, where the Woodside Vaulters team placed fourth overall.

In Germany, McCormick came in seventh overall in the individual female division, Ioannou was eighth and Garrett was 19th. Roberts and Garrett came in fourth overall in the Pas de Deux division and Roberts was 17th in the individual male division.

Susie Bors of Woodside, a member of the board of directors of the Woodside Vaulters, says that while vaulting may not be a well-known sport in the U.S., it is much more common in Europe. "I am very proud of our team for doing as well as it does internationally," she said. "Vaulting is pretty huge in Europe with almost every riding club — and there are lots — having a team."

The vaulters' horses are part of their team, and usually travel with them. The Woodside Vaulters will take a horse named Stanford, a 17-hand (or 5-feet 6-inches tall at the shoulder), 16-year-old Hanoverian gelding, owned by the team. In July Stanford flew to Germany on a KLM flight with his handler, Julie Divita.

Julie Divita, who is from Emerald Hills, is also a big part of the vaulting team. In competitions, she guides Stanford as he canters around the ring on a long lunge line while the vaulters perform on his back.

For his trip to Germany, Stanford was first taken by trailer to Los Angeles, to a facility called Jet Pet, where he spent the night. He was then loaded into a container and shipped on an afternoon KLM flight to Amsterdam from the Los Angeles International Airport. Julie Divita was allowed to travel on the plane with Stanford.

The Pacific Coast Vaulting Club's horse, Palatine, a 16-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Sydney Frankel of Woodside, traveled along with Stanford, but he remained in Europe for the upcoming competition.

Stanford and the Woodside Vaulters team will practice in Le Mans until the competition, which takes place Sept. 1 to 6, Bors said.

The vaulting competition at the World Equestrian Games will feature competitors from 74 national federations and as many as 223 nominated athletes (16 pas-de-deux of 2 vaulters; 20 squads of 6 vaulters; 46 individual females and 25 individual males) and 165 horses.

The World Equestrian games also features jumping, dressage, eventing, driving, endurance, reining and para-dressage in addition to vaulting, along with polo and horse ball exhibitions. A total of 74 nations and more than 2,000 horses were nominated to compete.

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