WEG: Interview with Pia Engelberty

We can probably say that Pas des Deux was one of the hits of the World Equestrian Games. We had 12 pairs competing and saw a very intense competition, with only 0,108 separating the second placed to the fourth one on the final score. It was history on the making for the Pas des Deux, who had the opportunity to create new vaulting and participate on this incredible competition.

Pia Engelberty has always been one of my favorite vaulters, ever since those times she vaulted with the team from Cologne. She, as so many athletes we saw this year, also came from the jr category, Pia was vize European Champion in 2008, but is now competing as a Pas des Deux and came in second place this year.

I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions. Check it out as she comments on what it takes to vault as a Pas des Deux and how were those competition days when she, and Torben Jacobs, had quite a comeback until they hit the silver medal.

  1. Where did the idea to start a Pas des Deux come from? And why do you think you and Torben form such a good vaulting pair? When did you start vaulting together?

Actually the idea came from Ulla Ramge (german national coach). After Torben’s european championship title in 2011 with Theresa-Sophie Bresch, Ulla Ramge wanted him to compete in Pas-de-Deux again. Torben had just joint to our vaulting club and because I also had some experience in Pas-de-Deux we tried our best for the world championships 2012 and started training in june 2012. Now we’re training together for two years and the more time passes the better we fit together.

  1. What does it take to be a good pas des deux?

It needs a little bit of everything. Torben and I both did team and individual as well. Doing Pas-de-deux combines both. You need to be a good individual vaulter with individual qualities. But at the same time you share the horse with a second person and it’s the most important thing to build a pair. Communication, rhythm and trust are the keywords for that.

  1. What’s the difference for you from being in a team and being with a pas des deux?

In pas de deux you change your position more often. In the team you have to fulfill a more specific role and you can share the freestyle exercises with your team members. But being with a pas de deux it’s your turn all the time and the exercises are more complex. There is never a third person, who secures everything. But anyway from the atmosphere and team spirit I like team vaulting the most. And that’s why I enjoy vaulting together with another pas-de-deux (Gera Maria Grün and Justin van Gerven) we build our own little team.

  1. You are now back with Köln’s main squad. And you became a flyer again. How do you think this pas des deux experience has made your vaulting better? Do you feel you became a better athlete today?

I’m not really back into the squad it was more an exception. And it was big fun being the flyer for the first time in my life. When I was 12 years old I came into Köln`s main squad but I was such a bad flyer that I needed to go into other positions very fast. And now I’m feeling very comfortable being flyer and feel much braver. I’m pretty sure that pas-de-deux improved my vaulting skills a lot.

  1. What was the toughest moment of your vaulting career up to now?

I never had any bad injuries from vaulting but last year at CHIO Aachen I fell on my head and lost my memory for a short time. At the end I had no bad injures but that moment was so frightening that I couldn’t imagine to go on the horse again. Anyway I recovered very fast and of course I kept on vaulting.

  1. How is your everyday routine? How do you fit practice with the team, pas des deux and all the other things in just one life?

I’m used to fully packed everyday life and maybe even addicted to it. Studying, vaulting and next to it as much holiday as possible is sometimes a lot but I like it that way most of the time.

  1. How was WEG for you? You actually made quite a comeback from Thursday to Friday. How was that evening? Were you nervous? What did you do?

WEG was maybe the biggest thing I’ve ever experienced, but it needs still some more time for telling that for sure. After Thursday we were simply very disappointed, because the freestyle was very good except for Torbens dismount. Torben felt like he did the mistake that decided everything. But we couldn’t change anything, so it was crucial that we kept faith in ourselves. It still wasn’t impossible to reach a medal. So we went for dinner after the first freestyle to calm down and relax but still the night was horrible for all of us. But the next morning we felt better, we knew the freestyle hadn’t changed over night, it was still the same we had practiced uncountable times. So we did a solid freestyle and had a happy happy end winning the silver medal.

  1. What are your plans for the future?

Next semester I’m going to study in Austria. It’s my last chance for an Erasmus exchange, but at the same time I want to keep on vaulting. The Europeans 2015 in Aachen is our next big goal and we will give our best to keep on improving our freestyle for that. But till Aachen we just want to enjoy every vaulting competition we are allowed to compete on.


I am a 27 years old psychologist from Brazil, although I have graduated in psychology I work with media and communications, with a focus on data analysis. I am currently heading towards a master's degree at the London School of Economics (LSE). I am not vaulting anymore, but I did for over 10 years. As it very often happens in our sport, I never really left, I taught at a social project for a few years and have been working on VN since 2014.

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