CHIO Aachen: Who Is Responsible For This Unique Event?

This weekend we could read superlatives like “lion’s den” (Corinna Knauf), “Aachen, most beautiful competition ever” (Roxanne Ruigrok) and “We have sent our wishes to the universe a few times but it looks like they have only answered in Aachen” (Club Obersiebenbrunn).

How is it possible that Aachen is such a special place for vaulters? We asked the organizer of the vaulting events at the CHIO Aachen as well as the WEG in Kentucky, Kersten Klophaus.

What is your role in the vaulting sport?

I used to vault as a child and teenager in a squad as well as individually. Later, I was active as a coach and judge. From that followed that I became Vaulting Delegate of the association Rhineland and represented the interests of the vaulters at the national equestrian association in the Consulting Committee for Vaulting for twelve years, thereof four years as chairman of the discipline’s advisory board at the German Olympic Committee of Equestrian Sports.

In 2013, that was the reason why I was asked by the organizers of the WEG in Aachen if I wanted to assume the responsibility for the vaulting competitions. Of course I agreed, you don’t get asked things like that very often. During the games in Aachen, the organizer of Kentucky came to me to offer me the work as discipline manager as well. I was pleased about it at that time.

Since 2006 vaulting has been a permanent part of the CHIO Aachen – great for our sport. Year after year the volunteers meet in Aachen to ensure the sequel. For us all and especially the Aachen-Laurensberger-Rennverein it was clear we would organize the world championships 2010 with that team.

Recently I saw a vaulting picture with the caption that it must have been taken in Germany since there are actually spectators in the background. Why is especially a competition like Aachen (the picture was from there) so popular and sold out long in advance?

The atmosphere at the WEG 2006 was fantastic. Nearly everything went perfectly. The competitions were exciting, in parts neck to neck with stunning freestyles. The finals were transmitted live by TV and for the first time today’s kiss and cry corner was provided.
For many vaulters, like other disciplines too, Aachen is considered as the biggest what you can achieve. On the one hand the enthusiastic spectators provide an unique atmosphere. On the other hand the circumstances in Aachen ware ideal.

This once-only atmosphere and the quality of the participants, every year top vaulters from all over the world are competing, attracts the public. Saturday and Sunday are sold out months in advance. Of course, it is possible to offer the competition in a bigger arena. We are sure many more tickets could be sold. Since we need a roof above our heads it is not possible in the Soers.

The prize money is unbelievable high this year: 20.000 EUR for all five categories. How is this possible in vaulting?

The prize moneys in Aachen have been well stocked for years now. The “Sparkasse” (a German bank) is very keen on the athletic performances of the vaulters and the fanatstic atmosphere in the arena. We are very glad about their commitment.

Why are you so excited about vaulting that you invest so much effort into a perfect event? What are the challenges compared to other disciplines?

The volunteers’ team in Aachen has been working together for twelve years now. Everyone knows his tasks and is thinking as well as working in the sense of the event. Everybody has the same interest: we create perfect conditions for our visitors, two- and four-legged athletes.
In the past some important impulses to the sport come from Aachen. To name but a few: kiss and cry area, score announcement after every competitor, the nations prize and of course the great live transmission on TV.

All of this is sufficient motivation for all volunteers to give everything for four days, year by year.

Thank you for all the answers during the CHIO!
Kersten Klophaus is an expert in organizing big competitions. That’s why we want to learn more from him. We will ask Kersten about vaulting footings during the next weeks.

Adele Feuerstein

I am Adele Feuerstein the founder of the blog. I used to vault & train teams in Germany. Now I am only an observer & love to share my knowledge about international vaulting with you.