Volleyball is vying to become the first sport played at both the Winter Olympics and Summer Olympics.
In order to do so, the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) and European Volleyball Confederation (CEV) will host a snow volleyball exhibition on Feb. 14 at Austria House at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
“We believe that volleyball is now accessible to everyone, from the summer to the winter, from the beach to the mountains,” FIVB president Dr. Ary S. Graça Fº said in a release. “It is our mission to be the world’s number one family sport, and snow volleyball brings us closer to this goal.”
Volleyball has traditionally been played either indoors or on sand, but snow volleyball has gained traction since 2008 where it was played in the mountains of Wagrain, Austria. The Austrian Volleyball Association acknowledged snow volleyball as an official sport three years later, with the Snow Volleyball Tour being created in 2012. The game expanded to Switzerland, Italy, and the Czech Republic, resulting in its recognition by the CEV. The first Snow Volleyball European Tour was held in 2016.
“It’s adding a different challenge to the sport which has been around 100-plus years,” said American professional beach volleyball player Ryan Doherty. “I’m not opposed to it. Will I be playing in it? Heck no. I’m not going anywhere near snow volleyball. More power to the players who play. I’m sure it will find its niche.”
Similar to beach volleyball, snow volleyball is played with two-person teams competing against each other. Currently, 17 European nations host national snow volleyball championships. The inaugural CEV European Championships comprised of 24 teams from each gender will be held March 23-25 in Austria.
The upcoming exhibition in South Korea will feature current and former players from around the world, including three-time Olympic medalist and three-time world champion Giba (Brazil), and two-time Olympic medalist Vladimir Grbić (Serbia), as well as beach volleyball players Emanuel, who won three Olympic medals for Brazil, and Xue Chen, who won bronze with China.
Regardless of the result of the showcase, Doherty sees it as a positive for the sport, though he won’t be transitioning from sun and sand to snow just yet.
“We’re a hugely growing sport, especially beach volleyball,” he said. “I can’t help but think it would draw more eyes to us as a whole… I’m going to wait and see how it unfolds before trying it out. Maybe I’ll eventually throw on my parka and go out there.”