The 2021 St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship earned five out of five stars from co-host and Aspen Valley Polo Club co-owner Marc Ganzi, who said the weekend turned out to be one of the best he’d seen since the inception of the event.
The championship took place last Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Rio Grande Park and marked the last stop of the World Polo Tour. Ganzi said that everything from the weather to the turnout went as well as it ever has, thanks to the participation of the community and partnerships with the city of Aspen and Aspen Skiing Co.
“It’s impossible without really great partners,” Ganzi said. “It turned out to be a nice event and judging by the 350 people that showed up Saturday and 500 people that showed up on Sunday, it’s putting people into beds and it’s putting people on the ski mountain. It creates an extra week of activity in town before everybody shows up for Christmas and New Years week.”
On Sunday, the Richard Mille Polo Team claimed victory with a 9-6 win over St. Regis, the team’s third title. Richard Mille has won the tournament three out of the last four years, according to a release from Aspen Valley Polo Club, and the only player to be on the winning team all three years was Argentine 10-goaler Pablo MacDonough, who was also named Most Valuable Player.
“It was good to win for the third time,” MacDonough said in the release. “We had a very good game. We played well. The most important thing was we won many throw-ins and we scored. It was an advantage towards the end of the game.”
Richard Mille and the teams who went against it had the advantage of playing on nearly 20 inches of snow, which Ganzi said was a better snow base than they’ve ever had, despite the scant amount of precipitation to grace Aspen this season. SkiCo supplied snow blowers and a snowcat to supplement the fresh snow from two healthy snowfalls earlier this month, although he admitted he was anxious at the end of November.
“I was standing in Rio Grande Park on Nov. 30 and went, ‘Oh boy, this is a really, really dry winter.’ I was like, ‘I don’t think we’re gonna have snow polo,’” he said. “But as good fortune would have it, we got that good dump a couple weeks ago. That gave us that 8-inch base. That was amazing.”
At the end of the weekend, Ganzi and his wife and co-host Melissa were also able to donate $15,000 to the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation, as well as $15,000 to the cancer center at Valley View Hospital, where Melissa was treated for cancer last year. The tournament raises funds for the AVH Foundation each year, and Ganzi said it was important to him and his wife to say thank you to the doctors who took care of her.
“This is a real celebratory moment for us,” Ganzi said. “I think it’s important that we continue to give back. Whatever proceeds we get, we want to put back into the community.”
The event also followed COVID-19 guidelines. All attendees were required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within the last 24 hours. Ganzi said it was important to be able to keep everyone at the event safe.
Looking back, he said he has a feeling that everything went according to plan and hopes that next year will bring the same luck.
“The competition was amazing,” he said. “The actual polo that happened on the field was probably the best polo we’ve ever seen. I was really impressed with the competition. It was a great event — we raised money, we kept it safe. I couldn’t be happier.”