We have talked to Ilona Hannich at the FEI World Cup in Madrid! Read the interview or watch the video on our YouTube channel!

1. Hi Ilona, how are you?

I’m fine, I’m really fine, I just finished the World Cup now and it was a great experience for me and it’s really fun here.

2. So, it was the first time you participated in a World Cup?

Yes, actually this is the first year I qualified and now this was my first World Cup competition ever and it was really great to be part of it and I’m happy to be here.

3. And what do you think about the organisation of the event here in Madrid?

It was really, really good, better than I expected because everyone was so friendly and we just got everything we needed like hotel, the shuttle, the food, it was really cool. And also the atmosphere was so nice even in the arena, everything was beautiful. So, I think I really would like to come back here.

4. How are you doing with your trainings at the moment?

I almost train every day, every evening and I train in Switzerland, Bern, together with Lukas Heppler, and I train like three or four times with the team, I’m also in the team, just on a national level. And I train individual several times a week and we have, of course, conditioning, stretching and I also dance once a week and we have also some gymnastics training, so it’s very broad.

5. So, how many times a week do you train on the horse?

On the horse like four or five times, but always on different horses because one of the horses is only for the team or only pas-de-deux and one is only for individuals.

6. What are your goals for this season?

For the World Cup season I really want to enjoy that I’m here and to show what I can because I really love my freestyle and to show it again is so much fun. And then, I hope to qualify for the final, I hope that works. And for next year, of course, the World Equestrian Games in the US, so that’s a big goal and dream, but it’s also hard to get there, but I will see. I would be happy to be there.

7. Do you consider yourself as a vaulting fashionista?

I wouldn’t say that I’m a fashionista, but I really like sports clothes, so I guess I have more leggings than normal jeans. And one weird leggings I have – I actually got that for Christmas – is one that has printed mountains and so on and I often use it at home, just for stretching or so.

8. Who makes your competition catsuits?

It’s a woman in Switzerland, in the East of Switzerland, and I have learned about her from Simone Jaïser, she also sewed her costumes and then I went to her. It’s really nice because she also draws the things to the music and then I can say “Yes, I like that and that”. It’s a really good combination. And her company is called Syst Design.

9. What model of shoes do you wear and why?

I use the Pro Vauting shoes from Bleyer and now I really like about them that they have the new sole, like the grippy one, because that’s fits more on the pad, I really feel that, but I like that the sole is separate, so I can stretch my foot better.

10. Do you have sponsors?

No, we have some private sponsors from our club and of course, our club, the national center of Bern, is a big supporter for us because they do a lot for us with the horses, we have great facilities, so I guess at the moment this is my biggest support I have, like this national center. They are amazing. But I don’t have like a sponsor for my own. It would be great.

11. Can you list the main products you use for competitions, like surcingle, pad, etc.?

– Main Surcingle: LS-Vario S-handles

– Pad: Carbon and felt pads from Erwin Schuette (considers testing Felt Pro Pad)

– Shoes: Pro Vaulting Shoes with the split sole from Bleyer

12. If you had to invent a new product for the vaulting community, what would you create?

I guess I would create like invisible shin guards, I guess Lukas already said that, but I think it’s a big thing. You always see them so much under the dress. Yes, maybe that.

Check out our Vault & Shop article “Autumn Vibes” where we talk about the great Mercurial Lite shin guards from Nike (25€)

13. What would you improve in the Vaulting World?

Difficult question, I guess I would maybe try to give a little bit more freedom to the athletes to choose what they want to do in their freestyles. Just to be free to be really creative and not like only looking for “Oh, I have to have an R in my freestyle, so I choose one from the catalogue”. It’s You always have to compromise yourself a little bit, so that your scores are good.

And I really love the creative part, the music part, the artistic part of everything, so I guess I would go into a direction of a little bit more freedom there.

14. So, do you think that the format of the World Cup is better than other formats?

I really like the World Cup format because you have a little bit more time to be expressive and to really enjoy what’s going on there and doing your freestyle. So, I love that. And also for watching, I guess it’s really interesting for people who don’t know vaulting. But, of course, I also really love the other competitions.

15. You said that you are in the team, in the national team?

I’m in a team, but not in the team of Lütisburg, so we have our own team in our club, but it’s smaller and we do national competitions and sometimes a CVI, but I’m not with Lütisburg, it’s quite a distance.

16. Do you enjoy more individual or team work?

I guess I need it both, as an individual I really love that I can go on international competitions, that I have all those possibilities and I can just really choose what I like to do, but I love being in a team, it’s really a different feeling and it’s my second family and it’s so important to me. So that’s just a big part for me.

17. Do you have a special surprise/announcement for us?

Maybe that I will also start doing Pas-de-Deux, with a girl from my team. And we just started, it’s fun.

18. So, when are we going to see you as a Pas-de-Deux?

Maybe next year, I don’t know if we will go to CVIs, let’s see, maybe the CVI in Bern because it’s our home competition. I guess we will go there.

19. But you do it just for fun?

Yeah, I mean, it’s the first season, so we will see what it looks like, but at the moment it’s really for fun.