Gstaad, Switzerland, July 14, 2019 - With the women's gold medal match here Sunday closing out six days of beach volleyball action, the week-long FIVB World Tour event also was a celebration of 20 years competition in the Swiss Alps village.
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Highlighting the celebration schedule was the return Saturday morning of more than 30 past participants in the Swatch Major Gstaad event led by Olympic beach volleyball gold medal winner Natalie Cook of Australia from the Sydney 2000 Summer Games. In addition, American Olympic and world champions Phil Dalhausser and Kerri Walsh Jennings were present after being eliminated for the 2019 Swatch Major Gstaad.
The reunion of past and present FIVB World Tour players
The Saturday morning gathering of past and present players was a surprise for Swatch Major Gstaad tournament director Ruedi Kunz, the individual behind the creation of the longest running event in the 33-year history of FIVB World Tour that started in 1987 for men and 1992 for women.
"I had no idea that Saturday's event was to honor me," said Kunz. "We started small with a women's-only event in 2000 and we added the men's competition in 2001. Now we rank as one of the premier beach volleyball events in the world. The key to our success is the people behind the scene, especially all the volunteers."
Ruedi Kunz (left) with FIVB technical delegate Robert Reggiani, who has been associated with the World Tour since 1987 as a referee, promoter and delegate
This year's Swatch Major Gstaad attracted over 550 volunteers from Switzerland and the surrounding European countries. "These are the special people that make this event," said Kunz. “No event can succeed without the volunteers. And many of the volunteers comeback year after year.”
Another highlight for the 20th anniversary celebration was the production of a 168-page book by Kunz wife Magi, who played on the FIVB World Tour in the late 1990s and placed fourth with Nicole Schnyder-Benoît at the 1998 European Championships.
The limited-edition book "tells the stories and anecdotes previously reserved for the insiders only," Magi said. With numerous pictures illustrating 20 years of the Gstaad beach volleyball history, the book also includes a Swatch watch included in the cover.
Finally, here are facts and figures for the Swatch Major Gstaad:
Facts of the volunteers of 20 years
·121 members in the organisation committee
·8,539 volunteers in total
·86 volunteers have worked at the event more than 10x
·557 Volunteers, 218 of them from the region of Gstaad, 339 from other regions or countries
·The youngest volunteer born in 2010, oldest born in 1939
·Volunteer with the longest travel to Gstaad: from Warsaw, Poland, 1527km
·Long-time volunteers: Jolanda Birrer, Köbi Kölliker, Käthi Matti
·Smallest volunteer 1,20m, tallest volunteer 1,96m
·Volunteers from Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Poland
·238 volunteers with overnight stay
·12,440 vouchers (food, drinks) during the week