Lausanne, Switzerland, March 19, 2019 – The discipline of snow volleyball continues to go from strength to strength, with the inaugural FIVB Snow Volleyball World Tour just around the corner. However, the history of snow volleyball stretches back many years as an amateur sport, and is now coming to the public eye on a professional level.
Snow volleyball was officially established in 2008, amid the mountains of Wagrain-Kleinarl, Austria. At an altitude of around 1,850m, organisers set up a court on the Flying Mozart Station, attracting hundreds of excited spectators keen to watch the action unfold. The mix of top-level sports and extreme weather fascinated fans and athletes alike.
In just over three years since its birth in Wagrain-Kleinarl, the unique sport continued to boom. 2011 proved to be a milestone year in the history of snow volleyball, as it was finally acknowledged as an official sport by the Austrian Volleyball Federation (ÖVV).
This led to the creation of a Snow Volleyball Tour in 2012 with stops in the winter resort destinations of St. Anton am Arlberg in Austria and at Spitzingsee in Bavaria, Germany.
The lively atmosphere and exciting festival feel of the tour attracted fans from across the world to come and enjoy the sport. The tour continued to grow, to include events in Switzerland, Italy and the Czech Republic.
The European Volleyball Confederation (CEV) Congress in Bulgaria in October 2015 proved to be a landmark occasion for snow volleyball when it was confirmed that the discipline would be added to the CEV’s official calendar.
After that recognition, progress has been non-stop. The first CEV Snow Volleyball European Tour took place in March and April 2016 and, during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, the FIVB signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a non-exclusive collaboration with Chaka2, an events agency based in Salzburg that was the leading force in organizing Snow Volleyball events to that point.
The two parties agreed to work together to develop snow volleyball globally and, in February 2017, the first international snow volleyball competition outside Europe took place at Dizin, Iran’s largest ski resort. Just one month later, the first FIVB Volleyball Your Way Snow Festival was held in Wagrain-Kleinarl.
And the success didn’t stop there. On 14 February 2018, the FIVB and CEV, in partnership with ÖVV and the Austrian National Olympic Committee, showcased snow volleyball outside the Austria House during the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games. “Snow Volleyball Night” featured some of the world’s greatest stars from both volleyball and beach volleyball such as Giba, Kim Yeon-Koung and Xue Chen. The event attracted global media attention, and several IOC members attended the event, cementing snow volleyball’s place as one of the coolest emerging sports.
The inaugural 2018 CEV Snow Volleyball European Championships took place in the birthplace of the sport, Wagrain-Kleinarl, where the first official contest had been held 10 years previous. The continent’s best 24 teams from each gender took to the snow, with Russia’s Ruslan Daianov and Taras Myskiv securing the men’s title after Monika Povilaityte and Ieva Dumbauskaite of Lithuania claimed gold in the women’s event.
The future for snow volleyball looks bright. The European Tour continues to add new venues, and there have been 17 countries hosting a national championship in 2018. The first FIVB Snow Volleyball World Tour is just around the corner, beginning on March 28 in Wagrain-Kleinarl. Future stops include Plan de Corones / Kronplatz in Italy and Bariloche in Argentina.
As it continues to grow, the FIVB’s next aims include a fully-fledged World Championships in 2021, and a spot at the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games as well as the 4th CISM World Winter Games 2021 in Germany and the 30th Winter Universiade in Lucerne, Switzerland in 2021 as well. From a small event in 2008 to a presence on the global stage, the rise of snow volleyball has been rapid and shows no signs of stopping.
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