Gstaad, Switzerland, July 4, 2016 -For a record 17th-straight season, the FIVB World Tour returns to this Swiss Alps village as the US$800,000 Gstaad Major begins here Tuesday with the women’s qualifier and concluding this coming Sunday with the men’s medal match.
Starting with a women’s event in 2000 and adding the men’s competition the next year, Gstaad will be hosting a SWATCH Major Series event for the second-season where men’s and women’s qualification will be staged Tuesday. Eight women’s teams will advance from the qualifier Tuesday to the Main Draw where play starts Wednesday with pool play.
The men’s preliminary rounds will end Wednesday with eight more qualifiers moving on to Thursday’s “money” rounds where the gender will play two rounds of pool play matches. The women will play their final pool play matches Thursday morning with the first-round of elimination bracket action in the afternoon.
The women’s final two elimination rounds will be Friday to set the lineup for the “final four” matches Saturday. The men will play one elimination round Friday afternoon and two more on Saturday to advance pairs to Sunday’s semi-finals and medal match schedule. The winning teams in the FIVB World Tour event will share the $57,000 first-place prize.
Once play starts Tuesday, Gstaad will break the tie with Klagenfurt for most consecutive seasons of hosting a FIVB World Tour event as the Austrian lakeside tournament’s consecutive streak was 16 with events from 1997 through 2012. With Tuesday’s first serve, Gstaad will then tie Klagenfurt and Rio de Janeiro in hosting the most FIVB events with the Austrian site regaining leadership at the end of the month when it hosts is 18th world tour event.
While Klagenfurt and Rio have staged more men’s events than Gstaad over 17 each, Gstaad will now host the women for the 17th-time. The village’s first FIVB World Tour event was women’s only tournament in 2000 where legendary Brazilians Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede won the inaugural gold medals. Men’s play was added to the competition schedule in 2001 with American Stein Metzger and Kevin Wong topping the podium after qualifying for the Main Draw.
Led by Brazil and the United States, pairs from six countries have topped the podiums in Gstaad highlighted in 2004 when Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel delighted the home crowd by winning the men’s gold medal match over Markus Dieckmann of Jonas Reckermann of Germany. Heuscher and Kobel, the bronze medalists at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, also placed third in Gstaad at the 2003 event.
The only other Swiss men’s medals in Gstaad were netted by the legendary Laciga brothers (Martin and Paul) when they lost the 2001 finale to Metzger and Wong. The only women’s podium placement was a bronze medal finish by Simone Kuhn and Nadine Zumkehr in 2012.
After sweeping the Gstaad gold medals in 2015, Brazilian men and women teams have combined for 15 total titles, including eight for women. Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca won the women’s gold medal last July with Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt topping the men’s podium the next day for the South American country.
The United States has won five men’s and six women’s gold medals in Gstaad with German pairs topping the 2009 men’s (Julius Brink/Reckermann) and 2014 women’s (Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler) podiums. Winning once in Gstaad was a men’s team from Argentina (2002, Martin Conde/Mariano Baracetti) a women’s tandem from China (2013, Chen Xue/Xi Zhang).
Gstaad also hosted the 2007 FIVB World Championships where the Americans captured both gold medals. With both pairs also winning Olympic gold in Beijing the next year, Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers were the men’s world champs in 2007 with Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings the women’s titlists.
Host Switzerland will have two women’s pairs in the 17-team qualifier with three tandems already placed in the Main Draw. Playing in the preliminary rounds Tuesday for Switzerland will the women’s pairs of Nicole Eiholzer/Dunja Gerson and Laura Caluori/Elena Steinemann.
Swiss women in the Main Draw are Rio Olympic qualifiers Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Vergé-Dépré and Joana Heidrich/Nadine Zumkehr. Nina Betschart and Tanja Hüberli, who have placed fifth for Switzerland in the last two FIVB World Tour stops in Poland (Olsztyn) and Croatia (Porec), received a “wild card” for the women’s Main Draw.
Scheduled to play for Switzerland in the men’s qualifier are Fabio Berta/Luca Müller, Adrian Heidrich/Gabriel Kissling and Quentin Métral/Michiel Zandbergen. Swiss placed in the men’s Main Draw were Nico Beeler/Alexei Strasser, Philip Gabathuler/Mirco Gerson and Jonas Kissling/Marco Krattiger.