Fort Lauderdale, USA, February 5, 2017 - When play opens here Tuesday morning for qualifying action at the $600,000 Fort Lauderdale Major, the 2017 season opener marks one of the earliest starts for an event in a calendar year on the FIVB World Tour.
With the Fort Lauderdale Major opening the 31st year of men’s international competition and 25th campaign for women, only a 1992 stop in Australia (Sydney), a 1994 event on Miami’s South Beach and three tournaments (1998, 1999 and 2000) in Argentina (Mar Del Plata) were staged earlier than this week’s event at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park.
With the Australian and Argentinean events being held in the southern hemisphere in January, the Miami South Beach stop marks the earliest stop in the northern hemisphere as teams from Brazil and Norway captured the 1994 season opening event with play being held from January 15-22.
Brazilian and American pairs have dominated the top podium spots for the opening calendar year events with the South American country winning 25 gold medals (11 men and 14 women) and North America claiming 18 titles (12 men and six women).
Other countries winning the first event of a calendar year are China (three women), Germany (two men), Argentina (one men), Australia (one women), Canada (one women), Italy (one men), Norway (one men), Qatar (one men) and Switzerland (one men).
The most successful teams winning the first event of a calendar year are Juliana Felisberta/Larissa Franca of Brazil and Sinjin Smith/Randy Stoklos of the United States. Larissa, who will be competing in the Fort Lauderdale Major with Talita Antunes, teamed with Juliana to win six calendar opening gold medals (2005-2006, 2008-2011). Smith and Stoklos topped five calendar opening podiums (1987, 1989-1992).
Legendary Brazilian Emanuel Rego won five calendar opening events with four different partners (ZeMarco de Melo, 1997; Jose Loiola, 1999; Tande Ramos, 2001; and Ricardo Santos, 2004, 2009). Ricardo will be competing in the Fort Lauderdale Major with Harley Marques, who won three calendar opening events in 2002 (Rogerio 'Para' Ferreira), and 2006 and 2007 with Pedro Solberg.
American Phil Dalhausser won four-straight calendar opening events (2010-2013) with the first three being with Todd Rogers in Brasilia with the last being in China with Sean Rosenthal in Fuzhou. Since that run, men’s teams from Italy, Germany and Qatar have won the first event of the calendar year.
Since the end of the Juliana/Larissa calendar opening streak in 2011, four women’s pairs have won the last five opening calendar year events. Chen Xue and Xi Zhang of China topped season opening events in 2012 and 2013 at stops in Brasilia and Fuzhou, respectively. Since then, pairs from the United States (April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings, 2014), Canada (Jamie Broder/Kristina Valjas May, 2015) and Brazil (Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa/Elize Maia, 2016) have taken the first win.
Ross and Walsh Jennings will be competing in this week’s Fort Lauderdale Major with Canadian Valjas May and Brazilian “Duda” competing with Taylor Pischke and Agatha Bednarczuk, respectively. Walsh Jennings teamed with Misty May-Treanor to win calendar opening events in 2002 and 2004.
The first of four SWATCH Major Series events on the 2017 FIVB World Tour calendar, the Fort Lauderdale Major opens Tuesday morning with men’s and women’s qualification where eight teams per gender will advance to Wednesday’s opening “money” rounds.
Wednesday and Thursday rounds on the six courts at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park will feature pool play with the top three teams from each group advancing to Friday’s opening elimination rounds. The men’s semifinal and medal matches will be staged Saturday. The women’s final four matches will be Sunday as the winning pairs will split the $50,000 first-place prizes.
A total of 104 teams (55 men and 49 women) from 26 countries have entered the Fort Lauderdale Major as Fort Lauderdale Beach Park hosts an international beach volleyball event for the second time in the last 17 months. The 2015 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals were held in October 2015 with the Brazilians pairs of Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Talita/Larissa winning the gold medals.
Alison and Bruno captured the Rio 2016 Olympic men’s title by defeating Lupo and Nicolai in the Copacabana finale last August. Talita and Larissa dropped the Rio Olympic bronze medal match to Ross and Walsh. Rio women’s Olympic champion Kira Walkenhorst will be competing in the Fort Lauderdale Major with Julia Grossner as regular partner Laura Ludwig is sidelined due to shoulder surgery.
Here is a complete list of gold medal teams from the first event of each calendar year since the start of international beach volleyball competition sanctioned by the FIVB in 1987.
Year, Date, Site, Men's Gold Medal winners
1987, Feb. 17-22, Rio, Sinjin Smith/Randy Stoklos, USA
1988, Feb. 20-28, Rio, Karch Kiraly/Pat Powers, USA
1989, Feb. 18-26, Rio, Smith/Stoklos, USA
1990, Feb. 13-18, Rio, Smith/Stoklos, USA
1991, Feb. 19-23, Rio, Smith/Stoklos, USA
1992, Jan. 15-19, Sydney, Smith/Stoklos, USA
1993, Feb. 9-14, Rio, Adam Johnson/Kent Steffes, USA
1994, Jan. 18-22, Miami, Jan Kvalheim/Bjorn Maaseide, Norway
1995, Feb. 16-19, Rio, Andre Gomes/Carlos Loss, Brazil
1996, Feb. 8-11, Rio, Roberto Lopez/Franco Neto, Brazil
1997, Feb. 20-23, Rio, ZeMarco de Melo/Emanuel Rego, Brazil
1998, Jan. 16-18, Mar Del Plata, Martin & Paul Laciga, Switzerland
1999, Jan. 15-17, Mar Del Plata, Jose Loiola/Emanuel, Brazil
2000, Jan. 12-16, Mar Del Plata, Mariano Baracetti/Jose Salema, Argentina
2001, June 13-17, Canary Island, Tande Ramos/Emanuel, Brazil
2002, June 12-16, Berlin, Rogerio 'Para' Ferreira/Harley Marques, Brazil
2003, June 4-8, Rhodes, Dain Blanton/Jeff Nygaard, USA
2004, March 16-21, Salvador, Emanuel/Ricardo Santos, Brazil
2005, May 18-22, Shanghai, Christoph Dieckmann/Andreas Scheuerpflug, Germany
2006, May 23-27, Shanghai, Marcio Araujo/Fabio Luiz Magalhaes, Brazil
2007, May 1-5, Shanghai, Harley/Pedro Solberg, Brazil
2008, March 27-30, Adelaide, Harley/Pedro, Brazil
2009, April 21-26, Brasilia, Emanuel/Ricardo, Brazil
2010, April 20-25, Brasilia, Dalhausser/Todd Rogers, USA
2011, April 18-23, Brasilia, Dalhausser/Todd Rogers, USA
2012, April 17-22, Brasilia, Dalhausser/Todd Rogers, USA
2013, April 23-27, Fuzhou, Dalhausser/Sean Rosenthal, USA
2014, April 22-26, Fuzhou, Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai, Italy
2015, April 22-26, Fuzhou, Markus Bockermann/Lars Fluggen, Germany
2016, Feb. 15-19, Kish Island, Jefferson Santos Pereira/Cherif Younousse, Qatar
Year, Date, Site, Women's Gold Medal winners
1992, Aug. 12-15, Almeria, Karolyn Kirby/Nancy Reno, USA
1993, Feb. 9-14, Rio, Kirby/Reno, USA
1994, Jan. 15-22, Miami, Isabel Salgado/Roseli Timm, Brazil
1995, Feb. 9-12, La Serena, Sandra Pires/Jackie Silva, Brazil
1996, Feb. 28-March 3, Rio, Sandra/Jackie, Brazil
1997, Feb. 13-16, Rio, Monica Rodrigues/Adriana Samuel, BrazilA
1998, Feb. 26-March 1, Rio, Shelda Bede/Adriana Behar, Brazil
1999, April 7-11, Acapulco, Shelda/Adriana, Brazil
2000, Feb. 1-6, Vitória, Liz Masakayan/Elaine Youngs, USA
2001, April 4-8, Macau, Natalie Cook/Kerri Pottharst, Australia
2002, June 5-9, Madrid, Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh Jennings, USA
2003, June 4-8, Rhodes, Ana Paula Henkel/Sandra, Brazil
2004, March 9-14, Fortaleza, May-Treanor/Walsh Jennings, USA
2005, May 17-21, Shanghai, Juliana Felisberta/Larissa Franca, Brazil
2006, May 10-14, Modena, Juliana/Larissa, Brazil
2007, May 2-6, Shanghai, Jia Tian/Jie Wang, China
2008, March 27-30, Adelaide, Juliana/Larissa, Brazil
2009, April 20-25, Brasilia, Juliana/Larissa, Brazil
2010, April 19-24, Brasilia, Juliana/Larissa, Brazil
2011, April 17-22, Brasilia, Juliana/Larissa, Brazil
2012, April 15-20, Brasilia, Chen Xue/Xi Zhang, China
2013, April 24-28, Fuzhou, Xue/Zhang, China
2014, April 23-27, Fuzhou, April Ross/Walsh Jennings, USA
2015, April 22-26, Fuzhou, Jamie Broder/Kristina Valjas May, Canada
2016, Feb. 23-28, Maceio, Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa/Elize Maia, Brazil