Canadian Beach Teams Leave Their Mark at Copacabana
March 12, 2016: The Canadian teams have wrapped up play at the FIVB World Tour double-gender Rio Grand Slam in Brazil (Mar. 8 to 13), the first major event of 2016.
“The Rio Grand Slam has been an excellent test event for the entire Beach National Team,” explained head coach Steven Anderson, who witnessed the play on the world-famous Copacabana Beach this week. “With assistance from the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), we were able to support our top six teams with a near full-Integrated support team (IST) including coaches for our top four teams, strength and conditioning, a full therapy team and performance analysis.”
Canada’s top finishing team was Heather Bansley (Waterdown, Ont.) and Sarah Pavan (Kitchener, Ont.), who chose to withdraw from their quarterfinal match today as a precaution due to a minor injury to Pavan. The duo ended up ranked a respectable fifth at this tournament.
Jamie Broder (Victoria, BC) and Kristina Valjas (Toronto, Ont.), who were knocked out yesterday in a three-set battle with fellow Canadians Pavan and Bansley, finished ninth to improve their ranking for Olympic qualification.
The up-and-coming team of Melissa Humana-Paredes (Toronto, Ont.) and Taylor Pischke (Winnipeg, MB.), in their first FIVB event of the year, won both of their qualifying matches. They gained valuable experience in Rio, and had an exciting three-set match against American Olympic gold medallist Kerri Walsh and Olympic silver medallist April Ross. Humana-Paredes and Pischke finished the tournament in 25th.
The Canadian men’s team of Chaim Schalk of Red Deer, Alta. and Ben Saxton of Calgary ended up ninth after the number-one seeded Brazilians battled the Canadians to a tough 2-1 (26-24, 17-21, 15-12) loss on Friday night in the second elimination round. Before that, Saxton and Schalk knocked out Latvians Samoilovs/Smedins 2-1 (21-17, 17-21, 16-14).
Josh Binstock and Sam Schachter, both of Richmond Hill, Ont., finished 17th. They did handily beat the top American team of Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson in pool play, but then fell to their Pan Am rivals from Mexico (Virgen/Ontiveros) in round one of elimination.
The sixth Canadian team in Rio, Sam Pedlow and Grant O’Gorman, did not make it past the qualification round.
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.