First, it was an anomaly being presented for entertainment value in PyeongChang. Now, snow volleyball is ready to take a formal step onto the world stage.
The new 3x3 format has been approved by the European Volleyball Confederation (CEV) to try and increase the chance of the sport entering the Winter Olympics, according to CEV President Alexander Boricic. News of the development was carried in Inside The Games.
In March, Austria hosted the first-ever European Snow Volleyball Championship which was won by Russia. Boricic explained the 3x3 format was chosen after 3x3 basketball made it onto the program for the Summer Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020.
"We want to achieve the same with snow volleyball so that it becomes a candidate for inclusion in the program of the Winter Olympic Games," he said.
The exhibition event at PyeongChang featured stars of both the classic and beach formats, including Olympic champion Vladimir Grbich from Serbia and three-time Olympic medalist Emanuel Rego from Brazil.
According to news published on the Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB)’s website, the international governing body is committed to working toward the acceptance of snow volleyball:
It is the wish of the FIVB and CEV to work hand in hand in order to make snow volleyball a marketable product and to support all national federations in their efforts to develop this variation of the game, while providing a consistent framework and structure that will lead to its ultimate long-term and sustainable growth. To this extent, as the two organizations share the same ambition to innovate and provide fans with a truly unique experience, snow volleyball will undergo a defining change with all future competitions due to feature three players on each side of the net. This will help make snow volleyball even more recognizable and strengthen its specific identity and features.
Closer to home, USA Volleyball couldn’t be more excited about the possibilities.
“Snow volleyball is in its infancy in the U.S., but I believe it has huge potential,” Jamie Davis, CEO of USA Volleyball, told Sports Destination Management.
Davis says it’s simply a matter of helping the sport get up and running in this country. And since it has a format like that of beach volleyball – which relies on a fast, physical game on the court and a party atmosphere among spectators – it could, at least in theory, transfer easily to a resort setting. In fact, USA Volleyball is already on the case.
“You could start with exhibitions at the bases of ski resorts, down near the gondola,” Davis said. “We are in conversations with some major chains now.”
By placing courts at the base of the resort, Davis noted, where they would be visible to those enjoying après-ski drinks and food, the sport and its athletes would have excellent visibility. It would also be possible to leave courts set up for pickup games. Most people already know the rules (or at least the basics) and the equipment is inexpensive to purchase and install.
With colleges having led the charge for beach volleyball, Davis says, it’s not a huge leap to think the sport of snow volleyball could gain traction there as well, particularly at the intramural and club levels in areas where snowy winters can be counted on.
If the sport continues to build momentum, there is already a strong pool of players who not only already know how to play and have the necessary skill set, but who will be likely to want to replicate it closer to home.
“That could be a real game-changer,” says Davis.