2016-10-27 12:35:00 CEST

2016 rewind: Fun in Fortaleza and smiles in Sochi

Fun in Fortaleza and smiles in Sochi

Italians Lupo/Nicolai soared to success at the Sochi Open. Photocredit: Mihai Stetcu.Italians Lupo/Nicolai soared to success at the Sochi Open. Photocredit: Mihai Stetcu.

The glorious 2017 beach volleyball calendar was unveiled earlier this week – but with an agonizing three months until we touch down in Florida for the Fort Lauderdale Major and get our fix of the beach again, we continue our look-back at the rollercoaster 2016 season.

The thrills and spills on the sand continued to come thick and fast. After a wet and windy two weeks in China, attention turned to weather more suited to beach volleyball: sunshine!

However, temperatures soared at a sizzling Fortaleza Open at the end of July so much that the gold medal match saw German duo Erdmann/Matysik retire due to the sheer strength of the sun. It meant they had to settle for silver and handed Brazilians Oscar/Andre the title on home sand.

Home advantage was a big thing in Fortaleza, especially for the women as the podium was packed with Brazilians. Young gun Duda, just 17, and partner Elize Maia claimed gold, beating Juliana/Lima in the final while Rebecca/Lili secured bronze and the fans were lapping up the success.

From the sweltering temperatures of Brazil to the calmer, cooler climbs of Southern Russia, the following week saw the World Tour up sticks and set up shop in Sochi for the Sochi Open.

While the South Americans dominated in Fortaleza it was a different story in Sochi as European teams powered their way to the podium, taking five of the six medals up for grabs.

Swiss stars Heidrich/Zumkehr won gold, beating Spain’s Liliana/Elsa in a gripping women’s final, while German girls Holtwick/Semmler completed the European line-up by winning bronze.

In the men’s competition the Russian fans almost got the result they craved but Krasilnikov/Semenov could not crack Lupo/Nicolai in a one-sided final that saw the Italians march to an impressive straights sets victory. Joining them on the podium were Americans Hyden/Bourne, who won their fourth medal of the season with bronze.

With teams jostling for Olympic ranking points and eyeing qualification for the upcoming Swatch Major Series tournaments, competition on the sand was getting stronger with every passing week!

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