Wherein DF travels to Mitteleuropa and recounts his merrie adventures to his adoring broad readership.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The last thing I expected to see in Innsbruck

Was a beach volleyball tournament, not least because there is no beach in Innsbruck. Yet as I walked through the town a couple mornings ago, I heard the deafening blare of rap music, and followed it to find a makeshift stadium alongside the River Inn, with an imported sand volleyball court and all.

There was no cost for admittance, so I walked on in and watched a few sets (I think they are sets--the groups of points that are played till 21, with the first team to two sets winning). The women were pretty good, I think. They looked the part at least: tall as all hell, wraparound shades, scandalously skimpy clothing. There was a team in red and one in black, and even this novice could tell that the red team was more skilled, so I of course had to root for the underdog reds.

I looked through some promotional materials while I was there and was surprised to learn that beach v-ball is kind of a thing in Austria. Apparently the country won the European Beach Volleyball championships a couple years back, and there appears to be some kind of national Austrian Beach Vball league (of course, I could have this all wrong--it was all printed only in German). Good for them, and all, but it seems like a really strange avocation for a landlocked country where it`s cold as a witch`s teat a lot of the time. Alpine sports like skiing or bobsled I could get, or even sports that don`t require a certain kind of climate or geographical feature, like running or soccer, find, but beach volleyball would never have occurred to me as an Austrian pastime. But apparently it is, so hey, good for Österreich.

Anyway, the first set went to the black team pretty handily. Between sets and at breaks, the DJ at the court cranked up the (American) rap music to a deafening volume in, it seemed, an attempt to fire up the crowd. As it was 11am, and the tiny stadium was only half-full with people who, like me, had just wandered in out of curiosity, the announcer`s demands that we get pumped up seemed kind of ridiculous, and they certainly didn`t produce anything more than a few reluctant, coerced claps. As the second set started, I began to root more for the red team, as did most of the people present, with the result that the red team started to turn it on and make some good plays. They were up by eight or so points, though, when it all fell apart--the black team eventually got on a roll, the reds fell apart, and the black team steamrolled to another clear victory. At that point, I was kind of enjoying watching the games, but that was it for that match, and when they brought out the next team, it was dudes, so I (along with most of the male spectators) took off.