Wagrain-Kleinarl, Austria, March 27, 2019 – Wagrain-Kleinarl, the birthplace of snow volleyball, is about to leave its name on another important page in the history of this spectacular up-and-coming sport, as the first ever event on the FIVB Snow Volleyball World Tour is set to get underway in the Austrian Alps on Thursday, co-organized by the CEV.

Some ten years after the first professional snow volleyball tournament was organized on a court next to the Flying Mozart Mountain Station at an altitude of above 1,800 metres, and about one year after the first CEV Snow Volleyball European Championship was held at the same iconic venue, the first official FIVB snow volleyball competition, featuring teams from all five continents, will take place from March 28 through 31 in Wagrain-Kleinarl.

33 teams (17 men’s and 16 women’s squads) from 20 different countries, representing all five continental confederations, have registered to battle it out for the distribution of US$ 20,000 of total prize money. In each gender a 12-team main draw will feature four round-robin pools of three, with the pool winners advancing directly to the quarterfinals and the second- and third-placed teams moving forward to the first elimination round.

With eight teams seeded directly into the main draw, the remaining four spots will be contested in qualifications to be played on Thursday, March 28. On the men’s side, there will be three round-robin pools of three, with the winners progressing to the main draw. Round-robin pool play with the three runners-up will determine the last qualifying team. The women’s qualifications will be played in a double-elimination format with eight teams.

The best known name in Austrian snow volleyball, Florian Schnetzer, will lead one of the home teams in main draw action, starting on Friday, and he is really excited about the opportunity to play at this historic World Tour stop on home snow. Schnetzer is a gold medallist from the first CEV European Tour event in Wagrain-Kleinarl in 2016. In 2017 he earned silver at the Snow Volleyball Goes Europe international tournament held at the same venue, and achieved a fifth-place finish at the inaugural 2018 European Championship in Wagrain-Kleinarl and Flachau. “I am really looking forward to this World Tour event,” he said. “When I think about the emotions from last year, with an amazing crowd pushing us, I am sure it will be a great weekend again. For me, it will be the first time playing the new three-a-side system. In my opinion, this is a great step forward for the sport. We will try everything to get a medal for our country.”

The women’s main draw will be graced by the presence of former European Queen of the Snow Michaela Knoblochova, who will lead one of the two Czech teams at Wagrain-Kleinarl. After winning gold at the 2017 Snow Volleyball Goes Europe and finishing fifth at the 2018 European Championship, this will be the third time Knoblochova will compete at this iconic venue. “It is so exciting!” she exclaimed. “Our whole team is looking forward to it. I have tried the three-a-side format twice, but it is still new to me. And I have a new team, so we will see how it goes. We will do our best on the court, but we also want to enjoy the event as a whole – the game, the atmosphere, the players, the friends, the fans… And, yes, I want to take another dip in the hot tub and spend some time relaxing in the sun.”

In addition to Knoblochova’s Czech Republic 1, the teams of Argentina, Austria, Italy, Japan, South Africa, Russia and United States are seeded directly into the women’s main draw.

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