Paul Kitagaki Jr./Sacramento Bee/MCT via Getty Images
Phil Dalhausser, left, and Todd Rogers celebrate winning gold in beach volleyball on Friday, August 22, 2008
London-bound, Phil Dalhausser is armed with gold to keep the away the jitters.
Standing six-foot-nine, Dalhausser is one of the giants of beach volleyball – literally and figuratively. With teammate Todd Rogers, the pair won the gold medal at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. Now, Dalhausser will arrive in London, seeking a repeat.
Only two people make up a beach volleyball team, much smaller than the teams that compete indoors. Each player has to cover more ground (not to mention the difficulty of moving on sand), so Dalhausser’s massive frame is a huge benefit to Team USA.
Beach volleyball could also be greatly affected by the weather conditions at the tournament site, and Dalhausser says the nature of the matches invites weather to be a major factor.
“Weather in beach volleyball is a huge component,” said Dalhausser. “We actually switch sides every seven points, because of the weather. The sun may be beating down on one side, or the wind might be blowing on one side, and gives that side an advantage.”
A rainy day could also change the outcome of a match, as well as the consistency of the sand used in competition. According to Dalhausser, only lightning and gusty winds can stop a beach volleyball match.
Olympians are used to the wind, though. Beaches and wind are synonymous with one another, and it’s just an aspect the athletes have learned to tame, as much as possible. But Dalhausser knows, as much as anyone, there’s one wind direction that can’t be used to a player’s advantage: a tailwind.
“Tailwind is a little tougher, because the ball sails -- the wind gets behind the ball and sails it out of the court,” said Dalhausser. “And when you're setting, on the tailwind side, it tends to go towards the net. And that's when you get in trouble.”
The duo of Dalhausser and Rogers didn’t get into much trouble in Beijing, taking home their first gold medal in 2008. Four years later, they’ve punched their ticket to London, and the elements are waiting for Team USA on the other side of the pond.