RIO DE JANEIRO — When Phil Dalhausser ran out onto the beach volleyball court at Copacabana on Monday, the air was calm, despite the stadium’s location right near the rolling waves.
Then came a gust of wind, which, as can be the case in Rio, never really ceased for the next three sets.
“It went from dead calm in the warmups to blowing hard within like a second. It was really weird. It took us a little time to get accustomed to it,” he said.
Dalhausser and partner Nick Lucena knew they were at a disadvantage playing top-ranked Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil on their home court, in front of screaming, chanting fans clad in yellow futbol jerseys.
What they didn’t anticipate was that advantage would extend meteorologically.
“I was impressed with how well they played in the wind. It was tough conditions and they played like there wasn’t any wind,” Dalhausser said. “The wind was really tough on the bad side because it was tough to pass. On the other side, you have to be carful not to set it too tight, or else Alison would be right there.”
Dalhausser and Lucena lost in the quarterfinals to Brazil, 2-1 (21-14, 12-21, 15-9), to end their journey in the Rio Olympics. They went undefeated in pool play, losing only one set, but by virtue of Brazil having lost a match to Austria, the two powerhouse teams had to meet one round before the final four.
“You do your job, you win your pool, and you end up with a bad draw,” Dalhausser said.
Their opponents lamented the fact they had to face each other in the quarterfinals as well. “The quarterfinals was like a final for me, because we were playing a great, great team,” said Cerutti, the 6-foot-8 man-beast nicknamed The Mammoth.
Cerutti was 23 when Dalhausser won beach volleyball gold in Beijing. “Phil sets an example for me,” said Cerutti, arguably the most dominant force in beach volleyball today.
So what does the future hold for Dalhausser, 36, after the Rio Games?
He and Lucena will play Long Beach next week and then the Chicago AVP tour stop. Two weeks later, it’s the World Tour Final, battling the top 15 teams in the world.
Then it’s the offseason.
But what about four years from now, in Tokyo?
“I’ll be 40. I’ll take it a season at a time,” Dalhausser said.
“But really, I’ll tell you what: It all depends on if my sponsors keep resigning me. The last two years, I’ve had injuries. Without my sponsors, I wouldn’t have made any money. With a family, I need side income. I can’t just rely on prize money.”
He paused for a moment.
“If I was single, no baggage, I’d play until I’m 45,” he said, smiling. “Or try to anyway.”
Time will tell for Dalhausser as a volleyball pro. After all, there’s no predicting in which direction the wind is going to take you.
More Summer Olympics coverage on Yahoo Sports:
Listen to Yahoo Sports’ Greg Wyshynski podcast from Rio on GRANDSTANDING, featuring Olympians and NBC cultural correspondents Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski!
Live from Rio: Tara & Johnny Q & A, green fart water, and more: