Relishing in the beauty and majestic of a sunny summer day in the Swiss Alps, in a performance that would rival the sheer beauty of this inspiring valley, USA’s two-time Olympic Gold medalists Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh won the women’s gold medal in convincing style to complete a stirring run of seven consecutive victories through a world-class field at the double-gender $600,000 1to1 energy Grand Slam in Gstaad, Switzerland.
The 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour has continued in Gstaad as the world’s top tandems have returned to Switzerland as the double-gender event marks the 13th consecutive visit by the world tour with Gstaad hosting 11 men’s and 12 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 annually.
GOLD ‘N’ GLITTER
In the glistening gold medal match Saturday afternoon in front of an enthusiastic and appreciative packed house at the Gstaad Stadium center court, USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh won the 39th gold medal of their illustrious FIVB SWATCH World Tour by dismantling Netherland’s fifth-seeded Sanne Keizer/Marleen Van Iersel, 21-10, 21-13 in 32 minutes.
USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh, playing in their 76th world tour event with their 62nd final four finish as a team and have won 39 gold medals and 59 total medals including their sixth gold medal in this popular grand slam in a picturesque valley in the Swiss Alps. Ending the tournament with a 7-0 match record, they were only pushed to three sets once in their quarterfinal victory over American compatriots Jennifer Kessy/April Ross, now have a 2-1 record against Netherlands Keizer/Van Iersel.
Netherlands’ Keizer/Van Iersel were playing in their 43rd career tournament and earned their 12th final four finish and first silver medal.
Both matches the two teams played against each other prior to Saturday where three-setters with the Dutch winning the first meeting and the Americans the second.
GRAND GSTAAD GUARANTEES
The fifth of an FIVB-record eight grand slams on the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour schedule, the 1to1 energy Grand Slam, the gold medal teams in each gender will each split $43,500, the silver $29,500, the bronze $23,000 and fourth place $18,400. The women’s medal matches will be held Saturday and the men’s medal matches will be played on Sunday in the raucous Gstaad stadium center court. For more information on the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour or the event, please visit www.fivb.org. For additional information on the 1to1 energy Grand Slam, please visit the event website at www.beachworldtour.ch.
GOLD MEDAL MATCH DETAILS
In what may will be their final event together on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour as May-Treanor, 34, has announced her retirement following the London 2012 Olympic Games in a few weeks, neither set was close as USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh played as spectacular a match as one could in these circumstances and easily built a comfortable cushion quickly in both sets as Netherland’s Keizer/Van Iersel seldom stopped May-Treanor’s attacks or Walsh’s blocks.
The German expression so familiar at this event when the packed stadium pays honor to great blocks by bowing their arms in unison while chanting “mein block, mein block” roared throughout both sets as the Americans played in their final FIVB SWATCH World Tour event before heading to Great Britain in two weeks for the London 2012 Olympic Games where they enter the competition as the two-time Olympic gold medal winning team.
BRONZE MEDAL MATCH RECAP
In the bronze medal match, Switzerland’s eighth-seeded Simone Kuhn/Nadine Zumkehr started slow and came back to thrill their flag-waving home-country fans who they continually brought to their feet in the packed center court stadium to defeat Belgium’s 13th-seeded Katrien Gielen/Liesbeth Mouha in two sets, 21-18, 21-16 in 36 minutes.
Switzerland’s Kuhn/Zumkehr finished their 42nd FIVB SWATCH World Tour event together by earning their third final four and first in Gstaad and won their first bronze medal as they finished the tournament with a 6-1 record. It was also the first medal in the 13-year history of women’s competition in Gstaad. Belgium’s Gielen/Mouha, were playing their 17th career FIVB SWATCH World Tour event together and earned their first final four as a team and first in the career of either athlete with any partner. Switzerland’s Kuhn/Zumkehr now own a career 2-0 record against Belgium’s Gielen/Mouha.
In the semifinals played Saturday morning in front of another enthusiastic packed house at the Gstaad stadium center court, Netherland’s Keizer/Van Iersel hung on to defeat Belgium’s Gielen/Mouha in three sets, 21-19, 19-21 and 15-8 in 51 minutes. To the dismay of the very partisan home-country fans in the second semifinal, USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh overpowered Switzerland’s Kuhn/Zumkehr in twin sets, 21-13, 21-14 in 34 minutes.
For Netherland’s Keizer/Van Iersel and Belgium’s Gielen/Mouha, it was the first time the two teams have met in a FIVB SWATCH World Tour event. The two teams did meet, however earlier this year when the Dutch women beat the Belgian duo at this year’s CEV European championships.
USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh remained undefeated against Switzerland’s Kuhn/Zumkehr as the Americans now have a 6-0 career record against this Swiss team.
THEY SAID IT
After such a successful FIVB career, a visibily emotional USA’s May-Treanor reflected, “It is first of all very exciting to play against such a young, fired-up team and to see them in the finals. We needed to stay balanced against the Dutch, they are always dangerous competitors. For me as an older player, it is fun to see how beach volleyball is growing, I saw them already in their very beginnings on the tour and now they are in the final against us. And most important, I am also happy to see the Netherlands, the Swiss and the USA on the podium. This makes a great picture, that I would like to get used to it.It has been my very last world tour event here as a player. It is just so wonderful up here. I will come back in the crowd next time, cheering for Kerri.”
Remember herself after exhorting the crowd to recognize her teammate which they did, Walsh said, “I am first of all so proud of Misty. It was our last event before London and she just did a great job. Beach volleyball is getting strong, we had lots of qualification teams there that made it all the way to the elimination rounds. There are also some new teams on the tour making it to the top 10 in this tournament. I think the top 24 on the world tour are very strong and that’s the difference we have noticed. But I think this is exactly what we want to see, how beach volleyball is growing. We played very well in this tournament especially against the Dutch team. Now we will go home and practice on things that will make is even better for London. It has been a frustrating season for us without a victory on the tour until today. We are just happy we could make it here at this incredible tournament in this amazing place called Gstaad where we have certainly had a lot of success.”
Netherland’s Van Iersel said afterwards, “Kerri and Misty played so strong. We would have needed our very best performance to beat them, but this was obviously not the case in this match. As good as they played, like the true champions that they are, it was just not possible for us to win.
Following her team’s bronze medal victory, Switzerland’s Kuhn shared, “It’s wonderful to win the bronze medal here in Gstaad. In the first set I had some problems with siding out. If we were behind we reminded each other to cool down and start over which we did when we got behind in the first set. We started serving with more aggressiveness point for point. We played a great tournament and we lost to the gold medal team in the semifinal and it is just an honor to be on the court at the same time as Misty and Kerri.”
FIVB SWATCH WORLD TOUR CALENDAR
The 2012 calendar features 13 women's and 13 men's events, including nine double-gender tournaments, within four of the five FIVB confederations in addition to the approaching 2012 London Olympic Games on July 28 to August 9 in a purpose-built 15,000 stadium on the grounds of the iconic Horse Guards Parde. The 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour is offering $6.32-million in prize money.
ALL ABOARD FOR BERLIN
After the 1to1 energy Grand Slam, the 2012 FIVB Swatch World Tour continues with the next grand slam double-gender event July 10-15 in Berlin (Berlin Grand Slam). The total prize money for each Grand Slam event is $600,000.
LONG FIVB HISTORY
The 1to1 energy Grand Slam, is the 239th women’s event and 279th 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.
photos Janos Schmidt