Surprise, surprise: Canada, Norway continue hot streak in Las Vegas
Just when you thought they couldn’t possibly be more popular, more endearing, any humbler, they go ahead and one-up themselves, these Norwegian phenomena, Anders Mol and Christian Sorum.
On Saturday evening, with yet another final appearance locked for the next morning, after taking picture after picture, interview after interview, signing autograph after autograph, with the same pleasant demeanor and ready smiles, they were asked if making Sunday was an expectation, something they have begun to schedule into their travel plans.
They had only made the finals in, oh, the previous five major tournaments in which they played.
“Absolutely not,” Mol said, shaking his head. “We know it’s a lot of hard work and, right now, we also have our flights on Sunday, so we were not expecting this.”
“There’s a lot of good teams in this tournament,” Sorum added. “You never know. You could have a good day or a bad day so we’re happy to be playing on a Sunday.”
And, per usual, succeeding on a Sunday.
In the finals at p1440 Las Vegas, the first four-star of the Olympic qualification calendar, Mol and Sorum matched up with familiar foes in Poland’s Grzegorz Fijalek and Michael Bryl. They’ve seen them twice before, in the finals of the Vienna and Hamburg Majors. Both times Norway took care of business in straight sets.
May as well make it a third, with a smooth, 21-13, 21-17 win to claim their second consecutive p1440 tournament title. Not that they could bask in their winnings for long, for it was straight to McCarron International Airport, on a flight to Monaco for a Red Bull event for the team that never seems to stop going going going.
“It’s never easy to win,” Mol said. “It’s never going to be perfect, and if you play perfect, it’s easy. We find good strategies when we’re down and losing the first set, and we just find ways to win.”
There is a trend, it seems, among teams who are finding ways to win. Just as they did two weeks ago in San Jose, Canada’s Brandie Wilkerson and Heather Bansley, owners of the Best Blocker and Best Defender, respectively, in the world, took home gold here in Vegas, trumping countrywomen Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan, 21-17, 17-21, 15-9.
It’s the third consecutive final for Wilkerson and Bansley, with gold in San Jose and Vegas and a silver in the triple-point NORCECA in Boca Chica.
“I think a very big goal for me this year is to stay present,” Wilkerson said. “It’s so easy to say ‘You gotta love every moment!’ I don’t love every moment. I don’t love the moments where we don’t play well or don’t execute well but there’s ways to make it better and push yourself. To be in that very challenging, high-pressure situation is something I love. This is what we live for! This is why we’re doing it, why wouldn’t we enjoy it?”
It would be difficult not to enjoy the road Wilkerson and Bansley have been on as of late, and that road continues next week, in Chetumal, Mexico, for the third Olympic qualifier of the year.
Don’t be surprised if they find a way to win.
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