2nd annual Steamboat Snow Volleyball Tournament attracts athletes from hours away (with video)
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — As the Snow Bunnies and Cool Parents competed in the Steamboat Snow Volleyball Tournament at Howelsen Hill on Saturday, March 7, an issue kept arising. Since they were combating on an end court, if the ball was batted out of bounds, someone had to go get it. It usually didn’t go far, but the challenge was trying not to get totally soaked by sinking into the snow.
The courts and spectator area were packed and groomed, but there was a stretch of ungroomed snow on the outskirts of the courts.
Denver resident and Snow Bunnies team member Nicholas Patterson slid across the snow on his belly to prevent sinking, while teammate Chriscilla Fitzsimmons opted to choose her steps wisely, looking for existing footsteps.
“As soon as you try to start stepping through the snow, all your weight is on one foot, so you sink,” said Patterson. “If you just lay down, it’s distributed. You just got to bear crawl.”
With the weather pushing 50 degrees, no one seemed to mind diving into the snow to retrieve the ball.
All three players traveled from Denver to participate in the second annual Steamboat Snow Volleyball Tournament, put on by Lucia Howard, the founder of Snow Volley USA.
Their team chemistry had to be developed instantly, since Patterson and Jett Almanzan had just met Fitzsimmons that day. The pair planned on competing together, but when their required female teammate dropped out, Almanzan reached out to Howard, who recommended Fitzsimmons.
“Lucia and I go back several years back in Oklahoma where she was also leading the volleyball scene,” said Fitzsimmons. “She’s been a good organizer and a good leader. I’m happy to come out here and support her tournaments.”
A few teams made the trip from Denver, another from Avon, but none traveled farther than Balls Deep, a team of sand volleyball players from Salt Lake City, Utah, who had never played the sport on snow before.
“We all met playing sand, and we like to pretty much play wherever, whenever,” said team member Alicia Gustafson. “We saw a thing that said snow volleyball, so we were like, ‘Hell yeah, let’s go try it.’ So we went for it. It’s fun.”
Gustafson said packed snow is a drastically different surface than sand, saying her cleats hadn’t served as much help to prevent slipping. She had to add an aspect to her game of trying to guess how her feet and the ground would react to different movements.
Locals were not left out, as the Alcoballics, who seem to participate in nearly every recreational league available in Steamboat, were there to represent the host city.
“I feel like this tournament is the start of organized sports for the summer,” said team leader Brittany Kohler. “It’s just now starting to get nice outside, and it’s kind of a kickoff to the summer sports.”
Kohler and her teammates, Lizzy Konen and Jacob Warden have played indoor and sand volleyball in the past, so they came into the tournament with some knowledge of the sport and how to be successful as a team.
No matter where they were from, few participants had played snow volleyball before, but most had competed in some form of the sport.
“Many of these players are beach volleyball players and a highlight for me is them saying this is so much fun,” said Howard. “Because they never play on snow, they don’t know what the sport is about, and they are saying they’re having an amazing time.”
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