(ATR) The International Volleyball Federation replaces sand with snow and summer for winter to showcase a new discipline.
Seven internationally renowned volleyball players, including Brazilian legends Emanuel and Giba, Austrians Nikolas Berger and Stefanie Schwaiger, and South Korean favorite Yeon-Koung Kim, gathered at Austria House to serve, set and spike at Snow Volleyball Night.
No sand, no hard-court, just cold, hard-packed snow. IOC members, Austrian NOC officials, media, fans and other Olympic-goers enjoyed the unique snow volleyball exhibition. Click here for photos.
Fittingly, the sport began in winter sports crazed Austria just over ten years ago. The non-traditional winter sport has grown rapidly with a world tour planned for 2019 and the sport’s first-ever world championship to follow in 2019.
Naturally, the question arose whether the cold weather version of the game could someday be included on the Olympic Winter Games program.
"It is more important to bring snow volleyball to the young people, not to the Olympics," said Austrian NOC president Karl Stoss. "This was a promotion and a very good one.
"We as Austrians are a winter sports nation and this was a great opportunity to show the world that we are not only a strong contender in skiing, but also in snow volleyball."
Prince Albert II joined in on the three-on-three match, demonstrating his best serve. Afterwards, the Prince was asked about the sport’s Winter Olympic potential.
"It is a great example of a summer sport that could transition into a winter sport," said Prince Albert. "It is too early to say if it could be on the Olympic Winter Games program, but at least it is a great effort by the FIVB.
"This snow version of beach volleyball is very interesting, it drew a lot of attention today, had a great atmosphere and everybody enjoys it," he said. "And even the players didn’t mind the cold too much. It is a different approach to winter sports."
Three-time Olympic medalist Emanuel – who is more accustomed to playing on the white sands of Rio de Janeiro – quickly adapted to the unfamiliar playing surface.
"For me as a Brazilian, it is hard to understand how to play in weather like this, but even for a Brazilian it is easy to come and play the best I can in the snow," Emanuel told Around the Rings.
"The elements are tougher, but it is still volleyball – the same skills and preparation. It is fun to play volleyball anywhere."
Reported and written by Brian Pinelli in PyeongChang.
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