13.08.2020 - Vienna, Austria
Have you ever heard anything about the Riesenrad bringing good luck? I mean, is there any other logical reason why the same team would win one of the toughest beach volleyball tournaments on the planet for three consecutive seasons without losing a match?
I don't know about that, but since they stood on top of the iconic Ferris wheel that's the symbol of Vienna, the city has treated these Beach Volley Vikings quite well, hasn't it?
Well, it’s Anders Mol and Christian Sørum we’re talking about and they just do these things. Remember when they won the 2018 Gstaad Major after they started the tournament seeded 15th? Or when they won 22 straight matches in that same season?
Their third-consecutive victory at the Vienna Major was equally epic and it stands right up there with those feats. No team had ever won the same Beach Major Series event in three straight seasons. But if someone were to do it, it would have to be the Vikings.
But it was, by no means, a cakewalk. Their gold medal match opponents were nothing less than the reigning world champions, the formidable Russians Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Viacheslav Krasilnikov. By the way, this is, hands down, the coolest beach volleyball rivalry right now with four fantastic players and even better guys battling across the globe.
The Red Bull Beach Arena was crowed – as it ever is in Vienna. In gold medal match days, the city wakes up differently and we could all feel the energy and the tension that surrounded the Danube Island in that morning.
And, judging by the first set of the final, it seemed that there would be no three-peat for the Vikings. With the 2.10m-tall Oleg sealing the net and Slava bombing servers and scooping everything on defense, the Russians secured a 21-16 victory.
But, as we saw several times, there’s no such thing as pressure for the Norwegians. Christian is ice-cold day in and day out and Anders, while more emotional at times, has a brilliant mind that allows him to find solutions to even the most adverse situations. They stuck to what they do best, siding out, blocking and defending, and made some minor adjustments to take the second set 21-18.
Then it was crunch time. Both teams were one set away from glory. It was about keeping it simple and not making mistakes. It was a side out battle. One point to Norway, one point to Russia, just like clockwork.
After a few match points denied by Slava, Christian made an odd decision. ‘I’ll serve Oleg on this one’, he thought before launching his floater towards the other side of the court. He miscalculated it, though. It seemed it would hit the net. Making a mistake at that time would be brutal, he knew.
But then, maybe it was time for the Riesenrad good luck to jump in. The ball graciously hit the border of the net and slowed rolled across it. Even though he was wearing sunglasses, you could tell Oleg’s eyes were just about to jump out of his head when he realized what was about to happen. He jumped forward, stretched every muscle of his enormous body to reach for the ball. It wasn’t enough. It touched the sand less than one meter away from the net. It’s a point. It’s the point. 19-17.
All over again.
And that’s how another edition of the Vienna Major played out. Intense, as usual. Fantastic, as usual. Absolutely fun, as usual. As it will be in 2021.
See you at the beach!