26/04/2016 18:14
Beach Volleyball in Biel/Bienne – A key stop on the road to Rio 2016
2016 CEV Beach Volleyball European Championship - Final

Biel/Bienne, Switzerland, April 26, 2016. In just over a month, Europe’s top Beach Volleyball players will arrive in Biel/Bienne, Switzerland for this year’s CEV Beach Volleyball European Championship Final. The event promises to be unusually intense, as the teams are competing not just for the coveted continental title but also for the final places at stake to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. All the more reason, therefore, for bringing the flavour of the beach to BEA, the Berne spring fair.

On Saturday, April 30, 2016, BEA will play host to a number of activities, some involving top names in Beach Volleyball such as Sascha Heyer, Paul Laciga and Sébastien Chevallier. On May 17, meanwhile, the draw for the European Championship Final group phase will take place on the shores of Lake Biel.  

The 2016 CEV Beach Volleyball European Championship Final, held this year in Biel/Bienne, is likely to deliver some top-level matches. Unlike other editions of Europe’s premier event, this summer the players are competing not only for the championship title but also for qualification for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. As the Olympic ranking process closes just a week after the #EuroBeachVolley event, the Biel/Bienne tournament is the last but one chance to qualify for Rio.

The motivation levels for all of the top European teams are therefore likely to be especially high. As a result, tournament director and 2001 European Beach Volleyball champion Sascha Heyer is extremely excited about the championship: “We are proud that the BEACH EURO event is so significant for the sport and we are looking forward to seeing matches that are even more spectacular than those of the last two years’ Masters tournaments held in Biel/Bienne.”

Show match at BEA and group draw on Lake Biel

Both the ticket sale and the promotional campaign for BEACH EURO 2016 are already well underway, with even more intense activity expected this coming weekend. In conjunction with the Uhrencup football championship to be held in July and the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships, a ticket booth will be operational from April 29 until May 8 in the BEActive sports zone at BEA, the Berne spring fair. Next to it, a fully-equipped Beach Volleyball court will be available for visitors to try out the sport themselves. In addition, from 5:00 to 6:00pm every day, the court will host open training sessions for visitors to BEActive. On April 30 – the Beach Volleyball theme day – public training sessions with the Swiss national teams will take place, as well as a show match with Sascha Heyer and Paul Laciga, and a kids’ training session with Sébastien Chevallier.

In mid-May, meanwhile, another highlight will provide additional exposure for the event, with the draw for the group stage of the European Championship Final. This will be held on May 17, 2016 on the solar catamaran Mobicat in the port of Biel. Alongside city mayor Erich Fehr, tournament director Sascha Heyer and Swiss Volley director Werner Augsburger will also be in attendance.

Set-up Biel/Bienne – attracting audiences with floodlights, free entry and a beach train

In order for the event in Biel/Bienne to take place at its fantastic lakeside location, considerable time and effort are needed in terms of logistics. On the city’s Strandboden waterfront, a 3,200-seat stadium is being built specifically for the BEACH EURO championship, requiring the delivery of around 1,000 tonnes of scaffolding and 1,400 tonnes of sand.

In addition, floodlights are being set up to facilitate evening and night-time sessions, allowing spectators to enjoy Volleyball games after nightfall. Tournament director Heyer is particularly pleased that a “Beachtrain” will be running for the first time. This special tram, operating exclusively for the event, will carry visitors to and from the stadium site on a route from Biel/Bienne’s main railway station through the city centre. “We came up with the idea of the Beachtrain over the last few years,” Heyer explains. “For us, it’s important that our guests can enjoy every aspect of the event. Thanks to the Beachtrain, even getting there will now become an experience. Together with the free admission to the Beach Arena during the week, this will help ensure there are full stands and an unbeatable atmosphere in the stadium.”

Sporting news: prospects looking good for Swiss women’s teams

After the all-Swiss women’s final at the Biel/Bienne 2015 Masters tournament between Heidrich/Zumkehr and Forrer/Vergé-Dépré, the Swiss women’s pairs are facing high expectations for the forthcoming BEACH EURO competition.

While the competition may be even tougher this year because of the event’s European Championship status, the four Swiss women are currently on top form. The Heidrich/Zumkehr partnership has made a strong impression with two fifth-place positions this season and this past weekend they were even able to top that with their victory in the all-Swiss bronze medal game in Fuzhou (China) against Forrer/Vergé-Dépré. The latter, on the other hand, celebrated their first victory of a tournament at this level in mid-April in China at the Xiamen Open. If both teams’ great results continue, at Biel the organisers and the Swiss fans can expect to see them secure two starting places for Switzerland at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Switzerland’s last medal at the European Championship Final came in 2014 in Cagliari, Italy when Tanja Goricanec and Tanja Hüberli lost the gold medal match to Madelein Meppelink and Marleen van Iersel of the Netherlands.  

The Swiss men’s teams, on the other hand, have not yet showed their full potential in the World Tour events so far, yet their chances of qualifying for the Olympics remain intact, and might even increase with a strong performance on home turf.

Click here for further information or visit the official website

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