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2017-06-22 09:32:00 CEST

More Than Sports: Beach Roomies aiming for the World Champs

The beach apartment in Vienna

To the top: Roommates Julian Hörl, Lena Plesiutschnig and Kathi Schützenhöfer. Photocredit: Lena Ple-siutschnig.To the top: Roommates Julian Hörl, Lena Plesiutschnig and Kathi Schützenhöfer. Photocredit: Lena Ple-siutschnig.

When they say goodbye at the apartment door, Kathi Schützenhöfer, Lena Plesiutschnig and Julian Hörl know it normally won’t be for long. “See you in Rio,” they say or “Let’s meet later in Poreč.”  All three represent Austria at international tournaments, and week after week, they travel around the world, reaching out for ranking points and prize money.

From their journeys, they come back to the apartment with lots of new experiences – not forgetting something else: lots and lots of sand. “The sand is everywhere, it’s a total disaster!” Lena tells us, laughing. Between one tournament and the next, there is laundry all over the place. “Our whole floor is filled with it,” she says. A short while ago, the washing machine broke down having been faced with so much laundry. “Maybe it was because of all the sand in our clothes, but I am not sure,” Julian says.

Green fingers and kitchen aid

Last autumn, 25-year-old Julian moved in with Lena and Kathi. “I like living with them very much,” he says. When he’s not playing beach volleyball or working on his studies in sports and physics, Julian loves playing board games with the girls. “We are all very addicted to them,” Kathi, 23, tells us. DOG, which is like Ludo with upgraded rules, is currently the most popular in the apartment. 

Julian, Kathi and Lena love playing board games. Photocredit: Lena Plesiutschnig.Julian, Kathi and Lena love playing board games. Photocredit: Lena Plesiutschnig.

They also cook a lot together – but in doing that, the roles are clearly defined: “The girls are so good at cooking that I am more the kitchen helper,” Julian admits. Lena and Kathi are also the ones who look after nutrition in the house, buying enough fresh fruits and vegetables for the group. Green fingers are not so common between the three roomies, however. “Once, we had two plants, but they didn’t last long,” reveals Julian.

World Championship dreams

It’s understandable that watering plants is not easy when you’re traveling around the world the whole year. At the moment, Lena is playing with Conny Rimser, Kathi is the partner of Steffi Schwaiger and Julian is playing with Xandi Huber, whose partner was initially Lorenz Petutschnig, but he had to take a break due to a shoulder injury. Lorenz had been Lena’s and Kathi’s roommate before Julian.

Julian’s former partner Daniel Hupfer decided to end his playing career and concentrate on developing the Austrian beach volleyball tour and help young players. Therefore, Xandi and Julian will play together until the end of the season. 

Lena and Kathi have already booked their place at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships presented by A1 in Vienna this summer, as part of Austria’s number one and two women’s teams.

However, for roommate Julian, it remains to be seen whether he will be joining them on the Danube Island between July 28 and August 6. The final men's Austrian wildcard at the World Championships will be decided with a trial before the tournament.

“We would be so happy for Hörli if he can make it there,” says Lena. “He’s worked so hard for it.”

Julian’s happy face – but imagine his delight if he secures a place at the World Championships. Photo-credit: FIVB.Julian’s happy face – but imagine his delight if he secures a place at the World Championships. Photo-credit: FIVB.

For the three roomies, it would be ideal if they were all competition at the World Championships. They live just six stations by metro away from Danube Island, where the best beach volleyball players of the world will meet between. Nevertheless, during the tournament, players will live in a hotel. “It’s kind of funny playing in your hometown and not living at home,” says Kathi. “But I like being in a hotel, absorbing the atmosphere of the tournament and being with the other players.”

Roof top happenings

Now though they all appreciate their flat in Vienna. “We have a big roof terrace and love to invite friend for barbecue,” Julian says.

Our flat is a bit like a center for beach volleyball players in Vienna,” Kathi says.

She loves being among people. When Kathi came to Vienna, she immediately looked for a flat with Lena, and, two years ago, they moved into the bigger apartment. When it comes to the sport, Lena and Kathi, who played for seven years together, are separated at the minute. “The plan of our actual partnerships is until Tokyo 2020,” Kathi tells us. The friendship of the two girls has no end date, says Kathi. “I hope it will last forever.”

Lena Plesiutschnig and Kathi Schützenhöfer pictured playing at the Poreč Major last summer. Photocredit: Martin Steinthaler.Lena Plesiutschnig and Kathi Schützenhöfer pictured playing at the Poreč Major last summer. Photocredit: Martin Steinthaler.

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