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2016 Review: World Tour Finals perfect cap to memorable year

 

A packed stadium for the 2016 Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals in Toronto

Lausanne, Switzerland, December 30, 2016 – Playing on Polson Pier in Toronto, Canada, the 2016 Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals proved to be a fitting ending to a memorable 2016 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour.

In a reprise of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Copacabana Beach, Brazil won the men’s gold and Germany powered its way to the women’s gold medal in Toronto.

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The long and sandy road for a season that actually started in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in October of 2015, moving its way around the world finally ended in Toronto, Canada at the second annual Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals. A total of 24 top teams competed in Canada with the winning teams in each gender earning $100,000 on top of adding to their gold medal collections.

Golden again
When the final points were scored, Brazil’s indomitable Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt had captured gold again like they did on Copacabana. In the women’s competition, Germany’s unflappable Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst topped a perfect dream season with the gold medal in Toronto just as they did in Rio.



Men's podium

In the men’s gold medal match, another all-Brazilian final saw Olympic champions Alison/Bruno hold off fellow Olympians Evandro Goncalves/Pedro Solberg. Capturing the men’s bronze medal in Toronto was USA’s Tri Bourne/John Hyden over Canada’s Ben Saxton/Chaim Schalk.

Women's podium
The women’s competition saw the final four teams include only 2016 Olympians. In the gold medal match, Germany’s Ludwig/Walkenhorst defeated Switzerland’s Joana Heidrich/Nadine Zumkeher. Earning the bronze medal was another Swiss team, Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Vergé-Dépré who upset Brazil’s Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca.



Hail & farewell

Toronto was the end of a long run for the players and for two Olympians. Josh Binstock of Canada and Nadine Zumkehr of Switzerland announced their retirements as the Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals came to a close in September. German Olympian Britta Büthe revealed her retirement plans, joining her countrywomen Ilke Semmler/Katrin Holtwick  during the German championships following the Olympics.

Long journey
In 2016, Poland’s Bartosz Losiak/Piotr Kantor played in 26 tournaments to get the best Olympic qualifying spot possible. Holtwick/Semmler, plus fellow Germans Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude, played in 25 events and fell just short of a berth in Brazil.

Olympic silver medallists Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas announced their split as a duo following the Olympics after playing in 41 FIVB World Tour tournaments together including winning the 2015 World Championship in the Netherlands and the silver medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The United States teams are also undergoing changes. Olympians Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson are 40 and 36 respectively, with Gibb having the chance to become the first four-time Olympian in his country’s history. So does Phil Dalhausser, 36, the gold medallist from Beijing in 2008.



On the women’s side, will Kerri Walsh Jennings try to become a six-time Olympian? In addition to her three gold medals and one bronze on the beach, she competed for the USA indoor team at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

One player who has inspired the tour was USA’s 43-year-old Hyden, who came close to qualifying for the Olympics with Tri Bourne, but did reach the Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals and finished with a bronze medal.

Brilliant Brazilians

The collection of medals keeps growing for Alison/Bruno, who won the gold medal at the 2015 FIVB World Championships in the Netherlands. They finished their season with four gold medals and two silvers in the nine events they played, including gold in Rio on their home sand. They finished the season with a 48-8 match record and a season-high $306,000 in prize money won.

Marvellous Germans
For the 2016 FIVB World Tour, Ludwig and Walkenhorst won gold medals at seven of the 13 events the Germans entered with eight podium placements, nine final four finishes, a 69-10 match record and $392,375 in winnings to compile the best-ever international campaign for a men’s or women’s beach volleyball tandem from their country. They also won the 2016 FIVB World Tour season point championship, a first for a duo from Germany.



Looking back

At the inaugural Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals in 2015 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA, winning the gold medals were Brazil’s Alison/Bruno for the men and for the women, the gold medal was won by Brazil’s Talita/Larissa.