2018-07-10 13:22:00 CEST

Heaven on Earth

Kerri loves Gstaad, and Gstaad loves Kerri…

Kerri is playing in Gstaad for the 14th time this weekKerri is playing in Gstaad for the 14th time this week

“To me, Gstaad is Heaven on Earth.”

It’s clear that Kerri Walsh Jennings has a real connection with this utterly picturesque pocket of the Swiss Alps. It does, of course, help that the legend of the sand has six golden cowbells to her name, all of which were won with Misty May-Treanor in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2012.

This year, she makes her 14th appearance in the mountains, 1,000 meters above sea level, as a wildcard with teammate Nicole Branagh.

“The people, the setting, the fresh air… it’s the most beautiful place. The fact that Gstaad has been home to the best beach volleyball event for the past 20 years is very fitting. For me it is a combination of two of my favorite things, Gstaad (& all that it offers) + my beloved sport of beach volleyball.”

The three-time Olympic and World Champion has made a steady recovery from her latest shoulder injury to return to the sand this season, competing with Branagh in five tournaments. In Warsaw two weeks ago, the pair reached the quarterfinals, beating Sara Hughes and Summer Ross along the way.

Kerri knows better than anyone – Gstaad will be her 127th international tournament appearance after all – that comebacks are never easy. But there’s no player on tour as positive and forward-thinking as Walsh Jennings.

“As far as Nicole and I having a ‘tough’ journey thus far – it is very true that things have not been easy, yet it has been full of growth and great moments,” says Kerri. “We are confident that we will get to where we aspire to go.

“We are in this for the big picture and we know it will require everything we have; we are committed and eager for the journey to unfold.”

For Branagh, who made her Gstaad debut back in 2006, the Major in the mountains holds a special place in her heart.

“It feels like there is a lot of pride and tradition with Gstaad and that is something everyone can feel when they are there,” she says.

“The whole town is excited beach volleyball is there and the people are always happy to volunteer and be a part of it. There aren't many cities that have had a tournament for as many years as Gstaad has and that says a lot about the community and the city. We always feel welcomed when we come to play!”

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