Three Canadian teams are in Fort Lauderdale for the FIVB World Tour Finals featuring this season’s most elite players.

Among the 10 women’s teams are third-seeded Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan along with ninth-seeded Jamie Broder and Kristina ValjasBen Saxton and Chaim Schalk are the sixth-seed on the men’s side.

Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan at the Gstaad Major in Switzerland, this July.

Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan at the Gstaad Major in Switzerland, July 2015.

This is the first-ever $500,000 World Tour Finals, which is a elite-entry, big purse event. It’s similar to the WTA Finals or ATP World Tour Finals in tennis. And it’s another opportunity for beach volleyball to show off its best. The tournament runs September 29 to October 4, with two pools of five teams feeding into quarters, semis, and finals.

(There’s also an FIVB World Championships with more teams, that was in June/July and Canada did alright, more here)

FIVB World Tour Finals Schedule 2015

The Canadians have had a transcendent season.

A look at the geographic origin of all 20 FIVB World Tour Finals teams. (FIVB)

A look at the geographic origin of all 20 FIVB World Tour Finals teams. (FIVB)

The women have combined for six World Tour medals (one gold, two silver, three bronze) while the men have earned three (two silver, one bronze). Prior to this year, no Canadian women’s team had ever won a World Tour medal. Not one. The men had won a few before but in June Josh Binstock and Sam Schachter (who just missed qualifying for Ft. Lauderdale) won the first medal at a ‘Major’ since 1997.

Chaim Schalk (left) and Ben Saxton receive their medals and cheque at the Olsztyn Grand Slam, Sunday, August 30, 2015.

Chaim Schalk (left) and Ben Saxton receive their medals and cheque at the Olsztyn Grand Slam, Sunday, August 30, 2015.

For the first time, Canada is legitimately a beach volleyball power. Seems weird to say, but it’s true. Since this week is the inaugural event, there’s only history to be made in Ft. Lauderdale.

Although no FIVB ranking points will be awarded in Florida, Canada is also sitting happily with two Olympic spots in each gender. That could change however, the qualifying window ends in June 2016.

Cover photo: Heather Bansley (FIVB)