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2017-07-27 20:13:00 CEST

Sax on the Beach: The Big Dance

Canadian star gives thoughts about of the World Championships

Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk are competing in their third world finalsBen Saxton and Chaim Schalk are competing in their third world finals

Welcome to the big show! The main event! The whole kit and caboodle! Shall I go on? Vienna is hosting the 2017 Beach Volleyball World Championships presented by A1 and suffice it to say this is the tournament we’ve been looking forward to all season. As awesome as all the Swatch Major Series events have been this year, Vienna promises to be oh so much more.

Just by looking at the numbers, the differences are significant. World Champs plays host to 48 main draw teams per gender as opposed to 32 in Fort Lauderdale, Poreč, or Gstaad. It will be the only tournament where the prize money totals US 1 million. The stadium, sitting proudly on the Danube Island in the middle of the historic river of the same name, boasts a seating capacity of 10,000 fans (9,990 of which are likely to be cheering against us when we play the Austrian beach icons Clemens Doppler and Alex Horst Monday evening). Last but not least, World Tour ranking points get a very significant 133 per cent increase, a team’s whole season can be made with a strong finish here in Vienna.

All of these numbers will mean something different to any given team. But of all the differences between the World Championships and any other tournament, there’s one thing that stands out in every player’s mind – The Title. It’s something that stands the test of time, only once every two years do we get the chance to etch our names into the history books. Many of us play our whole careers for the big moments, and there are few (if any) bigger than having a shot at becoming a World Champion.

Alison and Bruno are chasing back-to-back world titles in ViennaAlison and Bruno are chasing back-to-back world titles in Vienna

There are nine players out of 192 that are hunting for their second title (Bruno Schmidt, Agatha Bednarczuk, Barbara Seixas de Freitas, Alexander Brouwer, Robert Meeuwsen, Xue Chen, Larissa Franca Maestrini, Phil Dalhausser, and April Ross) and one, Alison Cerutti, who is pushing for his third World title in the last seven years. The other 182 of us will be doing our very best to rain on their parade. As far as I’m concerned, they’ve had their fun, it’s time for ole’ Ben Jammin to take home the big prize.

That thought goes through the mind of every seed from 1 to 48 in both the men’s and women’s tournaments. The stakes mean everything here. For many of the newcomers, this is their only shot to play against the World’s best. They may be a little out of their league at times, but you can be certain that no one will be more excited or will fight harder than them, which will hopefully inspire the next wave of athletes from those smaller, less developed nations to throw up a net and become the next heroes of their countries.

Speaking of heroes, Hannes Jagerhofer (the man, the myth, the legend) is at the helm of the 2017 edition, with the whole Swatch Majors team, so you can expect this year’s World Championships to hold nothing back. Not only will it be the best beach volleyball the world has to offer, but production value will be at an all-time high, making it a top-notch experience for everyone involved. If you happen to be in Vienna, get to Danube Island from now until August 6. If you’re not fortunate enough to make it in person, keep your eyes glued to swatchmajorseries.com because you’re not going to want to miss a thing. The 2017 Beach Volleyball World Championships in Vienna promises to be something epic. I will be there. Will you?

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