Snow volleyball returns to Steamboat first weekend of March
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A year after it made its Steamboat Springs debut, snow volleyball is returning to the sand courts at Howelsen Hill.
With the Wednesday, March 4, registration deadline fast approaching, Lucia Howard, founder of SnowVolley USA, said teams from all over Colorado will come to Steamboat for the tournament Saturday, March 7, and Sunday, March 8, to partake in a rapidly growing sport.
Howard got involved with snow volleyball in 2018 when she traveled to Europe to help run a World Tour event. That established connections between her and the founder of the sport, the International Federation of Volleyball and USA Volleyball. Knowing the sport was about to get big in the U.S., she decided to be ahead of the curve and start a tournament in 2019.
Last year’s inaugural event brought in nine teams, six based out of Steamboat.
This year, Howard said she’s expecting to have a few more teams, which require three people over age 18, including at least one female. The format of the two-day tournament will depend on how many teams register by Wednesday, March 4, but Howard said pool play is likely to make the most of Howelsen’s three courts. Sunday, March 8, will just be semifinals and finals. The winning team will be given prizes worth up to $300.
Additionally, there will be food, music, an event announcer, drawings and giveaways. One giveaway will be awarded to the team with the best “uniform.” A uniform isn’t required, but teams got creative last year, wearing coordinating costumes.
There also will be a photo contest for people who post on Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #SnowVolleyballSteamboat.
“Players had pretty good fun, doing a Hawaiian theme or some kind of goofy team outfit,” Howard said.
At the conclusion of the games Saturday, March 7, there will be an after-party at Steamboat BrauHaus. Each player gets a free drink followed by happy hour pricing.
Snow volleyball is most popular in Europe, where there is a World Tour. However, the sport will soon cross the Atlantic Ocean, according to Howard.
“There’s more talk each year that something big is coming to North America next year,” she said.
Coming this spring, Howard is helping Winter Park Resort add a snow volleyball tournament into its beach weekend during Spring Bash and Splash events in April.
Upon founding the sport, the creators of snow volleyball wanted to get the sport into the Winter Olympics. In addition to building a certain level of participation world wide, the Olympic Committee asked that the rules of the sport be altered slightly, so it’s not the same as beach volleyball.
With that, a third player was added. Additionally, when setting the ball, a player can put spin on it, which isn’t allowed in beach volleyball.
Players are asked to bring their own balls to warm up, but Howard has a handful of specially-made Mikasa snow volleyballs.
“You can imagine a beach volleyball, if it gets wet, it gets heavy,” Howard said. “So, if you’re playing on snow, especially if it gets wet from the snow, you have to have a special volleyball. Mikasa came out with this special volleyball last year. I was able to get a hold of two of those, even though they are not for sale, yet. So, we will be play with special snow volleyball balls.”
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