Sunshine, champagne and high-goal action on snow
Two high-class games, played under a bright blue sky, kicked off the 32nd Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz. The only high-goal tournament on snow lived up to its reputation: the two duels on the frozen Lake St. Moritz kept the 2,700 spectators on the edge of their seats.
The snowy action kicked off at midday Friday 29 January 2016 with a thrilling match. The opening game saw Cartier, the reigning champions and fully British team, take on Swiss-Brasilian Perrier-Jouët. With the breath-taking backdrop of the Engadin Mountains surrounding St Moritz and framing the polo field, the tournament got off to an exciting start.
Cartier started the match as they meant to go on, with rock star, Chris Hyde, taking first blood with a converted penalty. Elegant team play between the experienced backs saw Cartier storm ahead with 2-0 at the end of the first chukka.
Determined to get themselves on the score board, chukka two was all about the boys in yellow. Perrier-Jouët started quickly with a run down the boards to score a high speed goal before equalising with an epic backhand goal from Olavo Novaes. Having caught up, Perrier-Jouët were piling on the pressure forcing Hyde and Nacho to work hard to close down the game, but it was one step forward and two steps back as the unstoppable Hyde bought the score to 3-2.
Chukka three got underway with two quick goals from Hyde, 5-2 before a penalty saw the gap increase to 6-2. A minute or so of hectic play and missed backhands meant a goalless last minute before the whistle was blown on the penultimate chukka.
Cartier were in control early on in the last chukka and spectators watched on breathlessly as the game started to speed up, the players’ competitive natures taking over and their confidence on the ice growing. Determined not to go down without a fight, Perrier-Jouët did manage to close the gap slightly with a penalty hit in from Aluisio Rosa bringing the final score to 6-3.
Maserati vs Badrutt’s Palace Hotel
The second game of the day between the white shirts of the Maserati team and Badrutt’s Palace Hotel team in the blue shirts began in a snow flurry of action packed runs. Badrutt’s team Captain Melissa Ganzi certainly didn’t show any nerves in her approach to the game as her teammates took on the pressure from the opposition.
Badrutt’s Palace Hotel were immediately on the offensive but to no avail as the minutes ticked by with no goals. Both teams were pushing hard, testing each other’s skills, but it was Maserati’s Musso who scored the first goal of the game. Chukka two started with a missed penalty by Merlos followed by some sticky play, eventually resulting in a goal for Maserati by the Italian Gianni. A tennis-esque interlude ensued, with each player trading possessions but achieving little. The second chukka ended with Maserati leading 2-0.
Badrutt’s Palace Hotel started the third chukka still without a goal on the scoreboard, the Maserati team having decided that the only way to win was to shut down the top player of the tournament – Merlos. Their strategy was working well, but they couldn’t close everyone down and Ganzi took a fantastic run down the field, to the crowd cheering, but it was Gracida who scored the first goal for Badrutt’s Palace Hotel. Maserati answered this with another goal straight out of the line-out, to end the chukka, 3-1.
The blue shirts entered the last chukka trailing and in trouble. Desperate attempts to win goals, combined with the fierce play from the Maserati team, meant the final chukka started with scrappy and stressed play. A careless mistake from Maserati in front of their defending goal gave Merlos the perfect opportunity to score the second goal for Badrutt’s Palace Hotel. It wasn’t enough though and the Maserati team took the win with a score of 3-2 for the Trois Pommes Trophy.