Gstaad, Switzerland June 17-21 2003
ALPINE SCORCHER FOR BEACH VOLLEYBALL FANS
The Swiss Alps are more usually associated with downhill skiing and snowboarding, but for the fourth year running the World Beach Volleyball Tour returns to Gstaad for the 2003 Swiss Open, the second stop on the Women's Beach Volleyball World Tour.
With its Alpine backdrop and chalet-style setting, last year's event defied the usual weather conditions as the world's elite players battled it out in bright sunshine and soaring temperatures. Indeed, with the mercury soaring, the capacity crowd took a delight in being cooled down with the fire hose on the final day.
Gstaad marries a glitzy-ritzy setting, well familiar to jet-setting winter tourists with the alpine 'beach' atmosphere during this weekend that has long been established as a 'must' in the Swiss sporting calendar.
This year all eyes will be on the American pair of Kerri Walsh and Misty May, who won the title last year and the hearts of the loyal Gstaad supporters. The dominant duo, who won five events in 2002 on their way to top spot on the rankings, defeated Brazil's Adriana Behar-Shelda 17-21, 17-21 in the final to secure their second winner's
cheque of the season.
"I don't think that was our best match - we are on the second floor and there are many floors to go," a modest May said after the presentation ceremony. Indeed she and Kerri 'climbed' a few more 'floors' as they swept through the 2002 season in a blaze of glory to mark themselves as medal favourites for the Athens 2004 Olympics.
"We want to be number one in the world and therefore we have to perform well in every tournament," added the American after dropping just one set in Gstaad.
Third place went to the 2002 Olympic champions Kerri Pottharst and Natalie Cook, winners of the bronze medal in Madrid two weeks earlier, and Gstaad fans will miss the exuberant Pottharst, gold medallist from Sydney 2000, who announced her retirement at 37 just weeks before the start of the season. Cook returns this year with new partner and fellow Australian Nicole Sanderson who will be going for the winner's cheque and the unique prize of traditional cowbells, awarded only at Gstaad.
After the Swiss Open the Women's Beach Volleyball World Tour moves on Berlin for the $300,000 German Open, the first Grand Slam event of the season.
1. Walsh-May (USA)
with Kerri Walsh and Misty May
Misty May - Biography
Kerri Walsh - Biography
2. Adriana Behar-Shelda (BRA)
with Shelda Bruno Bede - Profile
with Adriana Behar - Biography
3. Pottharst-Cook (AUS)