[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?
Aside from Stavanger, Berlin was a blast. Last year in Berlin we failed to qualify and this time around Christian was dealing with a rough 24-hour stomach bug, our qualification wasn’t looking too good. Christian was lying in bed all day Tuesday (the qualifier began Wednesday) and this bug seemed to be making it’s way through a few different athletes. Ben and I trained together Tuesday as Chaim chaim down the same thing Christian had (haha, see what I did there?)
Anyways, as most of you already know Berlin wound up being our best result of the season (go figure) – we pulled off a 9th while playing some pretty consistent ball. That is why Stavanger was such a let down, after having worked our way into a bit of a rhythm in Berlin, to let it all slip away in Stavanger. But that brings me back to what I said earlier about FIVB qualifiers being no joke! I’m in only my second full season on the FIVB World Tour (with two partial seasons prior) and in my time the qualifiers have gotten much, much tougher – Although back in the day there were crazy 64 team qualifiers requiring three straight wins just to make it into the main draw (that was my first qualification experience, Prague 2010. Just epic). But now with a cap of 24 teams, qualifiers are basically anyone’s victory. So much depends on the day, and who shows up to play.
We sure didn’t show up to play in Stanvanger, that’s for sure. There were moments, but things were just too hot and cold throughout the match to really give ourselves a chance. But, like any learning experience we’ll do just that, learn, and try to improve at our next opportunity – Gstaad, Switzerland.
Gstaad is awesome; it’s comparable to Whistler, BC. Sand is trucked in and dumped right in the village high in the mountains. Playing at altitude is pretty gnarly, too. Jump serving is a bit riskier as the ball tends to sail long more often than usual. Gstaad will also bring a refreshing change, our coach John Child will be there with us for the first time this season. For any people living under a rock (and taking into account the number of Canadians who don’t even know we have a beach National Team, I’m sure this will be news to many of you), Canadian Beach Volleyball teams receive a total of $0 for a coach, or any support staff for that matter, while regularly competing internationally.
Imagine, sending Team Canada Hockey to the World Championships without a coaching staff. Or better yet, something a little more comparable, Canada’s indoor Men’s National Volleyball Team without coaches, therapist, or videographer on the road competing in World League… Let’s see how they would do?! Haha,
I laugh, but it’s actually sad.
However, that’s the way it is and instead of dwelling on it we do our best to grind through it and find ways to win. Gstaad will be an awesome change, as well as Long Beach where John will join us yet again.
Anyways, I have one week at home in Toronto. I’ll be kicking it at the beach training, coaching, and soaking up the rays. Any youth volleyballers looking to get ahead of the pack, shoot me an email and let’s hit the sand!