So last year we took a disappointing 33rd here losing to a fiery Aussie team in the windiest conditions I’ve ever experienced on tour – not to take away from their win, they played very well. Anyways, this year we’re obviously looking to improve on that result and with only three confirmed events after this one we need to capitalize on every opportunity we get.
Aright, alright before I explain the multiple Canadian Championships… For the first time since 1998 I’m back in Halifax. Shortly after landing I found myself staring at an odd shaped hill and asking my driver “is that Citadel Hill?” – “It sure is” he replied. Many memories immediately poured back; memories of traveling to the area with my family when I was a kid. For basically the first 8 years of my life I lived in Nova Scotia (so I could argue I’m a bit of a local! Keep that in mind all you local readers, Maverick Hatch is a local boy and you definitely want to see a local guy win it all! haha) and like many proud East Coast Canadians (or any Canadian for that matter) we would drive into Halifax to watch the Citadels, and Mooseheads play – the local AHL & CHL hockey teams. The Citadels moved to Ontario in 1993, it’s crazy to remember things from way back then. I’m really excited to have the opportunity to come back here.
When I started playing on tour in 2011 I didn’t have enough points to get into the FIVB Grand Slams, then by the time I did (last season) Klagenfurt dropped off the FIVB World Tour schedule and hosted the European Championships. During that whole time I heard the most elaborate stories of epic times in Klagenfurt. Well I finally know what all the talk is about; Klagenfurt is easily the best tournament of the season. The days leading up to the qualifier gave me some time to check things out; the players dock, yes, a dock (a huge Red Bull catamaran, and Red Bull power boats parks along side during the main draw), the players lunch area featuring some of the best catering I’ve ever seen at an event; multiple main course selections, a plethora of sides and options to eat basically any kind of meal you wanted, and equally as many options for dessert (Mmm, dessert).
No matter how long the travel time between events is, if you match the traveled time with time spent sleeping after arrival there’s no logical reason to complain. So I made it to Klagenfurt and as you can probably guess, I’m well rested. After a 6 hour nap shortly after arriving and tracking down some food I woke up in time to catch the medal games from the tournament I had just left, Long Beach. By the time Christian arrived it was around 10 o’clock and by the time the men’s final finished it was midnight and time for more shuteye – waking up at 9am, making for a solid 14 hours of sleep after arrival. Long Beach was fun, but another 25th which isn’t. The weather was smoking hot, low to mid 30’s all week long. Our qualifier was unfortunately against another Canadian team, never a welcomed match as they are usually the trickiest ones to play (both teams knowing each others tendencies and all that). We walked away with a pretty convincing win in straight sets to qualify.
This entry is difficult to start… After not advancing from our pool in The Hague, I walked into the hotel and all those thoughts and feelings were immediately washed away by the shocking news the of Malaysian Airlines flight that departed from Amsterdam earlier that day. My deepest condolences go out to all those affected by this unthinkable event. The past two weeks in Gstaad, Switzerland and Den Haag, Netherlands were physically draining, but in a good way. I’ll begin briefly in Gstaad where we finished 17th. Qualification provided a fortunate opportunity for a rematch vs Latvia who eliminated us in Stavanger, Norway two weeks prior.
[Above: Preikestolen. A popular tourist hike, and amazing view. Didn't have time to make the journey, something to look forward to next year I guess.] Home. There isn’t any place better – the feeling never changes no matter how long or short of a trip I’m returning from. Unfortunately for such an amazing venue and beautiful location, Stavanger wasn’t quite what I had hoped. I’m now home early, given lots of time to reflect on (to be blunt) a shit performance. It’s a tough route, FIVB qualifiers. To put it into perspective for you, three teams from the men’s qualifier stood atop the podium in Berlin just last week – crazy, eh?
7:20PM Local Time: Phew! What wild game vs Poland’s Kantor/Losiak. Lasting just over an hour Christian and battled after losing a tight first set and found a way to win in thrilling 3 set fashion; 2-1 (19-21, 27-25, 15-10) The first set was back and forth with us on the losing side of things. The second set started off slow for us, down a bunch early on with the match (seeming like it was going to be over in two straight sets) we found ourselves down 14-19. A quick side out for us, 15-19 now, we stole a point and we moving to the good side only down by 3. Thanks to some help from the wind, and some strong play on our side of the net we found ourselves tied up at 19′s and right back in the match – the set would eventually end in our favor, stealing away the win from Poland and heading into the third with a lot of momentum. Once again, on the good side, we were able to pull away down the stretch going up 11-6, then 12, 13, and 14 to switch to the bad side up 14-6, closing out the win […]
Just a quick update from Berlin before my night comes to a close. We were successful this time around, winning in straight sets over Switzerland to qualify (21-16, 21-16). It’s refreshing for sure; especially after feeling we’ve made some solid progress since Shanghai, and coming up short in Moscow just last week. <–more!–> Fortunately (for convenience sake) we have a German team in our pool, which means all our matches will be played on courts 1 & 2 – located just outside of our hotel. These courts are in the middle of Berlin’s main train station, a really nice venue with vendors and many spectators. The other 3 courts are a quick 15 minute shuttle drive from the hotel.
“Moscow, Russia” People say English is a difficult language to learn but, without ever having tried, I can’t imagine Russian is much easier… If it weren’t for pictures and familiar logo’s I would be completely lost when doing the simplest thing, like ordering dinner. We started things off with by missing our connection in Frankfurt as the airport was too busy for us to land on time, a four hour layover would ensue (not a huge issue as we were set up nicely in the Frankfurt lounge) and delay our arrival at the hotel until shortly after midnight (18 total hours in transit). On the flip side though, had we made our original connection we would have missed the fire works show lasting our entire approach to the Domodedovo Airport (not really worth the five hour delay, but pretty cool nonetheless).
And the winner is… There’s only one downside associated with my infrequent visits home, the fact that all social media comes to a screeching halt. For me, this isn’t a bad thing as it’s always an amazing feeling to disconnect from the overwhelming amount of connectivity in this day and age. It’s also nice to give my family full attention instead of being attached to my computer or phone. I’m back in Toronto now and that means it’s time to catch up on what I’ve missed, which means announcing a winner! I’m happy to announce that Alex Swiatlowski has won this awesome prize pack
After a long, cold, miserable winter in Toronto (with a pleasant 10 day break in Cali) I’m happy to finally be hitting the road (check back with me in three-weeks, though) with a stop in Van to kick things off. It’s always a special feeling when I get to spend an extended amount of time in Vancouver. Red and I will be here for a week while he wraps up some RBC work, meanwhile I’ll take the opportunity to schedule a few meetings with some sponsors who are located here, and spend time with my friends I rarely see. In my last post I mentioned a television appearance although I guess I spoke too soon, just two days before filming I was cut from the pitch (height discrimination no doubt.) The show was Dragons Den (a popular entrepreneur/investment show, for any non-Canadian readers.) With that went my chance at 15-minutes of fame, a welcomed change though, I had been dealing with a bit of a cold since returning from Ontario Youth Volleyball Championships the previous weekend.
Since I started playing beach volleyball for the National Team I’ve occasionally run into people at events, or met people through mutual friends who want me to try their products; a therapy device, beach wear, nutrition products, the list goes on… I never thought I’d be in a position where people wanted, or cared about my input but it’s a position that has it’s benefits, and now here’s your chance to benefit too!
A solid 10 day trip to Cali, all aspects; volleyball, social, music, earthquakes…. yea, I said earthquakes. I think the craziest part about my first earthquake experience is that, while I was safe and sound, enjoying the experience, I came back to my hotel room to see that there was actually a lot of damage done – on CNN, not actually around my hotel in Hermosa. Many houses, streets, and business establishments suffered from the 5.1 quake. Times like that really make you respect Mother Nature on a whole other level. I’m used to appreciating it’s beautiful scenery and weather on a regular basis, but when things like this occur you get a totally new understanding of what Mother Nature can really do… Wow.
The days blend into one down here. It only took me 3 days to forget which day of the week it was – trying to tackle emails on Saturday/Sunday so curious as to why I’m not getting regular replies within a reasonable amount of time… That’s what training on weekends for the first time this offseason does to me I guess. Things have been going well. This is probably the best transition back to outdoor play that I’ve had to date, which is nice as it allows us to focus on other aspects of the game as we train and compete. Yesterday we trained in the afternoon with a team from Germany and that was the windiest session yet – making for a few comical rallies.
The flight in was smooth, the beef tenderloin for lunch helped (well done Air Canada.) It’s nice to be back in California, Hermosa to be exact. Not that it’s any palace, actually far from it, but crashing at the Sea Sprite while we’re here will be pretty good too – location wise. I’m curious how long it’ll be until I’m feasting at Brothers; those of you who have spent any time in Hermosa will know what I’m talking about, one of the best joints along the beach. This will be the first year, during my time with the National Team, that Volleyball Canada will be covering our expenses for this training camp. Pretty pumped that I’m out here on VC’s dime and not my own! This will provide a good opportunity to get outside, an earlier start than recent years adjusting back to the wind, sun, and (hopefully no) rain.
What better time to throw it back then to the Quebec FIVB Open in 2011. This was my first top-10 on the FIVB World Tour; Samuel and I had a pretty good year in 2011, though a year later we went our separate ways, c’est la vie! I still get chills when I watch this clip, even though we lost in two straight sets… Harley (Brazil) has since retired from the FIVB, I feel very fortunate to have played against him before he decided to call it quits.
Ladies & Gents - Here’s your chance to win a years supply of MyPakage!
As I sit on my parent’s patio surrounded by sun, peace, and almost near quiet – a road hockey game just ended – I felt the need to write about Nationals, before forgetting the fine details.