Seeded first yet having missed the gold in Brazil, USA looks strong despite losing top scorer and defender from WCBU2007, Becca Tucker. USA filled her spot effectively with a bevy of top club talent and should have little trouble here outside Venice if their 13-2 pasting of #3 seed Finland is any indication. Right now it looks like under-seeded Canada and Japan could possibly stop them.
Our sole entry from Japan comes courtesy of the women. A 5th place finish by Nadeshiko at Paganello means they can compete right away even if sand isn’t their typical playing surface. It’s tough to say if they will have the depth to handle USA but this will be a team in the running and their second seed here will give them an edge to start.
Next is Finland, one of the European teams that appears to have saved up talent from the EUC two weeks ago to concentrate on Beach Worlds. In fact, they even built a beach arena in downtown Helsinki against great odds and showcased the sport of beach ultimate to thousands of curious onlookers. The Suomi have been to Paganello so many times it’s impossible to count anymore and a few women on this team have won the tournament. Expect them to play quick give and go’s with some jacks when available and a faceless army on defense.
Germany’s team “Sandschland” could be a dark horse for the finals. They are bringing an interesting combination of players who are double-dipping in the month of August: half the team competed at the EUCs two weeks ago and won the gold medal, while the other half are new and young and whose last international tournament was the juniors U20 in Breslau, where they took silver. One key player missing is German star Sara Wickstrom who usually guides the Deutsche (like a victory of the American-led and eventual Paga 2011 champions, the Fembot Ballers) to success but will not be at WCBU.
If you watch enough BlockStack.TV videos you’ll know that the GB Women’s team is possibly the one from the group of GB teams bringing all they got. Led by former Bliss captains and multi-Paganello winners Rebecca and Katey Forth, they have been practicing and preparing to medal at this tournament. Already down with a loss to the Canadians it means semis is a possibility but it won’t be easy.
Canada comes in under the radar in a sense, but there are a few Capitals players, some Odyssée players that are tops in the Mixed division, some from Storm, Lotus, etc. In other words they have brought a strong team. With their nail-biting 9-8 win over Germany Tuesday afternoon they may have an inside track to the finals if this cross-country all-star squad can continue to gel.
Australia seeded it’s women’s squad low at seven as many of the established players are not coming or are playing Mixed, so perhaps seven is appropriate. But it just seems unlike an Australian team not to somehow rise in the rankings so it wouldn’t surprise me to see them in the mix as the tournament progresses.
Rounding out the last four teams are Switzerland, France, Belgium and Spain. I do think that these teams can pull of an upset of the top 7 but I wouldn’t necessarily count on it. Each squad has experience and players but carrying the depth, coaching and championship experience that these top 7 have isn’t likely to be forthcoming.
The main photo features Finland’s Henna Tanskanen and Heidi Pekkola Finland drilling and practicing on the sand and snow.