The inaugural snow volleyball European Championship starts in Austria tomorrow ©Getty Images

Snow volleyball, which was played as an exhibition at last month's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, reaches another milestone tomorrow with its inaugural European Championships in Austria.

A total of 48 teams - equally split between men and women and from 18 countries - will travel to the birthplace of the sport to contest the European Volleyball Confederation (CEV) pilot event in Wagrain-Kleinarl and Flachau, which runs until Sunday (March 25) and will be broadcast live on Eurosport and ORF.

A European Tour has taken place since 2015, and this year's version includes six stops in four countries.

The men's teams from Russia have been the dominant force on the Tour this year - with Ruslan Daianov and Taras Myskiv and Ruslan Bykanov and Maksim Hudyakov claiming two gold medals each.

They will carry Russia's hopes in Austria together with Yury Bogatov and Pavel Rakusov, winners of the Russian National Championship in January.

Russia are the only country with a maximum of three teams competing in the men’s tournament along with hosts Austria - whose contingent features national champions Alexander Huber and Martin Streitfellner, with Florian Schnetzer and Daniel Müllner and Benedikt Kattner and Mathias Seiser having taken the two remaining spots for the host country.

Snow volleyball, on show at the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang as an exhibition, will hold its first European Championship in Austria over this weekend ©Getty Images
Snow volleyball, on show at the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang as an exhibition, will hold its first European Championship in Austria over this weekend ©Getty Images

The reigning "King of the Snow", Poland's Michal Matyja, will compete in Wagrain with partner Piotr Janiak after earning enough points from the European Tour to make the cut.

Apart from Russia and Austria, Poland and Switzerland are the only countries with more than one entry - two apiece - for the men’s tournament.

Alexei Strasser and Sébastien Chevallier, a 2012 Olympian, who are the reigning Swiss Snow and beach volleyball national champions, will be trying to leave their mark once they take to the court on the Austrian Alps as well.

In the women’s tournament, Turkey's Buğra Eryildiz and Aleyna Vence have collected three golds from this year's European Tour and are among the favourites.

Austria have three entries, including their national champions Elisabeth Klopf and Viktoria Mair.

Lithuania also have three teams, including beach volleyball stars and national champions Monika Povilaityte and Ieva Dumbauskaite.

Reigning "Queens of the Snow" Anna Dostalova and Michaela Knoblochová of the Czech Republic will also be among the medal contenders.

"Together with the organisers and the Austrian Volleyball Federation, as well as with the valuable support provided by the International Volleyball Federation, we are truly making history in the Austrian Alps as 24 teams per gender compete to become the first-ever snow volleyball European champions," said CEV President Aleksandar Boričić.

"This rapidly growing sport provides us with the opportunity to bring volleyball closer to a much wider audience - and we do so with a lot of positive energy and vibes.

"I very much look forward to a true volleyball party in Wagrain-Kleinarl, the birthplace of snow volleyball, and to an event that will lay the foundations for the further development of this cool, fresh sport."