Russians net European Tour gold to upset former ‘Queen of the Snow’
Khakimzanova was not a rookie on the European Tour since she had finished second earlier this season at the Turkish stop in Uludag, but Syrtseva was contesting her first international tournament on the snow. She did not have to wait for too long to net a gold medal and cement Russia’s role as volleyball powerhouse – regardless of the surface you play on.
One week after topping the charts at the Russian Snow Volleyball Championship in Sochi with regular partner Alexandra Moiseeva, Syrtseva had something more to celebrate. “I really enjoyed this tournament, it was very well organised, not to speak about the magnificent view and background we could enjoy from the top of this mountain. I still focus my career on beach volleyball and hope I can achieve some good results this year. As for the snow, I like it very much and I think I will play again.” The Russian team won the tournament dropping only one set along the way – this happened in their third-round fixture with Germany’s Tiana Nicolaus and Florentina Büttner.
Syrtseva and Khakimzanova were well prepared for this tournament as the domestic competition is a tough one – Khakimzanova had finished ‘only’ ninth in Sochi and now she is standing on top of a European podium. As for Cicolari and Bertolaso, they were happy with their result on home snow. “We just came here for the fun of a weekend on the snow, but of course I like competing,” said Cicolari, a 2011 European Beach Volleyball champion. “Actually Alice is my boss at work – she runs the beach volleyball centre where I coach in the outskirts of Milan. We played together for the first time here in Kronplatz; we needed some time to find each other, so to speak, and to develop some kind of chemistry. After all, it was a good experience for someone like me who loves any kind of competition.”
The 2017 ‘Queens of the Snow’ Anna Dostalova and Michaela Knoblochova had to be content with the bronze medals to cap their participation in this year’s European Tour. The Czechs were able to forget the disappointment they suffered in the semifinal with Cicolari/Bertolaso to rally to a 2-0 (13-11, 11-8) victory over Viktoria Mair and Marilena Preiml of Austria. “It is a pity we lost the semifinal that way,” Dostalova said. “However, we knew it was going to be a close affair since we had played Cicolari in last year’s final and we expected it to be a tough battle. We were able to regroup and finish the Tour with a bronze medal. We wanted more but we are still happy with the result.”
Dostalova delighted the audience with some great defence actions and once again, she confirmed she does feel extremely comfortable when playing on the snow. “I have been playing as a libero for many years and when you do this indoors, you have to learn to move fast and dive in order to catch the ball, and sometimes the surface is not any softer than the snow we have been playing on here. I just love this game and I am definitely planning to come back again next year!”
For more detailed information on the European Tour, visit SnowVolleyball.com and the CEV’s dedicated pages.