Canadian World Champions Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan

What better way to follow up last week’s epic FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships presented by comdirect and ALDI Nord with the 20th anniversary of the Swatch Major Gstaad?

The best players in the world have swiftly returned to the sand to play in the first five-star tournament of 2019 and compete for a total of 600,000 US Dollars in prize money.

The Major in the Mountains is the highest in the world at 1,050 meters above sea level and whether it’s the altitude or the quick turnaround after playing in Hamburg, some of the stars of the World Championships have begun slowly – or, in the case of some, exited the competition already.

Canadian World Champions Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan2

Canadian World Champions Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan needed to bounce back from a shock first set reverse against Swiss outsiders Laura Caluori and Dunja Gerson, eventually winning 17-21, 21-7, 15-10 just four days after lifting the title.

“That was a little kick up the butt,” a relieved Humana-Paredes said afterwards. “You can chalk it up as a great performance by them, or chalk it up as what happened to us last week. I think we needed to go through that. Get winning the World Championship out of our system, get the balling rolling.”

Melissa and Sarah’s victims in the final, Americans Alix Klineman and April Ross, also found the tough going, also needing to recover from losing the first set to beat their opponents from Poland.

Canadian World Champions Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan

For the gold and silver medalists, those wins guaranteed a place in the knockout stages but other teams were not so lucky. In Tuesday’s qualification stage there were 12 teams that took part in the World Championships that saw their dreams of a medal in Gstaad end.

Among them were Americans Summer Ross/Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes/Sarah Sponcil, as well as Austrians Robin Seidl/Philipp Waller and Ana Gallay/Fernanda Pereyra of Argentina.

Newly-crowned World champions Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy of Russia didn’t have it all their own way either in Gstaad. After winning their first pool play match they lost their second to Brazil’s Alison Cerutti and Álvaro Filho, bringing their nine-match winning streak to an abrupt end.

Bronze medalist at the World Champs and Gstaad Major 2018 winners Anders Mol and Christian Sørum won both of their games to progress to the Last 16, although they had to fight to win their second against Russia’s Nikita Liamin and Taras Myskiv.

“It’s great to be back, it brings so many memories of playing on the Center Court and we want to bring another cowbell back to Norway,” said Anders. “It feels like home. The vibe, the environment, the fresh air; in many ways it is a bit like Norway. It’s a small town, like where I am from, so I feel so at home here.”

The main draw action at the foot of the Swiss Alps continues on Thursday as the men’s first elimination stage begins and the women complete their round of pool play matches.