Snow Polo Finals Set in Aspen
By Alex Webbe
Aspen, the idyllic Colorado hideaway of the rich and famous, served as the backdrop for the 10th Annual USPA Snow Polo Championships. Six teams competed in a two-division, three-team brackets with the opening day being staged in a pair of round-robin formats in a series of two-chukker matches.
Audi (Melissa Ganzi, Kris Kampsen, Juan Bollini), Crestview Farms (Alan Meeker, Alan Martinez, John Eicher) and L’Hostaria (Kishan, Khanna, Mark Goode, Barry Stout) comprised the first division of competition with Audi sailing through Crestview Farms and L’Hosteria.
“It is beautiful here,” said L’Hosteria 9-goaler Carlos Gracida. “The location of the field is at the foot of the mountain and right in the middle of the town,” he added.”
The teams each boasted marquee players with international reputations in the game. Participants this year included players from South Africa, India, France, Mexico, Argentina and the United States.
Although it would be Alan Meeker’s 2008 defending champion Crestview Farms team that would open the tournament with a convincing 5-2 win over L”Hosteria, it would be the Audi team that would emerge from the Saturday round-robin undefeated.
Audi (2-0) scored identical 3-1 wins over both Crestview Farms (1-1) and L’Hosteria (0-2) with Kris Kampsen accounting for two goals in each contest. Teammate Juan Bollini scored single goals in each win as well.
“I love it here,” said Kampsen, who has not only won the Aspen tournament before but has taken top honors in Europe as well. “Aspen is such a great place to play,” he added. “I just love coming here.”
Kampsen is not only adept at playing polo in the snow, but carries an envious 6-goal handicap on the grass, where he competed for the USA against Mexico earlier this year, and has won the Miami Beach Polo World Cup on the sand, as well.
Piaget’s impressive lineup of Nick Roldan, Nacho Figueras and Marc Ganzi had little trouble dispatching Land Rover (James Miller, Stuart Campbell, Chester Trent Lott) and Bombay Sapphire (Oliver Garrard, Clement Pierre, Collin Clark) in straight games in their round-robin.
In its opening division game, Piaget (2-0) relied on two goals from 9-goaler Nick Roldan in the opening chukker to drive off with the 2-1 win over Land Rover. In its second match, Piaget took a 4-2 contest from Bombay Sapphire with Roldan accounting for three goals and Nacho Figueras adding a single goal in the win.
Bombay Sapphire (1-1) scored a 2-0 win over Land Rover (0-2) in the final match of the day with shutout defense and single goals from Stuart Campbell and James Miller.
“The field was in excellent condition,” said Wellington polo veteran Juan Salinas. “Barry (Stout) used a Sno-Cat to groom the field,” he added, “and it played beautifully.”
As a result of the opening rounds of play, undefeated Audi and Piaget had earned the right to play one another in Sunday’s finals. Bombay Sapphire (1-1) would face Crestview Farms (1-1) to determine third place while Land Rover and L’Hosteria would meet in the consolation round.