Let’s Get This Party Started: St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship Kicks Off Tuesday With Draw At St. Regis Aspen Resort
The much-anticipated St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship gets under way Tuesday at St. Regis Aspen Resort with the draw party featuring player and sponsor introductions.
By Sharon Robb
The six team sponsors: Richard Mille, Flexjet, St. Regis, U.S. Polo Assn., Aspen Valley Polo Club and Royal Salute and players will be introduced during a cocktail party at 8 p.m. MST in a fun and festive atmosphere at St. Regis.
The draw and entire tournament will be live streamed by ChukkerTV.
In a holiday setting against a backdrop of snow-covered mountains, the three-day tournament is a major attraction for the local community and fans from around the world. One of the social events of the season is a major allure for the Aspen community and surrounding areas.
One of Aspen’s biggest international sporting events has attracted some of the world’s top players including Argentine 10-goaler Pablo MacDonough coming off a record seventh consecutive Argentine Open victory with La Dolfina teammates Adolfo Cambiaso, Pelon Stirling, Juan Martin Nero and Rodrigo Andrade.
MacDonough heads a star-studded lineup for three days of exciting polo action at Aspen Valley Polo Club and Rio Grande Park. MacDonough will make his second consecutive appearance with the Richard Mille Polo Team, winners of last year’s tournament title.
Mille is the official timekeeper for the St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship. Mille created the RM 53-01 Tourbillon Pablo MacDonough for his Brand Ambassador.
Nero, who was scheduled to compete in this year’s tournament, will be replaced by 7-goaler Jason Crowder. Nero broke his ankle when his horse slipped in the final of the Argentine Open and was replaced by Andrade in the seventh chukker.
In addition to being the title sponsor, St. Regis will return as a team sponsor with team captain Nacho Figueras, the sport’s ambassador, along with Crowder and French player Julien Reynes, coming off the International Cup at Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington, Fla. and sister club to Aspen Valley Polo Club.
The six team sponsors and rosters are:
Aspen Valley Polo Club (15): Sarah Siegel Magness 0, Jesse Bray 7, Patrick Uretz 8.
Flexjet (15): Melissa Ganzi 1, Juan Bollini 6, Alejandro Novillo Astrada 8.
Richard Mille (17): Edouard Pan 4, Louis Jarrige 3, Pablo MacDonough 10.
Royal Salute (18): Pierre Henri Ngoumou 6, Malcolm Borwick 6, Horacio Heguy 6.
St. Regis (17): Julien Reynes 4, Jason Crowder 7, Nacho Figueras 6.
U.S. Polo Assn. (15): Grant Ganzi 3, Juancito Bollini 4, Nic Roldan 8.
For the seventh consecutive year, Aspen Valley Polo Club owners Melissa and Marc Ganzi, will host 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, four days of events willbe held during the final stop on the 2019 World Polo Tour and only snow polo event in North America.
After Tuesday’s draw, polo action will take place Wednesday through Friday at Aspen Valley Polo Club and Rio Grande Park. Two preliminary qualifying round robin games will be held Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Aspen Valley Polo Club in Carbondale.
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. followed by a VIP tent after party. Each night a dinner for players and sponsors will be held.
In addition to 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).
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.
The sport was first played on a
frozen lake in St. Moritz, Switzerland, created by Swiss hotelierand 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.
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.
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.
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 the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation.
2019 St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship Dec. 17-20
12/17 At St. Regis Resort Aspen
8 p.m. Team Presentation/Draw and Cocktail Party
12/18 at Aspen Valley Polo Club
11 a.m. Barn tour & Blacksmith work station
11:30 a.m., Round Robin Game 1
1 p.m., Round Round Game 2
12/19 Press Day at Rio Grande Park
12 p.m. VIP Tent Opens
1:15 p.m. High Alpine Cup, playoff for fifth and sixth place.
2:30 p.m Celebrity Polo Chukker
12/20 at Rio Grande Park
12 p.m. Meet the Players
1 p.m., The Final
3 p.m. The Aspen Cup
4:15 p.m. Trophy Presentation