Women's competition, Gstaad
From 15 June To 19 June 2004

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Gstaad Hosts World's Top Women's Beach Volleyball Players
GSTAAD, SWITZERLAND, June 14, 2004 - The world's top women's beach volleyball players return here for the fifth-straight year as the European competitors seek their first title after seeing tandems from North and South America capture the first four Gstaad events.

The first of five-straight mixed gender events on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, the US$360,000 1to1 Energy Open starts Tuesday for the women with the first of two days of qualifying to determine the final eight entries into the Main Draw.

The women's Main Draw starts Thursday and concludes Saturday when the final two teams compete for the $27,000 first-place prize. The 1to1 Energy Open is the fifth women's event on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour after opening stops in Brazil, Greece, China and Japan.

Part of the Olympic Beach Volleyball process, the 1to1 Energy Open will be the first of four-straight events in Europe before the July 11 deadline to determine the 24 men's teams for the 2004 Athens Games in August. The process concludes with events in Germany, Norway and Spain.

Teams from the United States and Brazil have captured the first four men's 1to1 Energy Open titles, but 2004 could be different as European teams from Australia, China, Greece and host Switzerland have competed in "final fours" this season against the North and South Americans.

Leading the Swiss contingent will be Nicole Schnyder-Benoit and Simone Kuhn, who won the European Championships for women last week after securing their first-ever SWATCH-FIVB World Tour medal two weeks ago in Japan where they defeated Vasso Karadassiou and Efi Sfyri for the bronze medal.

Also competing in the Main Draw for Switzerland are the teams of Dinah Kilchenmann/Lea Schwer and Nadia Erni/Karin Trüssel. The host country will also have five other women's teams competing in the Qualification Tournament with a chance to advance four more tandems to the Main Draw.

Misty May and Kerri Walsh of the United States have won the last two women's events in the Swiss Alps by defeating Brazilians in the finals. The young Americans defeated Shelda Bede and Adriana Behar for the 2002 title before capturing the 2003 gold medal by stopping Ana Paula Connelly and Sandra Pires.

Shelda and Adriana won the first two Gstaad titles in 2000 and 2001 where they defeated American teams in the finals, including May with Holly McPeak in 2000 and Barbra Fontana and Elaine Youngs in 2002. McPeak and Youngs are entered together this season while Fontana will be playing with Jennifer Kessy.

May missed last week's domestic stop in San Diego due to an abdominal strain after seeing her team's 90-match and 15-event string of successes stop June 6 in the AVP Tour's Manhattan Beach by Annett Davis and Jenny Johnson Jordan in the semi-finals.

The 2003 FIVB World Champions after defeating Shelda and Adriana in the Rio de Janeiro finals last October, May and Walsh have won the first two SWATCH-FIVB World Tour events this season in Brazil and Greece. McPeak and Youngs won the China stop with Shelda and Adriana captured the Japan event.