Team Norka: Behind the Scenes

Last week was very special for the vaulting world as we watched the World Championships for Juniors and the European Championships for Seniors. Being the last championships before the WEGs in the USA next year, we can already wonder what consequences these results will hold.

But that wasn’t just it.

Let’s take a look at German vaulting for a bit: Since 2004 only two clubs had the opportunity to represent Germany at international championships (meaning, WEGs, Worlds and Europeans): Ingelsberg ((W)2004, (E)2005, (E)2007, (W)2008, (E)2009, (WG)2010,(W)2016) Neuss ((WG)2006, (E)2011, (W)2012, (E)2013, (WG)2014, (E)2015). A few clubs stand as runner-ups every single year, but one most notably than others: The squad from Cologne (Köln). They have had different names over the years: JRG Köln von der Wintermuhle, Team Bleyer Köln and Köln Dünnwald. Today they are called Team NORKA.

Since 2007 they faced many ups and downs: They were German Champions, changed coaches, there were injuries, new vaulters, new clubs, they performed above 9.0 freestyles, but never managed to beat Neuss and Ingelsberg for the nomination as German national squad.

Until 2017.

When they got it and performed two outstanding apocalyptical/robotic freestyles to secure the European title.

Today’s team still has a lot to do with the squad from ten years ago: Back then Corinna Knauf was an alternate, Miro Rangel was the flyer (one of the best there ever was) and Bamdad Memarian was the main base. Today, both Corinna and Miro are two crucial pieces of the squad and Bamdad is a co-coach, he works together with Patric Looser, world champion, lunger and the owner of Danny Boy, the squad’s equine partner.

We decided to reach out to Bamdad, who is already a longtime friend of our blog and asked him a few questions about their journey to the Europeans and about his new job as a coach. Check it out:

 

1. How was the team’s preparation for the championships? What changed from your usual training routine?

Not much changed from our usual routine, we just enhanced the intensity and scope of our training.
After CHIO Aachen there were only two weeks left to do some last polishes. On the way to the championships, we stopped in Ingelsberg for final training and rehearsal with the whole German team, organized by our national coaches.

2. You transitioned from being an important member of the squad to being a coach. What is your favorite part of this job?

It’s quite a special situation for me because most of my former team members are still part of the squad. I really love and enjoy coaching this team together with Patric where we each have our own roles. My favorite part is seeing them working together as a team and giving their all towards our goal.

What exactly is the difference between your role and Patric’s?

Patric, of course, is mostly responsible for the horse training because he is also the lounger and I do their athletic training… just as an example.

3. When you think about this squad, what do you think is one characteristic that defines them above everything else?

This team is very special because all of the vaulters are very close, they have a great team spirit and are always there for each other even outside of vaulting. Besides that, they are a bunch of crazy people

4. You have been around the team since 2006, facing all the ups and downs, changes, injuries and everything else. How does it feel to finally see the team on the top of the European podium? What lessons did you take out of this trajectory?

It feels like all the accumulated hard work has finally paid off and I am really proud of what we have achieved as a team. Even through the ups and downs we always believed in this team and that one day we are gonna make it. It was really important that we stuck to our path and the way we do things.

5. Germany has two very well-known and experienced national coaches – Ulla Ramge and Kai Vorberg. How was their impact and influence on the team after you were selected?

We had some coaching at home with Kai after CHIO Aachen and also as I said with both of them in Ingelsberg.
Besides that, there was an unbelievable amount of support from them throughout this journey in Ebreichsdorf.

PS: It is important to remind you that Kai Vorberg is Köln’s ex-coach from before Patric Looser took over.

6. Last year you welcomed Thommy Brusewitz into the squad and into the club, how did this happen?

Thommy moved to Cologne to study sports science and we were happy to welcome him into our team because he is a really cool guy and has outstanding vaulting talent.

7. You have a Squad with four male vaulters and many triples are present in your freestyle. How do you balance your routine to make it easier for the horse to carry it all the way through?

Of course in a squad with many male vaulters you face this problem, the way our freestyle is structured is to make it easier for Danny Boy. He always does a great job and we are blessed to have him!

8. WEGs 2018, are you thinking about that already?

I always try to think step by step, so at the moment our focus is to defend our title at the German championship, but of course, this is a big goal for us!

cebelotti

I am a 26 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.