OKBet Volley: First Steamboat Snow Volleyball Tournament
The sand courts at Steamboat Springs’ first winter volleyball tournament near Howelsen Hill were still covered in snow on Saturday, but that didn’t stop nine teams from competing in the event.
Participants swung, spiked, and even flat-out slipped their way through volleys in the hopes of taking home the $300 cash prize. Each competitor’s goal was to win the competition.
Lucia Howard, who was born in Slovakia, was the person in charge of organizing the two-day tournament, which was held under the banner of Snow Volleyball USA.
Before the matches of the day in steamboat began, the three-person teams got together to go over the rules. In an effort to keep warm, the majority of people sipped coffee out of cups from Starbucks. At nine in the morning, one woman had already poured herself a glass of India pale ale.
The majority of the game is played in the same manner as beach volleyball, but there are a few key differences. The snow made the net sit a little lower than usual, and the ball is constructed in such a way that it can perform well in wintry environments.
According to Howard, “it’s basically a beach volleyball, but it’s waterproof,” which is a description of the item.
She was able to bring a couple back with her from snow volleyball competitions that she helped organize in Europe, which is where the sport is more widely played.
Teams competed in Steamboat’s historic sporting events after making the trip from all over Colorado.
The tournament was attended by Zuzana Jakubova, a friend of Howard’s who is also a native of Slovakia. Jakubova made the trip to Denver from her home in Colorado. It had never occurred to her or her team, Turtles on Snow, to play volleyball outside of the summer months.
They had a few practices leading up to Saturday, but their primary goal was to simply have fun while they were there. They were having a conversation about the day’s matches as they gathered a few of them behind their SUV.
“I can’t tell you anything about it, but we do have a plan,” Jakubova said.
Despite the fact that this strategy seemed to involve a lot of falling on the snow, the team was able to win their first match against Dollz with Ballz, which was made up of three women from Winter Park.
The majority of the dives for his team were performed by Tony Almanzan, who is also a member of Turtles on Snow. In contrast to the cleats that his teammates were wearing, he opted to wear a pair of Nike sneakers.
After taking a step in a patch of slush, he yelled out, “I’m sliding everywhere!”
Although Almanzan is no stranger to playing volleyball, taking the sport into the snow presented an entirely new level of difficulty for him. His first match taught him to take things more slowly and carefully in subsequent matches.
He said that if you try to react too quickly, you will only end up slipping and falling.
Additionally, residents of Steamboat came out to compete. As the name of his team, At Least Two Swingers, suggests, Steve Fletcher was a dedicated player of beach volleyball and was a member of At Least Two Swingers. Colleen King and Beau Bell soon joined him, and the three of them dressed in matching Hawaiian shirts as their uniforms.
Fletcher reported that the snow on Saturday was significantly more compacted and easier to navigate compared to the previous week, when the team attempted to get some practice in.
He said that in order to get out here, “we were post-holing.”
It’s possible that there are some issues that need to be ironed out, but that’s typical for any new development.
According to Howard, the sport of snow volleyball has been around for only about a decade so far. A man named Martin Kaswurm from Austria is credited with founding the sport at a ski resort in his native country of Austria. In 2008, he and his family constructed a court, and in 2009, they played host to a modest amateur competition that was modeled after Howard’s.
Since that time, the sport has expanded to include more serious competitors and has gained recognition on an international scale.
Howard stated that over the past two years, there has been an increase in the amount of commercialization.
The International Federation of Volleyball (FIVB) has acknowledged snow volleyball as a legitimate sport and was instrumental in making the inaugural event of the Snow Volleyball World Tour possible in Austria last week.
It is the long-term objective of the federation to have the sport compete in the Winter Olympics, but in the meantime, they are working toward the establishment of a world championship by the year 2020.
This is an objective that Howard also has, and he has high hopes of expanding the local tournament both next year and in the years to come. She has long-term plans to move it to Steamboat Resort, which has more expansive vistas and more favorable snow conditions.
Howard has stated that “we will make sure that we will have many more tournaments.”
No matter the weather on Sunday, play is scheduled to continue with the matches.
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