Lausanne, Switzerland, June 27, 2006 - The SWATCH-FIVB World Tour grand slam series continues this week in the “oil capital” of Norway as Stavanger hosts the world’s best Beach Volleyball players for the eighth annual ConocoPhillips Grand Slam on the dockside courts in Vagen Harbour.
The ConocoPhillips Grand Slam is the second of seventh-straight weeks of SWATCH double gender competition as Stavanger stages a grand slam event for the second season with US$580,000 in prize money. The season’s first grand slam event was held last week in the Swiss Alps where the teams of Emanuel Rego/Ricardo Santos of Brazil and Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh of the United States captured the men’s and women’s titles, respectively, in Gstaad.
While May-Treanor and Walsh miss the ConocoPhillips Grand Slam due to a domestic event, Emanuel and Ricardo return Stavanger seeking their fourth-straight Vagen Harbour gold medal after defeating Benjamin Insfran and Harley Marques in the 2005 All-Brazilian finale.
Emanuel has collected gold medals in six of his seven Stavanger appearances as he won the 1999 inaugural event with Jose Loiola, and the 2001 and 2002 titles with Tande Ramos. Emanuel and Loiola placed third in 2000 when Ricardo and ZeMarco de Melo captured the gold medal by defeating Benjamin and Marcio Araujo in the finals.
“I love playing in Stavanger,” said the 33-year old Emanuel, who has won $92,000 for his seven appearances in Vagen Harbour. “The fans are great and the promoter does an excellent job in creating a Beach Volleyball atmosphere on the docks. I can not wait to see what they do next.”
The “new” twist for the 2006 ConocoPhillips Grand Slam is a pair of Beach Volleyball courts with 600 seats on a barge. In addition, World Events of Stavanger have increased the size of the centre court, which is known as the “Fenway Park” of Beach Volleyball stadiums due to its uniqueness.
With the Chinese medaling in each of the first four events this season, the young Asians figure to again test SWATCH point’s leaders Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca of Brazil for the fifth Stavanger women’s title. In addition, defending ConocoPhillips Grand Slam champions Vassiliki Arvaniti and Vasso Karadassiou return after the Greeks defeated Juliana and Larissa for the 2005 title.
Wang Jie and Tian Jia have placed third, second, seventh and third to pace the Chinese women’s effort this season, but two younger players have scored semi-final wins over Juliana and Larissa to play for SWATCH-FIVB World Tour titles in Shanghai and Athens.
As a 17-year old, Xue Chen captured the Shanghai title with 21-year old Zhang Xi by defeating the 21-year old Wang Jie and 25-year old Tian Jia in the finals. The next week in Athens, 20-year old Ji Linjun claimed the silver medal in Athens with 23-year old Wang Lu after losing to reigning Olympic and World champions May-Treanor and Walsh in the finals.
Following this week’s event, SWATCH-FIVB World Tour stages “open” events in Marseille, Montreal and St. Petersburg before concluding the grand slam stop circuit with stops in France (Paris, July 25-30) and Austria (Klagenfurt, August 1-6).