There were new winners of Gstaad’s iconic golden cowbells after Canada’s Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes knocked reigning champions Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude of Germany off of their throne in a sensational final.
In front of a packed Swiss crowd, Sarah and Melissa edged a tight first set 21-17 before the Germans bounced back to take the game to a decider. In a thrilling seesaw third set, Chantal and Julia missed a chance to retain their title only for the Canadians to fight back and claim gold 17-15.
The gold was world number ones Pavan and Humana-Paredes’ second Beach Volleyball Major Series crown after their triumph in Poreč last season and their second of 2018 following their triumph in the Commonwealth Games.
For Melissa, who won bronze here at the world’s highest beach volleyball tournament last season, the title and cowbell held extra significance on her father’s birthday.
“It’s the perfect present for him,” said the 25-year-old defender. “I gave last year’s to my mum so this one will go to my dad. Both of us receive so much support from our families back home so it’s moments like this that make it all worthwhile.”
Pavan, who was imperious at the net with seven crucial blocks, added: “Mel was on fire in the third set, they couldn’t handle her. We now move on to Vienna and we hope for more of the same. It’s a great feeling.”
For last year’s champions Laboureur/Sude, there was no hard feelings after losing their crown – after all they still had a silver medal to celebrate.
“It was a really close game,” said Chantal, who ended the tournament as the top scorer. “It was a big fight right until the end. We won a lot of tight games this week so now it’s their turn. In the end we’re really happy with silver.”
Canada had two teams on the podium after Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson took the bronze medal – the team’s fourth medal in five tournaments. Their 21-19, 21-13 win over Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda ‘Duda’ Santos Lisboa was their first podium finish in a Major Series event together.
The win for Canada ensured a little piece of Gstaad history: for the first time a Brazilian team failed to reach the podium.
While the European teams head for Holland for the Euro Championships next week, the rest of the beach elite will prepare for a return to Austria for the A1 Major Vienna presented by Swatch which runs August 1-5. Sarah Pavan’s parents will be there – will you?