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The 2001 World Championships

25.04.2019 - Klagenfurt

Our guide to every previous edition of the beach volleyball world championships takes us back to 2001 and the Austrian beach capital, Klagenfurt...

In a nutshell

The third World Championships in beach volleyball history took place in a small city in Austria that would go on and become the capital of the sport for over a decade. Klagenfurt first hosted an FIVB World Tour tournament in 1997 and the impact and popularity of beach volleyball, together with the vision of a certain Hannes Jagerhofer, helped raise the profile of the sport in this corner of the world. The 2001 World Championships were arguably the biggest yet and it didn’t fail to disappoint the legions of fans who turned up in their thousands of the banks of Lake Wörthersee. In total, 48 men’s and 47 women’s teams made the trip to southern Austria to fight for share of one million Dollars in prize money.

Argentina and Brazil win golds

Having posted a ninth place finish in the 1999 championships, Argentinians Mariano Baracetti and Martin Conde took the men’s gold, giving South America yet another world champion but denying Brazil the top prize in the process. The winners came into the tournament as the number four seeds but they saw off the challenge of José Loiola and Ricardo Santos in the final.

In the women’s division, Brazil completed a 1-2, with Shelda Bede and Adriana Behar retaining the world title that they won two years previously in Marseille. The number one seeds and reigning champions beat compatriots Tatiana Minello and Sandra Pires in the gold medal match.

Europe claimed both bronze medals; with Norway’s Vegard Høidalen and Jørre Kjemperud taking the final spot on the men’s podium, while Eva Celbová and Sona Novaková of the Czech Republic claiming third place in the women’s division.

Surprise packages

Unfancied American pair Rob Heidger and Chip McCaw were seeded 18th in the tournament yet marched all the way to the semifinals. The pair lost to Baracetti and Conde in straight sets in their final four game and then missed out on a medal, losing the battle for bronze to Norway. Holdren and Rogers, featured in the clip above, were not given much of a chance seeded 23, but finished fifth.

In the women’s event, the top three seeds filled the top four positions, with the Czech bronze medalists Celbová and Novaková seeded 12th before a ball was served. The European duo beat the second seeded team, the United States’ Barbra Fontana and Elaine Youngs, in the bronze medal match.

Worth a watch

Todd Rogers and Dax Holdren in Klagenfurt

Dax Holdren makes a great transition set for Todd in Austria. FIVB 2001. They lose this match and finish in 5th place. This is their last match as a team.

Footage of the 2001 World Championships is as about as rare as an empty seat on the center court in Klagenfurt.

In the one piece of random YouTube searchness that we managed to find is this, a 21-second clip of the eventual men’s champions, Baracetti and Conde in action against Americans Dax Holdren and Todd Rogers. This game would be the US team’s last together as a pair.

Things to take from this 21-second rally: the great transition set from Holdren and of course, the blue skies and the packed stadium that Klagenfurt would go onto be become famous for.

How did the Austrians do?

All eyes were on Nik Berger and Oliver Stamm, the top Austrian men’s team who were seeded number one as hosts. Having got out of their pool they went onto beat Stephane Canet and Mathieu Hamel of France in their first knockout match before losing in their round two match against McCaw and Heidger of the United States. The Austrians finished in ninth – the highest of any of the home teams.

Berger and Stamm were one of five men’s teams who competed, with the other four all exiting at the pool play stage. One of those include a 20-year-old Clemens Doppler, who was making his World Champs debut alongside Dietmar Maderbock.

Christine Mellitzer and Sabine Swoboda were the highest finishing Austrian women’s team, losing in the first elimination round to post a 17th place finish, while the four other teams’ journey ended after the pool play. One of those, Sara Montagnolli, was 22 at the time, and at the beginning of a career which would see her become a World Tour regular up until she retired in 2012.

A special World Championships because…

The crowds in Klagenfurt. The fans not only created those goosebump moments but the thousands also respected the sport and were appreciative of world class beach volleyball taking place right before their very eyes.

“It’s not like this anywhere else in the world,” said a suitably impressed José Loiola. “Here in Austria they really know how to cheer.”

Impress your friends by saying:

“Kerri Walsh Jennings made her first World Championship appearance in the 2001 edition in Klagenfurt.”

A 22-year-old Kerri finished ninth with teammate Misty May-Treanor. What would future World Championships hold for these two…?

Switch-a-roo

After winning the 1999 Championships together, Loiola and Emanuel Rego went their separate ways. While Loiola won silver with Ricardo, Emanuel and new partner Tande Ramos – the Brazilian second seeds – could only muster a fifth place finish. The pair would last one more season together before Emanuel joined forces with Ricardo.

Where are they now?

Having ended his World Tour career in 2009, World Champ Baracetti – pictured above – went into coaching and was mostly recently tasked with mentoring the talented pool of Qatari players, including World Ranking high flyers Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan.

The championship in three words?

Goosebumps don’t lie.

Like what we’re doing?

Check out the 1997 championship story, and the article focusing on the 1999 edition. Next up: 2003 in Rio.