St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship Gets Underway

The gang is all here for the St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship.

St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship Gets Underway Wednesday at Aspen Valley Polo Club

In a fun, festive atmosphere at St. Regis Aspen Resort Tuesday night, pairings for Wednesday’s opening round of the St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship were determined.

By Sharon Robb
Six teams including defending champion Richard Mille were introduced during the cocktail party for players, sponsors, family, friends and media. 

The draw determined two brackets for Wednesday’s round robin qualifying games at Aspen Valley Polo Club’s indoor arena in Carbondale. Players also received their team jerseys and posed for photos. 

A full house at the St. Regis Aspen Resort enjoys the draw party and kickoff reception.
St. Regis, Flexjet and U.S. Polo Assn. are in Bracket A and Richard Mille, new sponsor Royal Salute and Aspen Valley Polo Club are in Bracket B. 

At 11:30 a.m. (MST), Flexjet plays St. Regis in the opening two chukkers of the first round robin. The winner sits and loser plays U.S. Polo Assn. In the second round robin at 1 p.m. (MST), Richard Mille plays Royal Salute. The winner sits and loser plays Aspen Valley Polo Club. The round robin winners advance into the championship on Friday at 1 p.m. (MST). 

Flexjet’s Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Melissa Ganzi and Juan Bollini.
Action moves to Rio Grande Park in Aspen on Thursday for Media Day and High Alpine Cup game for fifth place at 1:15 p.m. followed by a Celebrity Polo Chukker at 2:30 p.m.  

The final and subsidiary games are Friday at 1 and 3 p.m. (MST). Each night a dinner for players and sponsors will be held.  

One of Aspen’s biggest international sporting events has attracted some of the world’s top players.
Sarah Siegel Magness and Rosie select No. 6 during the draw.
Team rosters are:
Bracket A:
1. St. Regis: Julien Reynes 4, Jason Crowder 7, Nacho Figueras 6. 

2. Flexjet: Melissa Ganzi 1, Juan Bollini 6, Alejandro Novillo Astrada 8.

3. U.S. Polo Assn.:  Grant Ganzi 3, Juancito Bollini 4, Nic Roldan 8.

Aspen Valley Polo Club’s Patrick Uretz, Jesse Bray, Sarah Siegel Magness and Rosie.
Bracket B:
4. Richard Mille: Edouard Pan 4, Louis Jarrige 3, Pablo MacDonough 10. 

5. Royal Salute: Pierre Henri Ngoumou 6, Malcolm Borwick 6, Horacio Heguy 6.

6. Aspen Valley Polo Club: Sarah Siegel Magness 0, Jesse Bray 7, Patrick Uretz 8.

The draw party ended with the St. Regis tradition of champagne sabering, a historic ritual that dates back to John Jacob Astor’s 1904 founding of the St. Regis New York.

Royal Salute Pierre Horacio Heguy, Henri Ngoumou and Malcolm Borwick.

For the seventh consecutive year, Aspen Valley Polo Club owners Melissa and Marc Ganzi are hosting the star-studded event along with Figueras, the sport’s ambassador and St. Regis Connoisseur and his wife Delfina Blaquier. 

In front of an expected sellout crowd and worldwide ChukkerTV audience, three days of exciting polo will take place during the final stop on the 2019 World Polo Tour.

U.S. Polo Assn.’s Nic Roldan, Juancito Bollini and Grant Ganzi.

In addition to defending champion Richard Mille (2018, Marc Ganzi, Martin Pepa, Pablo MacDonough), past St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship winners include: 2017, U.S. Polo Assn. (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Nic Roldan); 2016, Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini); 2015, U.S. Polo Assn. (Grant Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Juancito Bollini); 2014, Piaget (Marc Ganzi, Jeff Hall, Nic Roldan); and 2013, St. Regis (Nacho Figueras, Nic Roldan, Brandon Phillips). 

Richard Mille’s Edouard Pan, Pablo MacDonough and Louis Jarrige.

In the U.S., snow polo is held exclusively in Aspen. Snow polo is a modified version of regulation polo. Games are played on a snow-packed field surrounded by fencing to keep the ball in play. Teams have three players instead of four as in typical polo. Play consists of four chukkers. The horses have special cleated shoes to provide better traction. The ball is larger and lighter and a specific color for visibility on the snowy surface.

St. Regis’ Julien Reynes, Jason Crowder and Nacho Figueras.

The sport was first played on a frozen lake in St. Moritz, Switzerland, created by Swiss hotelier and polo visionary Reto Gaudenzi in 1985 and has been growing in popularity ever since, attracting thousands of spectators and top players from around the world. In addition to St. Moritz, it’s played in winter sports communities Aspen, Cortina, Italy, Kitzbuhel, Austria, Courchevel, France and Tianjin, China. In the U.S., snow polo is held exclusively in Aspen.

Horacio Heguy, Nacho Figueras, Juan Bollini and Alejandro Novillo Astrada congratulate Pablo MacDonough on his recent Argentine Open victory.

Aspen Valley Polo Club had its most successful and historic summer season in club and Rocky Mountain Circuit history. The club hosted several 20-goal tournaments including the 119th USPA Silver Cup and USPA North American Cup, attracted some of the world’s top players and had record crowds every weekend. The 20-goal World Polo League’s Triple Crown of Polo tournament featured five teams and several top players.

Actress and global issues ambassador Saye Yabandeh talks with ChukkerTV’s Dale Schwetz. She will play in the Celebrity Chukker.

With the majestic 12,965-foot summit of Mount Sopris as a backdrop, Aspen Valley Polo Club is one of the busiest USPA-sanctioned clubs in the nation. Since Marc and Melissa Ganzi founded the club in 2014, polo has increased in popularity in Aspen and surrounding cities with the club’s offerings of various weekly grass and arena tournaments,  Tuesday Arena & Asado Nights, Kidz Polo, The Polo School headed by former 8-goaler Juan Bollini, and Polo On Demand. In addition, the club offers practice sessions for teams competing in the club tournaments.

The traditional St. Regis sabering ceremony to end the draw.
Photos by Nick Tininenko for Aspen Valley Polo Club

Since 2014, Aspen Valley Polo Club has had a positive impact in the area hosting kids polo camps, teaching lessons and  several charitable events at the club that have benefitted local charities including  Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation.