Snow Volleyball: Give it a chance

Snow Volleyball Final Thoughts: A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

snow volleyball

Of the infinite memories I will take away from this 10-day snow volleyball trip, the lasting one will not be how we performed on the court. It will not be what place we finished (fifth and ninth, if you’re curious). It will not be who set whom and who blocked whom and who bounced what ball the highest. It will not be when we beat Poland or Cameroon or fell to Slovenia and Russia. Really, it won’t be anything about snow volleyball at all.


It will be moments after the women’s gold medal match. It will be of Allie Wheeler and Katie Spieler and Eric Zaun, dancing with the Argentinians, dancing with random kids enthralled with this new concept of American football – worry not, we went nowhere without it – dancing with, God forbid, the Russians.

Yes, even the Russians were united with the Americans. The same Russians whom the Americans had just played in the third consecutive gold medal match, which now leans two wins to one in favor of, unfortunately, the Russians. And yet, there were the Yanks, dancing away with those who had just beat them. A rivalry begat from finals and a language barrier and an unfortunate history between countries, forgotten, maybe briefly, maybe not, by a few drinks, a football, and a strange love for this sport of snow volleyball.

Snow volleyball has its shortcomings. It has its nuances and quirks and bits about it that most who don’t play it – and most who do – will not understand. It’s not as aesthetically pleasing as the beach, not as athletic and explosive as indoor, and yet there’s something about this bizarre little sport, which is gaining momentum, that is totally, absolutely, undeniably lovable.

Did snow volleyball break down the cultural barrier between the United States and Russia? No. Sports, not just snow volleyball, do that from time to time. Just watch the Olympics. But the fact that it did, if just for a moment, is enough a case for snow volleyball for me.

I know. I know.

It’s absurd that the FIVB is allocating precious few resources to this odd sport we haven’t yet heard of, which gets, of all things, snowed out, at times. But is it, really?

Beach volleyball is the most popular sport of the summer Olympics. It’s closely followed by indoor volleyball.

Do you know what happens if snow volleyball – the sport that is such an easy punchline it’s too easy for most on the internet to resist – breaks into the winter Olympics? Reportedly, what happens is additional funding from the IOC. Additional funding for the FIVB.

Additional funding for the sport of volleyball as a whole.

A high tide lifts all boats, does it not?

This is not a resounding call to suddenly flood the IOC with emails and calls in support of snow volleyball. It is simply a call to give it a chance. To understand that this is the long game, not the short game. To understand that, you know what, sometimes things that are weird and quirky and strange can sometimes be quite innovative.

When things are strange and new and awkward and sort of winged a bit, everyone is in the same wild ride together. Sometimes literally.  

We all rode from Austria to Italy together. On the same bus. Eating the same meals. Living and playing by the same rules, some of which we really don’t understand fully just yet (what’s a double in snow volleyball, for instance?).

To understand isn’t really the point just yet. It’s simply to see the potential. To see what this sport – a winter version of the same one we all love – has to offer.

I can tell you that I had more fans at my quarterfinal match in Wagrain than I have had at any AVP, p1440 or NORCECA I’ve played in, and I’ve played in quarterfinals of the latter two. I can tell you I had more fun playing in that quarterfinal than anything else. And I can tell you that it really doesn’t matter much what surface this sport is played on.

I just love volleyball.

Give it to me indoors. Give it to me on the sand.

Give it to me on the snow.

I’ll play either way.

I’d recommend you watch either way, too. You might just see something you’ve never seen before.