7 August 2016

Piber: Dieter Lauterbach is the new World Champion (updated)

After four days of top-level sport, which came to an exciting finale in the obstacle driving competition, Germany’s Dieter Lauterbach won the individual gold medal at the FEI World Single Driving Championships in Piber, Austria, ahead of Weronika Kwiatek from Poland and Dutch driver Saskia Siebers. The German team won the Nations competition, Poland took home the silver medal and Switzerland claimed bronze.

Photo: Krisztina Horváth

After the first horse inspection, 75 horses from 23 nations were allowed to start in the dressage of the ninth edition of the FEI World Single Driving Championships at the Lipizzaner Stud Farm in Piber-Köflach, Austria.

The first half of the competitors’ field drove their dressage test under lovely weather circumstances in the sand arena in Piber. USA’s Suzy Stafford took the provisional lead after the first day with her Morgan horse Peace of Mind. She was beaten on the second day by 2014 bronze medallist Marlen Fallak from Germany, whose scored 0,64 points better with her horse Tessa FST. The third place went to Luxemburg with Franz Schiltz driving his horse Frodo, who won the gold medal in the FEI World Championships for Young Driving Horses in 2015. Bad luck for title defender Wilbrord van den Broek from the Netherlands who was eliminated after dressage because of an old injury in the mouth of his 20-year-old horse Oscar.
The second dressage day was tortured with heavy rain showers and the competition was stopped for around two hours in the afternoon to allow the arena to dry sufficiently for the remaining three drivers to complete their tests.

The cones course designed by World Championship course designer Gábor Fintha from Hungary was challenging but doable, which was showed by the nine clear rounds. This resulted in a beautiful end of this Championship, which took place in near to perfect circumstances.

World Championship debutant Saskia Siebers drove a clear round and moved up to bronze. Winning the bronze medal came as a complete surprise for her: “This was my first World Championship as a competitor and I did not know what to expect. I had hoped for a top-ten placing, but this is fantastic!”

Marathon winner Weronika Kwiatek collected time penalties in the obstacle driving competition, but this did not endanger her silver medal: “I won the marathon here last year and again this year. The heavy terrain suits my horse Bartnik, he has a very good condition and a lot of power.”

Dieter Lauterbach won the golden medal. He did not have any knockdowns and only a little over one penalty point for exceeding the time allowed: “This has been a wonderful event with fair sport and a great atmosphere. I have won already several medals, but to win individual gold is yet again something special.”

In the nations competition the Germans were unbeatable as well this time and in the end they had a comfortable advantage to Poland. Switzerland won bronze with just 0,41 penalty points advantage to France.
Piber will go into the history books as a very successful World Championship, which offered an excellent basis for driving sport at the highest level.

Click here for the results.

Click here for the photos.

Photo: Krisztina Horváth

Due to the heavy rain on Friday, it was decided on Saturday morning to take one obstacle out of the competition. The marathon in the hills around Piber were nevertheless very challenging and demanded a good condition from the horses, especially when the sun came out during the day.
Weronika Kwiatek won with her 12-year old Hessen gelding Bartnik the marathon ahead of her brother Bartlomiej. World Championship debutant Stefan Ulrich from Switzerland surprised friend and enemy by driving his Pamino U to the third place. The 18-year-old Ulrich was assisted on the carriage by his father, international successful four-in-hand driver Werner Ulrich. Dieter Lauterbach finished fourth, with which he took the lead in the individual standings His advantage to Weronika Kwiatek however was only 0,2 penalty points and the following competitors were all lying very close to each other, which meant nothing was decided yet.
Germany was still in the lead in the nations competition with 5 points advantage to Poland and France, but with Switzerland breathing in their neck.

Suzy Stafford, in second position after dressage, was unfortunately eliminated in obstacle three after she took a wrong gate.