Aland, Finland, June 10, 2012 – Following four years as a double-gender event, the FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour will return to Finland again in 2012 and this year it will be for a women’s only tournament.
Following on from a successful 2010 event, the $190,000 Paf Open will take place on the Isle of Åland at Mariehamn from August 28 to September 2. This year will be the first time this event will be a single-gender tournament with the women’s World Tour competing this year.
It will also be the second of three women-only events on the 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour this year and the second to the last event for the women’s season. The first women-only event was in April in Sanya, China and the last women’s event of 2012 will be the $190,000 Bang Saen Thailand Open powered by PTT on October 23-28.
In another change from previous years, the Finland Volleyball Association will be the sole hosts after the Sweden and Finland Volleyball Associations previously hosted the event together.
The 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour is offering a total purse of $6.32 million in prize money and features 13 events for each gender, including the 2012 London Olympic Games. There are six single-gender events, three for each gender. The international beach volleyball circuit is visiting 16 sites in 15 countries including four of the five FIVB Confederations.
In 2011 China's Chen Xue/Xi Zhang were crowned women's champions for the second straight year. In winning the gold Xue and Zhang beat USA’s Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh. Three-time Paf Open champions Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca of Brazil went home with last year’s bronze medal for their efforts.
It is expected that once again the Paf Open will play a pivotal role in determining the women’s season point champion of the 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour. The internationally-televised women’s medal matches will be held on September 2.
Åland is situated at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia and forms an autonomous Swedish-speaking administrative province, region and historical province of Finland. It is the fourth time that national federations have joined forces to stage a FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour event as the aim of the Paf Open is to contribute to the development of beach volleyball in Finland and Sweden and both national Volleyball federations see Åland as the perfect spot to host the world’s best players.
With about 25,000 permanent residents, Åland attracts more than two-million visitors each year. After staging the inaugural Paf Open in 2007, the FIVB SWATCH World Tour has returned each year since 2009.
With six total, Brazil has won the most women’s medals in Finland, followed by China with four and the United States with two. In addition to their three gold medals, Juliana/Larissa have one bronze and the other two Brazilian medals are a pair of bronze won by Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes.
Besides their gold medal, China’s Xue/Zhang have won a silver and a bronze in Aland and countrywomen Jia Tian/Jie Wang have one silver medal. USA’s two medals were both silvers earned by May-Treanor/Walsh last year and Jennifer Kessy/April Ross in 2009.
For more information on the event, visit www.pafopen.com