Gstaad Major

Gstaad Major: Post-World Champs Hangover Setting in on Men’s Side

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Photo credit: FIVB

One by one it claimed them, the hangover of World Championships. The German kids who nearly won the whole thing, Clemens Wickler and Julius Thole, didn’t even play in Gstaad.

Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb, the split-blocking and, weirdly, sort of the American underdog team from the States, were just eight points from making the finals before Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy put an end to their run. After a battle with Norwegians Anders Mol and Christian Sorum for bronze, which they lost, Bourne and Crabb failed to even break pool in Gstaad.

And about those Russians? The World Champs? Knocked out in the first round of elimination by Brazilians Saymon Barbosa and Guto Carvalhaes, who battled through a country quota and two qualifier matches. To be fair, Barbosa has a history of such things. He came out of the qualifier at the Fort Lauderdale Major two years ago, alongside Alvaro Filho. They didn’t drop a set and won their first major.

Why change form in Gstaad?

Their compatriots, Andre Loyola and George Wanderley, quarterfinalists who blew a substantial lead against Bourne and Crabb in the third set for a shot at the semis in Hamburg, are gone, too. Knocked out in the first round by Dutch Alex Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen.

Nobody’s safe. Not on this tour.

The only team who enjoyed substantial success in Hamburg, Mol and Sorum, the bronze medalists, are doing more of the same in Gstaad. They have lost a set, which is odd for them, but not a match, which is not. On the year, they’re 45-6, having dropped just 24 sets on the season. They’ve kept their seed in Gstaad, earning a first-round bye where they’ll now see Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb, who beat Canadians Grant O’Gorman and Ben Saxton in the first round.

At this point, though, the teams remaining, with the exception of Mol and Sorum – and they are, indeed, always the exception to such things – are essentially a who’s who of teams that didn’t perform all that well in Hamburg. That’s the beauty of having back-to-back majors, in a sport rich in parity and depth: Success in one does not translate to immediate success in the next.

For teams in countries deep in talent, these points will be imperative for Olympic qualification. There are just two majors left, in Vienna at the end of the month and Rome, for the World Tour Finals, in early September.

It’s as much a battle of attrition as anything, the ability to fight the post-success hangover that discriminates for no one.

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