Lausanne, Switzerland, July 30 2007
With the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour returning to Klagenfurt for the 11-straight year, the A1 Grand Slam features double gender event for the seventh-consecutive season. Americans Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers return to defend their 2006 Lake Woerthersee and enter this week’s play as the newly-crowned SWATCH-FIVB world champions after winning the title this past Sunday in Gstaad, Switzerland.
The women’s competition will also feature last Saturday’s world title winners Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the United States, who captured their third-straight gold medal at the SWATCH-FIVB World Championships along with leaving the Swiss Alps village with a 22-match international Beach Volleyball winning streak this season.
Both American teams will be “guarding against an emotional let down in Klagenfurt,” according to Rogers, who joined Walsh in being named the SWATCH most outstanding players at the world championships. “We’ll have a little time to rest and enjoy our gold medals, but we’ll be back playing Thursday in another big event during the Olympic qualifying process. It would be great to have time between major events, but that is not possible in our sport right now.”
All five “major” events on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar were scheduled during a seven-week period starting with back-to-back stops in Paris and Stavanger, Norway in June. The Berlin grand slam was sandwiched between two “open” events in Montreal and Marseille followed by the Gstaad world finals and this week’s A1 Grand Slam.
Wednesday’s qualifiers will each determine the final eight entries for both the men’s and women’s Main Draws that start Thursday. Following pool play, the top three tandems in each men’s and women’s group will advance to a 24-team single-elimination bracket. The women’s finale will be Saturday and the men’s medal matches Sunday as the winning teams will share the $43,500 first-place prizes.
While Dalhausser and Rogers will be defending their A1 Grand Slam title after defeating Brazilians Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos 21-19 and 21-17 in the 2006 Lake Woerthersee finale, May-Treanor and Walsh will be seeking to regain the Austrian gold medal after finishing fifth last season in Klagenfurt where the Americans were eliminated by China’s Jia Tian and Jie Wang.
Prior to last season, Walsh stood atop the Lake Woerthersee fourth-straight years by winning the 2002, 2003 and 2005 events with May-Treanor. With May-Treanor sidelined in 2004 before the Athens Olympics, Walsh teamed with Rachel Wacholder to win the Klagenfurt gold.
The 2006 Austrian fifth was the Americans lowest finish on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour since a 2004 stop in Berlin. May-Treanor, who celebrated her 30th birthday Monday, had to forfeit a pair matches to place 17th with Walsh due to an abdominal strain that forced her to miss grand slam events in Norway, Marseille and Klagenfurt.
Before Dalhausser and Rogers’ win in the Swiss Alps, Brazilian men had captured the first three “major” tests in 2007. Emanuel and Ricardo won the Paris gold medal before Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes captured back-to-back grand slam titles in Stavanger and Berlin.
Led by May-Treanor and Walsh, American women have won all four “major” events in 2007. The reigning Olympic champions captured gold in Paris and Berlin before Saturday’s world championship title where May-Treanor and Walsh defeated Tian and Wang for the title.
With May-Treanor and Walsh placing third in Norway with their only international setback this season to the Chinese pair in the semi-finals, Jen Boss and April Ross claimed the Stavanger crown by upsetting SWATCH tour leader Tian and Wang for the gold medal.
The A1 Grand Slam is the fourth of eight-straight SWATCH-FIVB World Tour events in Europe through the middle of September. Before established SWATCH stops in St. Petersburg and the Mazury region of Poland, the FIVB will stage new events in Norway (Kristiansand) and on the Finnish isle of Aland in the two weeks following Klagenfurt.
Fourth is no good enough