Working overtime for glory
The second day of the Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz was fraught with tension. A capricious southerly wind made precise play difficult and both matches went into overtime. Badrutt’s Palace Hotel and Cartier came out victorious in the «sudden death». Cartier and Maserati will be battling it out for the legendary Cartier Trophy in the Final on Sunday.
Too much fun for just one day, the action at Snow Polo World Cup St Moritz continued Saturday 30 January, with the first match between the runners-up of yesterday’s matches: Badrutt’s Palace Hotel (defeated by Maserati) and Perrier-Jouët (defeated by Cartier). Almost all new to the ice, there was no advantage of experience to be pressed home by either team. Both teams had clearly gained confidence on the snow, less wary and more competitive, and both determined to rack up their first win of the tournament. This made for a competitive game going right down to the wire in an extra chukka.
With a strong, gusty and chilly wind giving the players one more opponent to fight against, it wasn’t long before Badrutt’s Palace Hotel made their mark with a stunning nearside under the neck shot by Merlos to put the boys in blue into the lead at the end of the first chukka.
Chukka two saw the Perrier-Jouët team dominating, keeping the play in their attacking half for the first few minutes, eventually equalising with a spot penalty hit. They then pulled out in front with an impressive goal by Cédric Schweri straight out of a throw-in. This advantage didn’t last long as Merlos powered a 60 yard penalty high and true between the posts. Sticks caught it in the air but Melissa was there to knock the ball in over the line as the chukka ended with 2 goals apiece.
Chukka three started with a great shot on goal by Gaudenzi, but at the last second Luca Zindel threw himself off his horse in a truly heroic save. No harm done, the chukka continued with open play from Perrier-Jouët. This style of polo obviously suited them better, as huge hits from the backs left the two Brazilian forwards to slot in two neat goals, with Novaes unmarked, more often than not. The blues were not to be dissuaded as Gracida answered with a goal in return, finishing chukka three, 5-3.
An exciting last chukka was anyone’s. Opportunities to score came thick and fast and it was Gaudenzi who was first to take advantage with a stunning nearside under the neck shot after an epic coast to coast run. The equaliser came with just one second to go as Merlos’ run to goal saw the ball bounce out of the goal mouth but Gracida was there with the rebound to bring the score to 5-5.
An extra chukka had the audience on the edge of their seats. Starting off scrappy as the teams were desperate for that all important golden goal, the chukka took a while to open up. Tempers were flying as foul after foul were called, and the minutes ticked on with the ball predominately in the Badrutt’s Palace Hotel half. Finally, it was Gracida who was able to put the ball through the posts for Badrutt’s Palace Hotel and bring the dramatic game to an exhilarating end with 6 goals to 5.
Maserati vs Cartier
Expectations were high for the standard of play in the second game of the day as both winners from Friday 29 January’s games met on the frozen lake. Man of the match for Maserati Dario Musso faced the formidable duo of Chris ‘the prof of polo’ Hyde and snow polo veteran Nacho Gonzalez for the first time.
Rommy Gianni and Musso both played for BMW in the 31st tournament of the Snow Polo World Cup St Moritz, but didn’t make the all-important podium place. This year’s line-up for Cartier is the only team in the 2016 edition of the Cup to have players that have previously won the tournament. All the statistics stacked up pretty well for the ‘red-devils’.
The game began with Maserati doing what they did best yesterday, targeting the strongest players. Gonzalez and Hyde were plagued by white shirts throughout the game, however McCarthy and Wooldridge were much more comfortable on the ice, taking more risks for possession of the ball.
The first chukka was smooth with flowing play but despite this there were no whistles and no goals. The second chukka was more productive for the Maserati team as they won and scored two penalties and a field goal, whilst Cartier only managed to score a penalty to end the chukka 3-1 in favour of Maserati. At half time it seemed the defending champion’s place in the Final might be in danger.
Hyde really came into his own in the third chukka, pulling a rabbit out of the hat, he scored two Penalty 3’s to equalize the score and an incredible backhand to take the lead 4-3. Maserati turned the tables in the fourth chukka to match Hyde’s goals one-for-one to end the chukka on 4-4.
Like the first game, play went into a fifth chukka. Hyde and his son Jack’s grey mare Promise, took a nasty fall in front of the stands, but luckily both pony and player were unharmed. It took nearly four minutes before Gonzalez managed to score the golden goal to take Cartier into the Final for a chance to win the trophy for a fourth year. Despite their defeat, the Maserati team were all smiles. They, too, made it into the final on Sunday.