Rio prepares for next FIVB World Tour stop

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, April 23, 2017 - With entries totaling 146 teams from 31 countries with less than month before the start of competition, organizers for the FIVB World Tour stop in Rio de Janeiro are busy preparing a new site for staging the 18th international Beach Volleyball stop for men and 10th for women in the city that hosted the 2016 Olympic Games.

The May 17-21 FIVB World Tour stop will be the first of three "four-star" events on the 2017 international Beach Volleyball calendar as the Rio stop will be staged at the Olympic Park Barra da Tijuca starting with qualification tournaments for both men and women.  The event will feature US$300,000 in prize money with the winning pairs in each gender’s competition sharing the $20,000 first-place prizes.

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Star structure

With other “four-star” FIVB World Tour events being staged in Switzerland (Lucerne, May 23-28) and Poland (Olsztyn, July 19-23), the 2017 Rio Open will feature “modified” pool play matches with group action starting May 18 with the elimination finals scheduled for May 20 to set the lineup for May 21’s medal matches.

The "star" structure is being instituted with the 2017 FIVB World Tour as the FIVB moves to modernize and streamline its competitions in a "golden period for Beach Volleyball" following the successful competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as the "road" to the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games begins.

“The aim of the new structure is to provide a platform and formation of events that increase the number of competitions in a growing number of hosting countries and create a sustainable business model while providing additional commercial flexibility and opportunities,” said FIVB President Dr. Ary S. Graça F°.

Olympic champions return

The 2017 Rio Open will be highlighted by the return to the Brazilian coastal city by reigning Olympic champions Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil and Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst of Germany.  The mid-May event will mark the first appearance in 2017 for Ludwig, who has been sidelined since December due to shoulder surgery.

While Alison and Bruno were placing fifth in their first 2017 start at a SWATCH Major Series stop at the start of February in the south Florida resort of Fort Lauderdale, Walkenhorst finished 17th with Julia Grossner in the “five-star” United States tournament where pairs from Brazil topped the men’s and women’s podium.

The men’s 2017 Rio field will also include Italy’s Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai (silver) and The Netherlands’ Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen (bronze), the other two Olympic medal winning teams at the 2016 Summer Games.  This past week in China at the “three-star” Xiamen Open, Brouwer and Meeuwsen defeated Lupo and Nicolai in two sets to tie the FIVB series between the two teams at 6-6.

The other two women’s teams that medaled on Copacabana last August will not be competing together at the Olympic Park Barra da Tijuca next month.  Brazil’s Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas, the 2016 Olympic silver medal winners, ended their partnership following the Copacabana competition while Americans April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings have not entered the event.

Agatha teamed with Eduarda “Duda” Lisboa to place second in the Fort Lauderdale event after dropping the gold medal match to Brazilian rivals Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca, who finished fourth in the Rio Olympic Games after losing to Ross and Walsh Jennings in the bronze medal match.  Barbara and new partner Fernanda Alves placed fifth in Fort Lauderdale as did Ross and Walsh Jennings.  The Americans were eliminated in three sets at the south Florida stop by Agatha and Duda.

Rio men Olympians

In addition to the four 2016 Olympic medal winning teams (Alison/Bruno, Lupo/Nicolai, Brouwer/Meeuwsen and Ludwig/Walkenhorst) scheduled to compete in the Rio Open, nine other men's pairs and three women's tandems that participated in the Copacabana Summer Games have entered the "four-star" Olympic Park Barra da Tijuca tournament.

Men's pairs entered in the Rio Open are Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst of Austria (ninth-place Rio Olympic finish), Ben Saxton/Chaim Schalk of Canada (ninth), Esteban and Marco Grimalt of Chile (19th), Nivaldo Diaz/Sergio Gonzalez of Cuba (fifth), Markus Bockermann/Lars Fluggen of Germany (19th), Alex Ranghieri/Adriana Ignacio of Italy (ninth), Lombardo Ontiveros/Juan Virgen of Mexico (ninth), Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak of Poland (17th) and Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera of Spain (ninth).

Ten men players that competed in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games have entered the 2017 Rio Open as Russians Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Nikita Liamin have combined forces after competing on Copacabana last August with Konstantin Semenov and Drmitri Barsouk, respectively.  Both pairs were eliminated by Lupo and Nicolai with Barsouk and Liamin in the quarter-finals and Krasilnikov and Semenov in the semi-finals.

Brazilians Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Solberg, who placed ninth in the Olympics after being ousted by Barsouk and Liamin, are entered in the 2017 Rio Open with Andre Loyola and Gustavo Carvalhaes, respectively.  Evandro and Andre placed second in the 2017 FIVB season opener in the United States with Pedro and Gusto 17th at the early February event in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Other men 2016 Olympians entered in the 2017 Rio Open are Robin Seidl of Austria (ninth with Alexander Huber on Copacabana, now playing with Tobias Winter), Sam Schachter of Canada (19th with Josh Binstock, now Sam Pedlow), Christiaan Varenhorst of The Netherlands (fifth with Reinder Nummerdor, now Maarten Van Garderen), and Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel of Poland.  Fijalek and Prudel placed 17th in the Olympics and are now playing with Michal Bryl and Kacper Kujawiak, respectively.

Rio women Olympians

Women's pairs with Rio 2016 credentials are Ana Gallay/Georgina Klug of Argentina (19th), Louise Bawden/Taliqua Clancy of Australia (fifth) and Barbora Hermannová/Marketa Slukova of the Czech Republic (17th).  The 2017 Rio Open field will also include 16 women’s players that participated in the 2016 Summer Games, including quarter-finalists Heather Bansley/Sarah Pavan of Canada, Ekaterina Birlova/Evgeniya Ukolova of Russia and Joana Heidrich of Switzerland.

With Nadine Zumkehr retiring, Heidrich is now playing with Anouk Verge-Depre, who was paired with Isabelle Forrer to place ninth in the 2016 Olympic Games after being eliminated by Ludwig and Walkenhorst.  Bansely and Pavan are entered in this year’s Rio stop with Brandie Wilkerson and Melissa Humana-Paredes, respectively.  Nadezda Makroguzova and Anastasia Barsuk are the new partners for Birlova and Ukolova, respectively.

Dutch women entries at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games have changed with the retirement of Jantine van der Vlist and the addition of Manon Nummerdor-Flier.  Madelein Meppelink and Marleen Van Iersel, who placed ninth together in the Olympic, are now play with Sophie Van Gestel and Nummerdor-Flier, respectively.  Van Gestel and van der Vlist placed 19th in the Copacabana Games.

Other women 2016 Olympians entered in the 2017 Rio Open are Nicole Laird of Australia (19th with Mariafe Artacho on Copacabana, now playing with Phoebe Bell), Jamie Broder of Canada (ninth with Kristina Valjas May, now with Shanice Marcelle), Marta Menegatti of Italy (ninth with Laura Giombini, now with Diane Perry), Kinga Kolosinska of Poland (ninth with Monika Brzostek, now with Jagoda Gruszczynska), Elsa Baquerizo of Spain (ninth with Liliana Fernandez, now with Amaranta Navarro) and Lauren Fendrick of the United States (19th with Brooke Sweat, now with Lane Carico).

2017 FIVB World Tour

Highlighting the 2017 international calendar for men and women Beach Volleyball players will be the $1-million FIVB World Championships July 28 through August 6 in Austria and the $800,000 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals August 23-27 in Hamburg, Germany.  Alison and Bruno are the defending champions for both events after winning the 2015 world title in The Netherlands and the 2016 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals for the second-time in Toronto, Canada.

While Talita and Larissa are the two-time SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals gold medal winners in 2015 at Fort Lauderdale and 2016 in Toronto, the 2017 FIVB World Championships will not have a defending champion as Agatha and Barbara captured the 2015 gold medal by defeating Fernanda and Taiana Lima at The Hague.

With $5.335-million in prize money, the 2017 FIVB World Tour ranking system will include 15 other events for men and 19 additional stops for women featuring three SWATCH Major Series stops per gender, four-star (three per gender), three-star (four for men, three for women), two-star (one for men, three for women) and one-star (four for men, seven for women) Open events along with additional pre-approved tournaments at the inter-continental, continental and national levels.

Early returns

With the SWATCH Major Series stop in Fort Lauderdale being the opening event on the 2017 FIVB World Tour calendar, five other events have been held in Iran (Kish Island), Australia (Shepparton and Sydney), Malaysia (Langkawi) and China (Xiamen).  The Kish Island (men) and Sydney (women) stops were single gender events.

All the early-season gold medal winners have entered the 2017 Rio Open, including Americans Kim DiCello/Emily Stockman (Langkawi), Brazilians Saymon Barbosa/Alvaro Filho (Fort Lauderdale), Talita/Larissa (Fort Lauderdale) and Barbara/Fernanda (Xiamen), Australians Christopher McHugh/Damien Schumann (Shepparton), Canadians Julie Gordon/Camille Saxton (Shepparton and Sydney), Cubans Nivaldo Diaz/Sergio Gonzalez (Langkawi), Dutchmen Brouwer/Meeuwsen (Xiamen) and Russians Krasilnikov/Liamin (Kish Island).


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