Canadian Teams Battle on Copacabana Beach
March 09, 2016: The first FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Grand Slam event of 2016 kicked off in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this week (March 8 to 13) with five Canadian teams in the main draw.
Play is underway on the iconic Copacabana Beach. On the women’s side, Canada is represented by third-seeded Heather Bansley (Waterdown, Ont.) and Sarah Pavan (Kitchener, Ont.); Jamie Broder (Victoria, BC) and Kristina Valjas (Toronto, Ont.), and Melissa Humana-Paredes (Toronto, Ont.) with Taylor Pischke (Winnipeg, MB.)
The Canadian men’s teams are eighth-seeded Chaim Schalk of Red Deer, Alta., and Ben Saxton of Calgary; and 19th seeds Josh Binstock and Sam Schachter, both of Richmond Hill, Ont.
In addition to the US$800,000 prize pool, this year there is Olympic qualification in the mix. The event continues the road to Rio that lasts until June 13, 2016 with FIVB World Tour events counting toward Olympic ranking in order to determine the 15 of 24 spots for each gender that will take part in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The country quota for the Games is two teams per gender.
The 2016 FIVB World Ranking system will again include FIVB Beach Volleyball Grand Slam and Open events along with additional pre-approved events at the inter-continental, continental and national levels.
Prior to this event, the FIVB World Tour has held 15 men’s events and eight women’s events in Rio, including last year’s double-gender test event for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the venue on Copacabana Beach.
The 2015/2016 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar began with three Open events at the end of 2015. The remainder of the 2016 calendar will include multiple FIVB Open and FIVB Grand Slam events along with more Swatch FIVB Major Series tournaments, and the second Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals. The highlight of the calendar will be the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil featuring 24 teams of each gender.
Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2016 Summer Paralympics – the first time a South American and Portuguese-speaking nation will host, and the third time the Olympics will be held in a Southern Hemisphere city.
Implemented in 2013, the format of all the FIVB Beach Volleyball international tournaments – whether FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships, FIVB Beach Volleyball Grand Slam or FIVB Beach Volleyball Open – are the same, featuring pool play followed by single elimination knockout rounds.
Country quota playoffs are also held this year, as needed, to determine the final teams for qualification tournaments.
The 2014-2016 FIVB Beach Volleyball Continental Cup is back again this year as it completes its portion of the qualification process for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.