Stavanger, Norway, June 30, 2011—Enjoying a respite from chilly and rainy Nordic weather of the past two days, Thursday was a new day at the quaint Vaagen Harbour venue as nine teams from seven countries blasted their way through two pool play matches undefeated as the men’s 32-team main draw began at the $600,000 FIVB Swatch ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011. The world’s top beach volleyball tandems, all competing in the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour are back in Norway as the double-gender event marks the 13th consecutive visit by the world tour with Stavanger hosting its first men’s event in 1999 and its first women’s event in 2002.
Brazil and Germany each had two teams win both of their round robin matches as the leaders in seven of the eight four-team pools are unbeaten after the first day of play. Countries on Thursday that had one team win both of its matches were China, Latvia, Netherlands, Russia and Spain.
The 32-team men’s main draw that started on Thursday with two days of round-robin pool play, with each team playing three matches over the two days to determine the final 24 teams that will head to the single-elimination bracket play for three rounds on Saturday with the semifinals and medal matches to be played on Sunday. The top three teams in each pool will advance.
Brazil’s tandems who are unbeaten are top-seeded Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego to lead Pool J and third-seeded Marcio Araujo/Ricardo Santos to lead Pool L. Germany’s two undefeated duos are fourth-seeded Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann in Pool M and fifth-seeded David Klemperer/Eric Koreng.
The other three pool leaders who ended day one with two wins and no losses are China’s eighth-seeded Xu/Wu in Pool Q, Latvia’s 11-seeded Martins Plavins/Janis Smedins and Netherland’s 18th-seeded Reinder Nummerdor/Richard Schull.
With all four teams tied with 1-1 records after the first day of pool play, Brazil’s seventh-seeded Benjamin Insfran/Bruno Oscar Schmidt leads Pool P based on tiebreaker adjustments.
Also undefeated with 2-0 marks on Thursday but second in Pool L and Pool O respectively based on tiebreaker rules are Russia’s 14th-seeded Yaroslav Koshakarev/Kanstanin Semenov and Spain’s sixth-seeded Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera. Russia’s Yaroslav/Semenov will decide the Pool L winner when they meet Brazil’s Marcio Araujo/Ricardo and Spain’s Gavira/Herrera will determine the Pool O winner when they challenge Latvia’s Plavins/Smedins.
In a major seed breakthrough during Thursday’s men’s pool play, Netherland’s Nummerdor/Schull defeated USA’s second-seed Olympic champions Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers, 21-17, 21-14 in 34 minutes. The Dutchmen also beat the Americans the last time they meet during pool play three weeks ago at the Beijing Grand Slam.
In one of the most exciting Vaagen Harbour center court matches, Norway’s Tarjei Skarlund/Martin Spinnangr, with a ‘host nation’ seed of ninth, entertained several thousand Norwegian fans in defeating Switzerland’s 24th-seeded Sebastian Chevallier/Sascha Heyer in two overtime sets, 22-20, 25-20 in 50 minutes. Skarlund/Spinnangr won the silver medal in this event last year.
Said Skarlund afterwards, “We didn’t mean to make it so exciting, but this is how beach volleyball is on the FIVB Swatch World Tour today—close matches with many scored points both ways. And yes, it feels good, especially right here in Stavanger. Heyer/Chevallier are a strong team.”
Echoing the sentiments of his teammate, Spinnangr said, “Tarjei makes me feel safe, even if I do make some mistakes. He kept us in the match with his serves and strong defensive play.”
The third of seven “major” tournaments on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour schedule, the FIVB Swatch ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011 began with women’s country quota matches on Monday, single elimination qualification tournament Tuesday to determine the final eight spots in the 32-team main draw on Wednesday through Friday, followed by the women’s single-elimination bracket play that has the semifinals and medal matches to be played Saturday with the men’s “final four” matches Sunday as the winning pairs in each gender share the $43,500 first-place prizes. The men’s schedule mirrors the women, starting one day later with main draw pool play started Thursday. Silver medalists in each gender will split $29,500 while bronze medal winners will divide $23,000 and the fourth place finishers will receive $18,400.
The talented field includes the entire final four finishers from both genders from last year as well as the last five women’s gold medalists in Stavanger and the last three men’s gold medal winners at the extremely popular event and venue.
Last year’s men’s final four finishers in Stavanger were Germany’s David Klemperer/Eric Koreng (gold), Norway’s Tarjei Skarlund/Martin Spinnangr (silver), USA’s Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers (bronze) and Spain’s Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera (fourth place).
A total of 170 teams from 41 countries (94 men’s teams from 34 countries and 76 women’s teams from 30 countries) are participating in the FIVB Swatch ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011—Angola, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu, and Venezuela.
The 2011 calendar features 15 women's and 14 men's events, including 12 double-gender tournaments, within all five FIVB confederations plus one special 24-team single-gender women’s test event held August 9-14 at London’s Horse Guards Parade, the venue for beach volleyball at the 2012 London Olympic Games. The 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour is offering $7.64-million in prize money. Twelve of the tournaments are combined men's and women's events, including the World Championships and all six Grand Slam stops.
After the FIVB Swatch ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011, the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour continues with two more Grand Slam double-gender events: July 4-9 in Gstaad, Switzerland (1 to 1 Energy Grand Slam) and July 11-16 in Moscow (Moscow Grand Slam). The total prize money for each Grand Slam event is $600,000.
The FIVB Swatch ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011 is the 224th women’s event and 263rd men’s event on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour (open, grand slam, Olympic and Goodwill). The first men’s FIVB Swatch World Tour event was played February 17-22, 1987 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the first women’s event was played August 14-16, 1992 at Almeria, Spain.
For more information on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour or the event, please visit www.fivb.org. For information on the FIVB Swatch ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011, please visit the event website at www.wtstavanger.com.