Q&A with Todd Rogers: He and Dalhausser open world tour in Brazil

Todd Rogers, pictured, and Phil Dalhausser begin the FIVB season this week in Brasil.

So, what do you do for an encore?

Local beach volleyball professionals and Olympic gold medalists Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser enter the 2011 FIVB-Swatch World Tour after experiencing the greatest international season ever in the sport. The No. 1-ranked duo in the world won a record nine tournaments and had podium finishes in three others (2nd, 3rd and a 4th).

Before heading off to this week’s season opener in Brasilia, Brazil (where they are defending champions), Rogers and Dalhausser trained with teams from Italy, Austria and New Zealand at the East Beach courts.

One of their goals this year is to win back the World Championship in Rome. They won it in 2007 — the year before capturing the Olympic gold in Beijing — and finished third in 2009.

This is an intriguing year for pro beach volleyball. With the domestic AVP Tour no longer in business, American players who don’t play on the international circuit will be scrambling to find tournaments to play.

It’s also is an Olympic qualifying year. In the past, American teams qualified by accumlating points based on their results on the FIVB Tour. USA Volleyball is considering a plan to run an Olympic Trials tournament, but nothing has been announced.

Todd Rogers at a training session on East Beach last week. (Presidio Sports Photos)

Rogers talked about the qualifying, pro beach volleyball in the U.S. and the upcoming FIVB season in a Q&A with Presidiosports.com

PS: First off, when and where does the FIVB season begin for you and Phil?

TR: Brasilia, Brasil. We leave on the 17th.

PS: How many tournaments are you scheduled to compete in this season?

TR: Planning to play either 12 or 14 FIVB events. Last year we played 12 along with 7 AVP events. At this time, we are unsure if we are playing at all here in the states. There are some events but we will see how they go first before we make a decision.

PS: Isn’t there an event planned at the Olympics venue in London?

TR: Yes, but it is a women’s event.

PS: Is this an Olympic qualifying year? What is the process to qualify for the London Games?

TR: January 1, 2011, until sometime in June or July of 2012. Right now USAV wants to run Olympic Trials, but frankly I think it is a mess. It will be interesting to see what happens.

PS: How many U.S. teams will be playing on the FIVB Tour this season?

Phil Dalhausser is widely recognized as the best beach player in the world right now.

TR: At least 4, probably 5 and maybe even 6 or 7 from each gender.

PS: I hear many of the U.S. players are planning to set up a home base somewhere in Europe for the FIVB season. Is that true? Are you and Phil planning to stay there during the season?

TR: That was the plan but then some things changed on the FIVB season. There was going to be something like 10 straight weeks on the FIVB tour with 9 of them in Europe so it made sense. But, the World Championships in Rome went from two weeks to one week, so that freed up a week in June. One of the events in July is in Canada; one of the events in August got cancelled, so really we will only be in Europe for three weeks once.  The rest of the time it will be two-week stints.

PS: After your record-setting 2010 season on the international tour, what kind of goals have you set for this season?

TR: We don’t expect to win nine out of 12 again. Last year was a great season.  I think the tour will be a lot tougher.  Brink/Reckermann from Germany should be healthy and whole.  They missed half the season last year. Ricardo/Marcio have another year under their belt playing together as do Allison and Emanuel from Brasil. Plus, all the other American teams I expect will be primed and ready as well. Should be fun. I think a good season on the FIVB for any team is winning 4 maybe 5 events.  Nine was unexpected, but we will try to match it. Hopefully, we can regain our World Championship title.

PS: What is going on with pro beach volleyball in the U.S.? Will there be any kind of tour(s) for those who don’t play overseas? Will you and Phil and the others playing abroad compete in any domestic events?

TR: If I had the answer to that question I would probably be running a new pro tour (said with grin). The Corona Wide Open Tour will be rolling along, Albert Hannemann has the NVL (National Volleyball League) and USAV is trying to run the Beach Championship Series (BCS).  Supposedly, there may be a couple of events that might have enough prize money that, if we are not playing in the FIVB then, we could play in those.  None of this stuff in my book is set in stone. Tough to answer those questions at this time.

PS: Do you know if the FIVB has any plans to stage an event in the U.S.?

TR: I have heard USAV say they are going to have a FIVB event here at home over the last couple of years, so I don’t put any stock in it until an event on the FIVB calender says ‘USA.’

PS: Besides the Kiwis, have you trained with any other foreign teams during the offseason?

TR: Yes, the Italians three times and an Austrian team once.

PS: At 37, you’re not a spring chicken anymore on tour. How do you feel physically and mentally going into a grueling international season, playing against these tall, athletic, talented younger teams from around the world?

TR: I actually feel really good this offseason.  No injuries so far, a little bit sore at times after a couple of tough workouts but still plugging away. Fortunately for me, I have never claimed to be more athletic or tried to be more athletic than all the tall, young guys out there. They are bigger, stronger and faster, BUT … beach volleyball still has an element of experience and smarts. A place where I tend to be okay at.

PS: Is the goal of playing in the London Olympics and defending your gold medal keep you guys focused and going strong?

TR: YES. I am having a lot of fun, too.

PS: How was your offseason? Are your kids playing sports now? Are you coaching them?

TR: Offseason was great. Both kids have been playing sports. Hannah (12) does rodeo and plays soccer and volleyball. I coached her AYSO All-Star team this past season. It was fun but tough.

PS: I see that Spalding is a new sponsor. Any other new ones?

TR: Waiting for the paperwork to sign a car deal. When I get it signed I will let you know. It is a small car, though (said with a laugh).