Giba in action during Snow Volleyball Night at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang
Wagrain, Austria, March 8, 2019 – One of the most decorated players in the history of volleyball, legendary Brazilian Gilberto Amauri Godoy Filho, better known as Giba, is coming back from his retirement as a professional athlete to take part in the first ever FIVB Snow Volleyball World Tour events. He is teaming up with Olympic beach volleyball medallist Marcio Henrique Barroso Araujo on the national snow volleyball team of Brazil, among the impressive line of candidates to write new pages in the history of this young sport, coming from all five continents.
Thirty-five teams (20 women's and 15 men’s squads) from 18 different countries, representing all five continental confederations, have entered to play in Wagrain from March 28 through 31. The beautiful winter resort in the Austrian Alps, considered the birthplace of professional snow volleyball, is set to become the meeting point of well over a hundred athletes from all over the globe hopeful to battle it out for a spot on the historic podium.
Forty-two-year-old Giba, multiple winner in all major international volleyball competitions – 2004 Olympic champion and three-time world champion, to name a few, and 45-year-old Marcio Araujo, 2008 Olympic silver medallist and 2005 world champion, are joining forces with a couple of young Brazilian beach volleyball hopefuls – 21-year-old Gabriel Heilborn Gouveia and 22-year-old Pedro Henrique Resende Santos
Both the youngsters carry a heavy load on their shoulders. Gouveia is the son of Carlao, captain of Brazil's National Team at the Barcelona 1992 Olympics which won the first Brazilian gold medal at Games. And Santos is the son of another legend on the sand, three-time Olympic medallist Ricardo Santos, who is still active on the World Tour at the age of 44.
Giba is not completely new to snow volleyball, as he got a taste of the discipline as part of the exhibition game that took place at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
A number of other high-profile players have signed up to play at the iconic venue next to the Flying Mozart Mountain Station at an altitude of above 1,800 metres.
Some of the well-known pioneers of snow volleyball, who played the game on the European Tour even before 2016, when it was first organized officially by the CEV, are set to return to Wagrain for the inauguration of the World Tour. Multiple King of the Snow Michal Matyja, a true icon of the winter discipline, is joined by another well-seasoned snow volleyballer – Piotr Groszek – on Poland’s squad. Robert Kufa, who won gold at the first ever CEV European Tour stop in 2016 together with Matyja, will lead the Czech team in Wagrain. Benedikt Doranth, multiple medallist on the European Tour and winner of the big 2017 Snow Volleyball Goes Europe tournament in Wagrain, will partner with other familiar names on the snow, such as Florian Schweikart and Julius Hoefer, to form one of the German squads. A Romanian team will feature the experienced Bogdan Necula, another European Tour regular.
The most recognized face in Austrian snow volleyball, Florian Schnetzer, European Tour champion at Wagrain 2016, will lead the host team expected to attract the largest support from the home crowd on the top of the Alps. Well-known beach volleyball standouts Alexander Huber, a 2016 Olympian, and Christoph Dressler are also part of the Austrian squad.
Russia, whose teams have dominated the men’s snow volleyball scene over the 2018 and 2019 seasons, will be represented by Yury Bogatov, Pavel Rakusov, Petr Bakhnar and Nikita Kuzmin, coming in as winners of the most recent European Tour event, in Bakuriani, and bronze medallists of the two earlier tournaments, in Moscow and Erciyes. As a duo, Bogatov and Rakusov were semifinalists at the inaugural 2018 European Championship in Wagrain.
The men’s tournament will also feature teams from Cameroon, Cyprus, Italy, Slovenia and USA.
Two of the most recognizable faces in the world of snow volleyball, the 2017 Queens of the Snow and gold medallists from the Snow Volleyball Goes Europe tournament in Wagrain, Michaela Knoblochova and Anna Dostalova, are the highlight on the women’s list. However, this time they will not partner as teammates, but will compete against each other as the leaders of two separate Czech squads.
Another iconic snow volleyballer, Silvia Poszmikova, also a former Queen of the Snow, from the pre-CEV era, and gold medallist from the inaugural CEV European Tour stop in 2016, will lead a Slovakian team at Wagrain.
The team of USA, consisting of Karissa Cook, Emily Hartong, Katherine Spieler and Alexandra Wheeler, champions of the first-ever official three-a-side snow volleyball event on the European Tour, held in Moscow in December, will be back hungry for more historic honours from the World Tour stop in Wagrain.
USA, gold medallists at the Moscow European Tour stop
The list of podium toppers from various European Tour stops who will play on Austrian snow at the end of March continues, to include Russia’s Ksenia Khakimzanova and Olga Motrich, Italy’s Cristiana Parenzan and Tania Ferrazzo, Germany’s Michaela Bertalanitsch and Poland’s Marta Swiechovska.
Elisabeth Klopf and Viktoria Mair, who managed a couple of silver finishes on the 2018 European Tour, will be in the heart of one of the Austrian women’s teams to represent the host nation.
The remaining countries to be represented by women’s teams battling for World Tour honours on the snow are Argentina, Japan, Lithuania, Romania, South Africa and Sweden.
The event in Wagrain is the first of three on the 2019 FIVB Snow Volleyball World Tour announced so far. A week later, Plan de Corones/Kronplatz in Italy will host the second. The first Snow Volleyball World Tour tournament to take place outside Europe will be held in August in Bariloche, Argentina.
for the men's entry list.
for the women's entry list.