Village Gstaad, Switzerland, July 5, 2011—Captive to the beauty, serenity and overpowering ambience of this quaint Swiss village, eight teams from eight countries victoriously advanced from a 32-team qualification tournament Tuesday to the women’s 32-team main draw Wednesday at the $600,000 FIVB Swatch 1to1 energy Grand Slam Gstaad 2011.
The world’s top beach volleyball tandems are back in Switzerland as the double-gender event marks the 12th consecutive visit by the world tour with Gstaad hosting 10 men’s and 11 previous women’s events. Village Gstaad is nestled in a magnificent valley in Southwestern Switzerland at 3,440-feet (1,050 meters) above sea-level, the highest altitude a FIVB Swatch World Tour stop is held every year.
The eight countries that won two rounds of qualifying matches Tuesday to advance to the start women’s main draw on Wednesday were Austria, Brazil, China, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway and Russia.
The women’s single-elimination qualification tournament Tuesday determined the final eight spots in the 32-team main draw that will start on Wednesday with two days of round-robin pool play.
The fourth of seven “major” tournaments on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour schedule, the FIVB Swatch 1to1 energy Grand Slam Gstaad 2011 began with women’s country quota matches on Monday, continues with the single elimination qualification tournament on Tuesday to determine the final eight spots in the 32-team main draw on Wednesday through Friday. The women’s semifinals and medal matches will 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 country quota matches on Tuesday.
The eight teams from eight countries who have earned the right for two more days of pool play were Austria’s top-seeded qualification team Barbara Hansel/Sara Montagnolli, Brazil’s third-seeded Vivian Cunha/Taiana Lima, China’s 22nd-seeded Yuanyuan Ma/Fan Wang, Finland’s second-seeded sisters Emilia and Erika Nystrom, Germany’s 12th-seeded Karla Borter/Britta Buthe, Italy’s seventh-seeded Dianiela Gioria/Biulia Momoli, Norway’s 20th-seeded Kathrine Maaseide/Ingrid Torlen and Russia’s eighth-seeded Anastasia Vasina/Anna Vozakova.
To earn their spot in the main draw of this amazing event, Austria’s Hansel/Montagnolli defeated Poland’s 16th-seeded Katarzyna Urban/Karolina Sowala, 21-14, 21-18 in 38 minutes in their second round advancement match. Playing both of their rounds on the Gstaad center court, in the opening round of qualification Hansel/Montagnolli eliminated Vanuatu’s Miller Elwin/Linline Matauatu, 21-15, 21-17 in 33 minutes.
“Gstaad is a very relaxed tournament here, the people are very friend and because we have been here several times we already know quite a few people,” Montagnolli remarked after her Austrian team advanced to the women’s main draw. “It’s unbelievable that so many people came here already to watch the qualification tournament. You can feel that energy on the court. For us it was very important to get through the qualification rounds because we’ve had to go through qualifying at the last three tournaments and we hope we can go far enough here in Gstaad to put us back in the main draw for the next event. We had two challenging matches today and our experience helps us to win both of them.”
Both Brazil’s Cunha/Lima and Germany’s Borger/Buthe both had to win a country quota playoff match Monday before their two wins today put them each at 3-0 in the tournament so far. In their final win Tuesday, Cunha/Lima beat Canada’s 14th-seeded Heather Bansley/Elizabeth Maloney, 21-14, 23-21 in 35 minutes while Borger/Buthe earned their final win over China’s fifth-seeded Ying Huang/Yuan Yue, 21-19, 21-18 in 39 minutes.
After two main draw placements as host country, China’s surprise team advancing to their first main draw in six tournaments together was Yuanyuan Ma/Fan Wang, who earned their spot with their second win of the day, beating Netherland’s sixth-seeded Madelein Meppelink/Marloes Wesselink, 20-22, 21-13 and 15-10 in 51 minutes. Wang is just 17 years old, making her one of the youngest women’s main draw qualifiers in the history of the FIVB Swatch World Tour.
Finland’s Nystrom sisters moved forward with their second round qualification win over USA’s 18th-seeded Brittany Hochevar/Lisa Rutledge, 21-18, 21-18 in 35 minutes while Italy’s Gioria/Momoli advanced with their win over Great Britain’s Zara Dampney, Shauna Mullin, 26-24, 21-23 and 15-11 in 54 minutes, the longest match of the qualification tournament.
Norway moved ahead to main draw pool play with their win over Russia’s third-seeded Ekaterina Khomyakova/Evgenia Ukolova, 21-17, 21-14 in 29 minutes, and Russia’s Vasina/Vozakova earned their spot in the main draw by beating Netherland’s ninth-seeded Roos Van der Hoeven/Jantine Van der Vlist, 21-15, 16-21 and 15-10 in 43 minutes.
The talented field includes the entire final four finishers from both genders from last year as well as the eight of the last nine women’s gold medalists in Gstaad and the last eight men’s gold medal winners although five are playing with new teammates at the extremely popular event and venue.
In last year’s women’s competition, Brazil’s Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca won gold, with silver going to Germany’s Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig, the bronze to china’s Chen Xue/Xi Zhang and fourth place to Brazil’s Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes.
Representing eight years, the three returning women’s gold medal winners in Gstaad are Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa (2005 and 2010), Brazil’s Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes (2009) and Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh (2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2007). May-Treanor/Walsh’s victory in 2007 was for their third FIVB Swatch World Championship.
Last year’s men’s final four finishers in Gstaad were USA’s Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers (gold), Germany’s David Klemperer/Eric Koreng (silver), Brazil’s Marcio Araujo/Ricardo (Bronze), and Poland’s Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel (fourth place).
A total of 162 teams from 40 countries (89 men’s teams from 33 countries and 73 women’s teams from 30 countries) have entered the 1 to 1 Energy Grand Slam (as of July 3, 2011), including Angola (1 men, 0 women) Australia (2,3), Austria (5,3), Belarus (1,0), Belgium (2,1), Brazil (8,6), Bulgaria (0,1), Canada (3,3), China (2,3), Czech Republic (2,3), Denmark (1,0), Estonia (1,0), Finland (0,1), France (2,1), Georgia (1,1), Germany (6,8), Great Britain (1,2), Greece (2,2), Italy (5,3), Japan (2,2), Kazakhstan (2,1), Latvia (2,0), Mauritius (0,1), Mexico (0,1), Netherlands (5,4), New Zealand (1,0), Norway (3,1), Poland (2,2), Portugal (2,0), Russia (4,3), Slovak Republic (0,1), Slovenia (0,2), Spain (2,2), Sweden (1,2), Switzerland (7,4), Turkey (2,0), United States (4,5), Uruguay (1,0), Vanuatu (0,1), 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 1to1 energy Grand Slam Gstaad 2011, the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour continues with one more Grand Slam double-gender event July 11-16 in Moscow (Moscow Grand Slam). The total prize money for each Grand Slam event is $600,000.
The FIVB Swatch 1to1 energy Grand Slam Gstaad 2011, the 225th women’s event and 264th 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.beachworldtour.ch.