Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, March 19, 2017. Slovenia celebrated a historic gold on the CEV Snow Volleyball European Tour at the first ever stop in the small Alpine country. The team of Tadej Bozenk/Danijel Pokeršnik, who were seeded bottom 20th in the men’s main draw and suffered a defeat in the second round, made a fantastic winning run through all five legs of the losers’ bracket to eventually emerge victorious from the big final and top the podium on home snow.
Pokeršnik, the 2011 “King of the Snow”, and Bozenk never played on the CEV European Tour before, but gained some experience as a team on the snow at February’s international season opener in Iran. They were placed at the very bottom of the seeding in Kranjska Gora by the will of the draw, and they played as many as nine matches for the two competition days of the tournament, losing only one, and heroically persevered all the way through to the top.
On Sunday morning, the Slovenian pair went through victories over sixth-seeded Germans Florian Schweikart/Simon Kulzer and fourth-seeded Poles Piotr Groszek/Tomasz Cwiertnia, to whom they had lost on Saturday. In their semi-final match, Bozenk/Pokeršnik overcame the third-seeded Austrian duo Florian Schnetzer/Helmut Moser with a hard-earned 2-1 (11-8, 7-11, 11-8).
The other semi-final also went to a tiebreaker set. It featured a dramatic clash between the two top-seeded teams - Michal Matyja/Karol Szczepanik from Poland and Robert Kufa/David Kufa from the Czech Republic. The Czech brothers came back from a set down to advance to the final with a 2-1 (9-11, 14-12, 11-7) win.
The third place match also had to resort to a third set to determine its winner. Schnetzer/Moser managed a 2-1 (11-4, 8-11, 11-4) victory over Matyja/Szczepanik to take the bronze medals home to Austria.
In the final match, much anticipated by the home crowd, Tadej Bozenk/Danijel Pokeršnik were on fire. Charged by the cheering fans, they stayed in control throughout the match and cruised to the victory in three straight sets – 3-0 (11-6, 11-7, 11-8).
“Amazing! Everything is good now. We had a strong opponent in the final, but we played in our home country,” said an elated Danijel Pokeršnik immediately after the winning point. “Everything here was prepared very well. The organisation was good. We are extremely proud that we achieved this gold. Next week we are going to the international tournament in Wagrain-Kleinarl and I hope that we play this well there too.”
“This is a great success for Slovenia!” exclaimed Metod Ropret, the president of the host country’s national federation. “These guys went to play all the way to Iran, so they are very dedicated to Snow Volleyball and want to be successful in this sport. Their achievement will be a good promotion for Volleyball in our country, in general.”
For further information on the European Tour, click here or visit SnowVolleyball.com.