U.S. Team Faces 11 Countries in the First International Polo Match of 2014
Biddle, Escapite and Walton to represent U.S. against national teams from around the globe at the Fortune Heights Snow Polo World Cup in China
The first international polo competition of the year will start January 8th with twelve teams around the world coming to play in the 2014 Fortune Heights Snow Polo World Cup in China. Deemed the largest snow polo tournament of its kind in the world, the event is in its third year hosted by the Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club.
“Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club has set the stage again for another illustrious global polo event,” said Chuck Weaver, Chairman of the United States Polo Association. “We are extremely excited to return for a chance to take the coveted international title.”
The USA team includes Tommy Biddle, Pelon Escapite and Del Walton. Teams consist of three players instead of four, as is typical of field polo. Tommy Biddle has been playing polo since the age of 12, going on to play professionally when he was 18. He has won the 20-goal USPA Monty Waterbury four times and the 26-goal U.S. Open Polo Championship® in 2002; he captained the U.S. team for the 2013 Townsend Cup against England, and captained the U.S. team for the 2009 Camacho Cup versus Mexico. He also maintains the only 10-goal arena handicap in the world, and has a 6-goal outdoor rating.
Pelon Escapite is also rated at 6-goals in outdoor polo, and has been playing medium and high goal polo in the United States since 2001. He has won the 26-goal USPA C.V. Whitney Cup, the 20-goal USPA Ylvisaker Cup, the 14-goal Outback League and the 14-goal Kentucky Horse Park Invitational twice. Pelon was also a semi-finalist at the U.S. Open Polo Championship in 2004.
Delmar “Del” Walton became a professional player at the age of 16. His polo career highlights include winning the 26-goal USPA Gold Cup® twice, and winning the coveted 26-goal U.S. Open Polo Championship title in 2005. He currently holds an outdoor handicap of 3 goals.
Joel Baker is the team coach and manager, and will act as an alternate with a 2-goal handicap rating. He is hailed as one of the top ten polo players in the United States in the early 80’s. Throughout his polo career, Joel has won every major polo tournament in Florida and the western United States ranging from twelve to twenty-six goal competition.
The 14-16 goal handicap tournament will take place January 5th with the finals culminating on the 19th. The USA team will be competing with 11 teams around the world: Hong Kong, Australia, England, Chile, Mexico, Spain, New Zealand, France, South Africa, Canada and Brazil.
“The USPA is fielding what we consider a very competitive polo team in a very competitive international event,” said U.S. Polo Association CEO Peter Rizzo.
Snow polo is a modern variant of traditional field polo, owing the speed to the smaller playing field and hard-packed snow terrain. The ball is red so as to be visible in the field, and made from inflatable vinyl, making it lighter and quicker than a traditional polo ball.
The Federation of International Polo (FIP) and the Chinese Equestrian Association sanction the 2014 Fortune Heights Snow Polo World Cup. Established in 1982, the FIP aims to promote and enhance the sport of polo globally and unite international polo associations across the world. The United States Polo Association is a member of the FIP.