The Jousting Life

Friday, September 14, 2012

An Interview with Alix van Zijl: Competitor at "The Grand Tournament in Sankt Wendel"

Alix van Zijl was one of the competitors at “The Grand Tournament in Sankt Wendel”. It is interesting, though not significant, that she was the only female competitor.

Alix van Zijl(photo from Facebook)

In jousting, as in many equestrian sports, competitors are not separated by gender, and both male and female participants must meet the same requirements. For that, and other reasons, the organizers of "The Grand Tournament in Sankt Wendel"(GTSW) chose not bring attention to the fact that one of the participants was female.

Alix was kind enough to answer a few questions about her experiences during the GTSW.

How did you become involved with “The Grand Tournament of Sankt Wendel”?

Alix: I've known Arne Koets for a long time, and he asked if I could supply two jousting horses for Sankt Wendel, and if I I wouldn’t mind bringing my armour along as a spare rider. In the end, there were two people who couldn't make it for the melee, so I could join.

Tell me the name of and a little about your history/relationship with the horse you rode in the GTSW.

Alix: The horse I rode is a 5-year old Andalusian stallion, called Torero. I bought him a year ago in Spain. He is a very willing horse, and very sensitive, which makes him a charm to ride in the melee. You just have to think what you want, and he'll do it for you. In the joust, he goes straight as an arrow and as fast as well.

Alix van Zijl on Torero(photo by Hanno van Harten)

Please describe the person, place or thing that made the biggest impression on you when you first arrived at/during the days leading up to the GTSW.

Alix: I was really impressed by the whole group, how much people still want to learn, even though they are in the top 10 already. Most impressed I was with Petter Ellingsen, who had to change horses on the (very early) morning of the first show day.

Petter Ellingsen(photo by Oliver Dunsch)

He did a wonderful job, adjusting fast to the horse, and growing in the joust itself, ending with a spectacular double hit with Per Estein on the last day.

Please describe one or two of your favorite non competition related moments during the time you were in Sankt Wendel.

Alix: Well…meet Arto Fama, and you’ll know enough about the joking around.

Arto Fama(left) and Max Knegjens(right)(photo by Hanno van Harten)

Please describe one or two of your favorite moments during the competition of “The Grand tournament of Sankt Wendel”.

Alix: I was more than impressed by the riding of Joram van Essen during the last melee. I know his horse Zogo very well, and I know he is a bit “stug” as we say it in Dutch, a bit unflexible. The fact that he succeeded to do as an example: flying canter lead changes, not once but regularly, is impressive.

Alix van Zijl(left) and Joram van Essen(right) ride together during the final melee at "The Grand Tournament of Sankt Wendel"(photo by Wendy Van Harten-de Bruin)

And my ears are still ringing from the blows I got on the second day. Without a doubt, I was out. So much fun!

What was it like to be the only female in the competition?

Alix: It is an honour to be part of a group with such high standards. The fact that I am a female doesn't really count with these guys, which suits me very well. In a way it doesn’t matter, as long as one is safe and does a good job, has the right attitude and has a good armour, one is welcome. That is the way it should be. I do my best to be strong enough to handle the lances and the weapons just for the horses' and riders' sake alone.

Left to right, Wouter Nicolai, Per Estein Prois-Rohjell, Alix van Zijl, Andreas Wenzel, Joram van Essen, Wolfgang Krischke, Arne Koets, Toby Capwell, Petter Ellingsen, Dominic Sewell and Luke Binks(photo by Hanno van Harten)

Why did you compete in the melee, but not in the joust?

Alix: For the joust with solids I am not ready, yet. My armour needs a grand bascinet, not an armet[types of helmets], and the arret[lance rest] wasn’t even attached, yet. My horse and I can present a good target during the joust, but for lowering the lance safely… I need this winter to get ready and safe. If Arne would have lacked a jouster, I wouldn’t have minded to be a target, but hitting others… No, not yet.

How did you feel about keeping your gender hidden from the audience?

Alix: I didn’t really mind. I don’t like the attention if it’s just about my being a woman… If it’s about my skill that is a different thing altogether.

Arne Koets was chosen by the Ladies Jury as the “Winner of the Prize for Highest Bravery”. Why do you think he was chosen?

Alix: Arne won that title with good reason. He was bothered by hurting Joram, and showed it this way. It is the way he jousts/fights/plays.

Arne Koets(photo by Rozemarijn Keuning)

Andreas Wenzel won the “Joust of the Squires”. What would you like to say about his performance during the tournament?

Alix: It is impressive what Andreas could do together with his horse. Sigi is not an easy horse, and Andreas just did it – the joust, the melee – as if he had been working with that horse for years, and I know for a fact that he hasn’t.

Andreas Wenzel on the Spanish stallion Sigismund(photo by Oliver Dunsch)

Even though he was injured and unable to complete the competition, Joram van Essen still won the overall tournament, in part due to other competitors contributing to his score. Arne Koets gave Joram enough of his own points to put Joram in first place ahead of Arne. Please explain how and why that happened and what part you played in this point exchange.

Alix: Joram won with thanks to Arne and Petter, but I think it was very well deserved. His horse was very good during the joust, well trained. He hit regularly and safely.

Joram van Essen jousts on his Murgese stallion Zogo(photo from the GTSW website)

And during the melee he fought well too, with the last melee as a beautiful example how good.

What would you like to say about/to the squires, ground crew and/or others who helped you during your participation in the GTSW.

Alix: The ground crew did a marvelous job. And as I was grooming as well, I know how short an hour is to change from jousting gear on a horse to melee gear. That was honestly amazing!

Alix rests between acting as both competitor and ground crew
(photo by Hanno van Harten)

What would you like to say about/to Arne Koets and the other organizers of the GTSW?

Alix: It is great that this tournament came to be! It was very well organized, not just the joust itself, but everything around it as well.

What would you like to say about your overall experience at the GTSW?

Alix: Againagainagain!

Alix van Zijl(photo by Hanno van Harten)

No comments:

Post a Comment