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Wintertime Equestrian Fun: World Snow Polo Championship!

Filed under: The Buzz |     

ASPEN, COLO.–Dec. 19, 2013 

PMG press release by: Sharon Robb

Wellington’s Nic Roldan high-fives teammate Nacho Figueras after St. Regis Hotels and Resorts polo team’s practice chukker. Photo by Gary Hubbell courtesy of Grand Champions Polo Club.

Wellington’s Nic Roldan high-fives teammate Nacho Figueras after St. Regis Hotels and Resorts polo team’s practice chukker. Photo by Gary Hubbell courtesy of Grand Champions Polo Club.

After a brief practice session on Thursday, world-class polo players got down to business Friday at the Piaget World Snow Polo Championship at Wagner Park in downtown Aspen.

Some of the world’s greatest polo players including Argentine brothers Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres, two of only six players in the world with the perfect 10-goal rating, competed on the final stop on the 2013 calendar for the World Polo Tour.

Melissa and Marc Ganzi of Aspen Valley Polo Club, sister club of Wellington, Fla.-based Grand Champions Polo Club, along with Nacho Figueras and Larry Boland, president of Piaget North America, hosted the polo extravaganza. St. Regis Hotels & Resorts is the official hospitality partner and Audi is the official car.

“This has been a great event for many years,” said organizer Marc Ganzi, who grew up in Aspen. “But it’s an event we felt that had more potential with the opportunity to bring some of the best players in the world and bring great horses from Wellington (Fla.) up here. To create a great venue with great partners has never been done before.

“I think America needed a really high-end competitive snow polo event and I think we have done that here,” Ganzi said.

Melissa Ganzi of Audi practicing with her teammates. Photo by Gary Hubbell courtesy of Grand Champions Polo Club

Melissa Ganzi of Audi practicing with her teammates. Photo by Gary Hubbell courtesy of Grand Champions Polo Club

On Thursday, players and horses got a chance to practice and acclimate on the snowy surface and prepare for Friday’s three-team round robin tournament. They also enjoyed a St. Regis brunch, talking with media members from around the world and sharing good times with friends, family VIPs and sponsors in the VIP Pavilion before getting down to business.

Team roster lineups for the championship are:

Audi: Facundo Pieres, Melissa Ganzi, Juan Bollini.

Piaget: Gonzalito Pieres, Marc Ganzi, Kris Kampsen.

St. Regis Hotels & Resorts: Nacho Figueras, Nic Roldan, Brandon Phillips, an all-pro team.

“I think people in Aspen will enjoy polo very much and will get to love it as much as we all do,” said Figueras, the sport’s ambassador and face of Ralph Lauren. “Marc and Melissa Ganzi have been talking the last few years about taking this tournament to the next level and we think that this year we have.

“Marc and Melissa have been supportive of polo all over America and they have done a great job in Wellington and I think Aspen is their next step,” Figueras said.

There was a full schedule of activities on Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. After the national anthem by Jeannie Walla, a singer and teacher at the Theatre Aspen’s After School Program, and flag presentation, the much-anticipated tournament got under way.

The awards ceremony and team presentations followed along with a lavish VIP After Party.

PoloLine TV live streamed Friday’s championship.

Polo fans were able to relax and watch world-class snow polo from the heated VIP Pavilion while enjoying mountain fare from the The St. Regis Aspen Resort, including the brand’s signature Afternoon Tea Service along with cocktails from Johnnie Walker Blue.

Nacho Figueras of St. Regis Hotels and Resorts polo team taking to the snow for practice chukkers. Photo by Gary Hubbell, courtesy of Grand Champions Polo Club.

Nacho Figueras of St. Regis Hotels and Resorts polo team taking to the snow for practice chukkers. Photo by Gary Hubbell, courtesy of Grand Champions Polo Club.

The VIP Pavilion ticket includes full access, lunch courtesy of The St. Regis Aspen Resort and cocktails provided by Johnnie Walker’s mixologist.

General admission is free to the public and was first-come, first-serve bleacher seating on the east side of the park.

All proceeds benefit Sopris Therapy Services and Aspen Sister Cities.

Sopris Therapy Services is a non-profit organization that provides Equine Assisted Therapy and rehabilitation in a ranch-setting to children and adults with various disabilities.

Aspen Sister Cities’ mission is to share ideas and cultures through the international exchange of students and All proceeds benefit Sopris Therapy Services and Aspen Sister Cities. Both charities depend on community support.

SNOW POLO FAST FACTS

Snow polo was first introduced in 1985 at the resort town of St. Moritz, Switzerland and attracted several hundred spectators. In the U.S., snow polo is held exclusively in Aspen, Colorado. Snow polo is a modified version of 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 arena polo. Play consists of four seven-minute chukkers. The horses have special cleated shoes to provide better traction. The ball is larger and lighter and bright red for visibility on the snowy surface.

Horses have special cleated shoes to provide better traction in snow polo. Photo by Gary Hubbell courtesy of Grand Champions Polo Club.

Horses have special cleated shoes to provide better traction in snow polo. Photo by Gary Hubbell courtesy of Grand Champions Polo Club.

ASPEN VALLEY POLO CLUB

CONTACT INFORMATION: Phone: 970-710-1663 and email: aspenvalleypolo@bellsouth.net.

ABOUT THE CLUB: The nation’s newest private polo club still in its’ developing stages features a complete facility offering stick-and-ball field, club house, wooden horse polo pit, exercise track, indoor school, arena, pony hire, livery, coaches, stable and turn to hire and grooms accommodations.

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