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The Swiss Alps of Gstaad once again hosted one of the most exciting tournaments of the international season

There is still one tournament to be played before the conclusion of the 2022 Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour - The Finals in Doha from January 26 to 29 - but the inaugural season of the new tour has certainly been a thrilling one so far.

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Taking beach volleyball to the iconic Roland Garros stadium in Paris was one of the highlights of the Beach Pro Tour in 2022

While traditional forces in the sport such as the United States and Brazil were the nations to make the most podium appearances (18 and 17 respectively), some emerging countries on the international scene, like Estonia (one), Slovenia (three), the Philippines (two) and Thailand (three), also collected medals during the season and showed promising signs of progress.

The season began in March, with Mexico hosting back-to-back Challenge and Elite16 events in Tlaxcala and Rosarito. Now including its most recent stop in The Hague, Netherlands, for a Futures tournament, the Beach Pro Tour has visited all five continents.

· Watch replays of the Beach Pro Tour on Volleyball TV.

The highly-competitive Elite16 level took the best beach volleyball players on the planet to nine different locations between March and December – Rosarito (Mexico), Ostrava (Czech Republic), Jurmala (Latvia), Gstaad (Switzerland), Hamburg (Germany), Paris (France), Cape Town (South Africa), Uberlandia (Brazil) and Torquay (Australia).

Brazil was the most successful nation at this level, collecting as many as 12 of the 27 medals that were put in play (three gold, four silver, five bronze). Reigning world champions Eduarda ‘Duda’ Lisboa and Ana Patricia Ramos won more medals at the Elite16 level than any other team with five (gold in Gstaad and Uberlandia and bronze in Jurmala, Paris and Cape Town).

“This tournament was another important step as we continue to build our team,” Ana Patricia said after their victory in Uberlandia. “We’re very happy with what we’ve done so far, but we know we can do a lot more.”

The only other team to win multiple golds was Dutch pair Raisa Schoon and Katja Stam, who triumphed in Rosarito and Paris. American Olympian Kelly Cheng also claimed two golds, winning in Hamburg with Betsi Flint and in Torquay with Sara Hughes.

The other three gold medals went to Germany’s Cinja Tilmann/Svenja Müller (Ostrava), Canada’s Sarah Pavan/Melissa Humana-Paredes (Jurmala) and Brazil’s Talita Antunes/Thamela Coradello (Cape Town).

Challenge tournaments were held at nine other venues – Tlaxcala (Mexico), Itapema (Brazil), Doha (Qatar), Kuşadası (Türkiye), Espinho (Portugal), Agadir (Morocco), the Maldives, Torquay (Australia) and Dubai (United Arab Emirates), which hosted back-to-back events.

Teams from the United States were the most successful at this level with seven medals (three gold, two silver, two bronze), followed by Brazil with five (two gold, five bronze).

With their victories in Tlaxcala and Doha, Brazilians Barbara Seixas and Carol Salgado were the only team to claim multiple victories at the Challenge level. American Sara Hughes won golds with Kelley Kolinske (Itapema) and Kelly Cheng (Torquay).

“I think the chemistry is just there between us,” Hughes said following the gold medal match in Torquay. “We’ve been working really hard this past month since we got back together and we just showed it right there. I think we have a high ceiling, so we are going to keep improving every single day, every single tournament.”

The other Challenge tournament winners were USA’s Taryn Kloth/Kristen Nuss (Kuşadası), Australia’s Taliqua Clancy/Mariafe Artacho (Espinho), the Netherlands’ Emma Piersma/Mexime van Driel (Agadir), Finland’s Taru Lathi/Niina Ahtiainen (Maldives), the Czech Republic’s Barbora Hermannova/Marie-Sara Stochlova (Dubai – 1st) and Germany’s Isabel Schneider/Julia Sude (Dubai – 2nd).

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China's Jie Dong and Lvwen Yuan won one of their three medals in Cortegaça, Portugal

Futures events took international women’s beach volleyball to as many as 16 different countries, with 21 events held since the start of the year, providing players everywhere on the planet with the opportunity to play.

As many as 21 nations were represented on the podium of those events, with China (nine medals), the United States (seven), Italy (seven) and Ukraine (five) ending the season as the most successful countries.