This interview was conducted by YOLOVAULTING. She talked to the vaulting couple Claire de Ridder (Netherlands) and Nicolas Andréani (France). Thanks for the great questions.
Nicolas, what are you doing since you retired from vaulting?
Nico: I am coaching vaulters all over the world. I have been a coach already when I was a vaulter, I am passionate about teaching. I really like to help evolve the vaulter and the sport. And I like to help vaulting progress into an (even) more artistic sport.
What do you think of the way vaulting changed since you stopped?
Nico: I think vaulting is developing in a good direction with being more artistic. I do not know if I personally changed something, but I do hope I inspired vaulters artistically. And I am happy that the FEI is putting the emphasis on the artistic part more and more to make vaulting more attractive for a broader audience (from outside our sport). I personally believe it is the way to do it. Because it makes it more fun and nice to watch.
How are your vaulting trips around the world? What are the differences between the countries?
Nico: I really like going to different countries everywhere in the world; I can discover the world. I also like it because I see a lot of different coaching techniques and ways of practicing.
There is a difference between the countries where they put their focus on the training. For example in Germany the focus is more on the technique, in France, the focus is more on the artistic part. Also in France, the horse is kind of religious. There is a very big importance to soft vaulting and respecting your horse. I think this also makes the difference if a vaulter is doing gymnastic exercises on a horse or dancing with the horse.
In my clinics, I try to make the vaulters realize the importance of physical preparation and artistic. For the physical preparation, I show them a lot of fun and good specific vaulter exercises on the ground and the barrel. And for the artistic, I like to give dancing and musical expression lessons.
I also like to work on gymnastic moves, especially for the dismount. I practiced gymnastics for 10 years when I was young and I like to pass on this experience to the vaulters. I think my clinics are the best in the world, no, just joking.
How are you two (Claire & Nico) work together, is it affecting your relationship?
Nico: It is difficult sometimes when I help Claire because she is my girlfriend. And there is a different interaction between us than if it would with a regular student. But it is also nice because we understand each other fast. And artistically it is very nice to work with her because we are on the same vibe.
How do you separate vaulting at home?
Nico: It is nice to be with someone that has the same passion. But we do not talk about vaulting the whole day. But we handstand at home of course!
Is it difficult when two countries work together?
Nico: It is very nice, there is no difficulty. We learn from our countries vaulting wise and in the normal day to day life.
Are you helping Claire a lot with her freestyle and choreography?
Nico: I would say that most of it is Claire’s own work. She comes up with the routine and music ideas and most of the moves. I just help with the fine tuning and give ideas on movements. I give my opinion on what is good and what could need change.
This part is about yolo questions, to get to know more about the yolo minds of Claire & Nico. Enjoy X
What do you like the most about the other?
Nico: Her artistic side, I love when she sings and dances.
Claire: Everything. I like that he is so funny.
Who is cooking?
Nico: I would like to say that I am cooking most of the time but I think Claire does not feel the same.
Claire: Yes, that is true… But I have to cook when Nico is not at home. And I love his crêpes.
Who is doing the dishwashing?
Nico: We have a dishwasher.
Claire: Yes, but it is broken at the moment but we are a good team of cleaning and drying.
What is it like to be “the vaulting superstar it-couple” ?
Claire: I did not realize we are…
Nico: I did not even know we were a couple. Just joking.
Nico, how does retirement feel?
Nico: It is good to be at the other side, to be a coach instead of a vaulter. Not so much pressure anymore and fewer restrictions.
Claire: And less abs!
Claire, are Nico and you doing enough fun, yolo things in the relationship or is the balance kind of gone?
Claire: We do quite some yolo things. We train hard but at home we have fun. We like to dance like crazy people. And sometimes Nico uses me like a mob to clean the floor… he runs around the house holding my ankle dragging me around the floor. HE is my OWN private rollercoaster. I think that is quite Yolo.
What are your favourite foods?
Nico: Pasta pistou corse with charcuterie and cheese plate from France with red wine.
Claire: I would say Nico really likes bananas and coconuts.
My favorite food at the moment is guacamole. But I always like to eat the same food a lot for a period and then change. But something that never changes is my love for salty popcorn!!!
What is your favorite yolo exercise?
Nico: El bufanu, it is a shoulder hang on the butt of the horse. You just hold the pad and go head down first and your head is in the horse’s ass… Yolo it is…
Claire: I like jumps. When I was in the team a teammate and I were both standing and we would lift the flyer above our head. For me that was Yolo; the perfect combination of scary and fun. (Claire was a team member of RoyRogers in the Netherlands)
What is your favorite grip for the surcingle, and why?
Nico: It depends on which program I have to do. For compulsory I like L-grip like parallel bars. For freestyle, it does not matter but I like the old simple handles, I call them Mickey because it looks like his ears. In the Mickey handles you have the perfect space for handstand. And it is also easier for the ground jump.
Claire: I like the S-handles but the L and T are also fine. As long as I can fixate my foot in it when I am doing a prince on the neck. And when the handles feel nice, not too thin or too thick I am fine. I just cannot vault with the old handles anymore.
Which exercise do you want to learn/is kind of a goal?
Nico: 360° turn with the left foot on the surcingle.
Claire: I would like to learn a “Devon” – the jump from stand to handstand sliding down.
Do you want vaulting-children?
Claire: Can you buy those somewehe? Or order them online? Then I would like 6 of them to start a team.
Nico: Ask me again in 4 years.
Claire, any goals for the future in vaulting?
Claire: I just want to have fun, and I want to keep evolving as a vaulter. Try to go as far as possible.
Claire, how did you build your Instagram name ‘Heliumbear’ ?
The name Heliumbear came along after a new years party where there were a lot of balloons filled with helium. Of course I found it very Yolo to Inhale the helium and talk with a funny voice #donottrythisathome so that is where the helium comes from. My friend with whom I was at the party always called me Clairebear. So That is the bear part
When are you getting married?
Claire: When Nico asks me.
Nico: When I ask her.
You two are such an inspiring, amazing, cute yolo-vaulting couple!
Thanks a lot and we wish you a very happy future together!