Wagrain-Kleinarl, Austria, March 30, 2019 – Florian Schnetzer is without a doubt the iconic face of Austrian snow volleyball. He has been an integral part of developing the new discipline almost from the time it all started on the Alpine slopes of Wagrain-Kleinarl a decade ago. With the first event on the inaugural FIVB Snow Volleyball World Tour, co-organized with the CEV, taking place at the same venue this week and Schnetzer being a key player on one of the host teams, he took time to speak to fivb.com about his passion for this exciting up-and-coming sport.
Schnetzer admitted that Giba and Marcio Araujo were his idols when he was growing up after winning the Wagrain-Kleinarl quarterfinal against them
You are one of the snow volleyball pioneers. Can you please tell us your story on getting involved with the sport?
Florian Schnetzer: I think it was eight years ago when I found out about the snow volleyball tournament in Wagrain. The pictures and the videos of it looked really fun, so I wanted to be part of it. From the first moment, I really loved it and enjoyed it, so I continued playing. After several years of experience on the snow, I still think it’s a great sport and a lot of fun. And with that panorama around, at two thousand metres above the sea level, it’s a unique thing.
How do the athletes in Austria and Europe, in general, feel about the development of this new sport?
Florian Schnetzer: Everybody recognizes the sport now. There were a lot of sceptics at the beginning, but as they see how the sport is developing, more and more players get involved and learn to like it.
How does it feel to play snow volleyball? Is it harder than beach or indoor volleyball?
Florian Schnetzer: For me, it’s totally different. It’s really slippery, so it is all about having a good coordination and being able to move well in these conditions. Ball control is also really important. You need to be a complete volleyball player and master all the techniques – setting, bumping, hitting, serving – similar to beach volleyball, but with the additional condition that the moving is even more difficult.
Flo Schnetzer in action on the Wagrain-Kleinarl centre court
Why is it important to develop the sport and do you think it has the potential to grow further in Austria and around the world?
Florian Schnetzer: I definitely think so. You see now we have delegations from all over the world attending the event in Wagrain-Kleinarl. Many different countries start developing the sport and it is most important that snow volleyball is not played only in Europe, but it’s played all over the world, if we want to pursue our Olympic dream. My motto is “Always believe!” So why not apply it to snow volleyball...
How do you feel about your home country Austria always being such a pioneer in the sport and currently hosting the first ever event on the FIVB Snow Volleyball World Tour?
Florian Schnetzer: For me, it really comes down to one person, Martin Kaswurm, and his company Chaka2. They play such an important role in developing the sport. They are masters in organizing great events and know how to involve the people in celebrating and loving snow volleyball. You see here, in Wagrain-Kleinarl, the centre court was already packed on Friday, even before the actual weekend has started. Organizing big events is the right way to develop the sport.
Why, in your opinion, is Austria so interested in hosting major snow volleyball events?
Florian Schnetzer: We are known as one of the best winter sports countries. Snow is a really important thing for every Austrian, so there is a natural connection between our national culture and snow volleyball.
Pretty much every year you get personally involved with the annual Snow Volleyball Kids Day here, in Wagrain-Kleinarl, and you take on the role of a charismatic role model for the young generation. Why is it important for you to do this?
Florian Schnetzer: Because the children are our future. They always need someone to look up to, especially in getting involved in sports. Volleyball is such a beautiful sport you can play together, and I want to share my love for the sport with the kids and hope to inspire them to love it and enjoy it as much as I do.
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