A triumvirate of matches ends three day polo spectacular
The Gods of Polo are smiling on us here again as Finals day here in St Moritz has delivered perfect conditions, with the sun shining down on the packed grandstands of this, the world’s oldest and most iconic snow polo event. The immaculately prepared playing surface directly on top of the St. Moritz frozen lake once again plays host to polo superstars from across the globe who have jetted in to take part in this prestigious event. With the grandstands positively bristling with fur clad glamorous spectators, the action kicked off with the first match of the day for The Villa Sandi Cup played between Perrier-Jouët and Casablanca for fifth and sixth place. Headed up by Russia’s Ivan Romanovsky the black-shirted team Casablanca had something to prove after their defeat yesterday and saved the best until last with a sparkling performance from St. Moritz first timer Brit Jimbo Fewster who delivered his best polo yet, scoring two goals in the first chukka.
Engadin local Luca Meier opened the scoring for Perriet-Jouët, to the delight of the Swiss spectators. Unfortunately, in the last chukka Perriet-Jouët Team Captain, Turkish Kutlay Yaprak took a tumble and dislocated his shoulder and was replaced by snow polo regular Fabio Meier, but as the clock ticked down time trickled through the fingers of Casablanca as Perrier-Jouët secured a narrow 4-3 victory. The second match of the day for The Casablanca Trophy saw history being made as not one, not two but three Ganzis were on the frozen lake, as Grant and Melissa Ganzi donned the dark shirts of Badrutt’s Palace against Marc Ganzi’s all American World Polo League.
The boys from across the Atlantic blazed a trail into today’s Subsidiary Final yesterday having truly found their St. Moritz form, sweeping the opposition aside with a performance totally transformed from the first day of competition. Nic Roldan – the 8 goal super smooth lynchpin of the team ¬– was on top form delivering his crowd pleasing air shots and flowing polo moves. But would that form hold for today and also for the rest of the team? Quick out of the traps there were a flurry of goals, resulting in a high octane first chukka with the scores resting on 2-1. As the teams got the measure of each other, the second chukka was goalless with both teams effectively shutting down the opposition. Melissa Ganzi, the only woman taking part in the tournament, hit the turbo button in the second half, scoring three goals, despite having taken a knock to her stick hand.
The Ganzi magic extended through the whole family with Marc giving a solid performance and 3 goal Grant making his presence known. Having led throughout, Badrutt’s Palace sealed the deal with a convincing 5-2 win. So, it was time for the third match of the day for the hotly anticipated Final between Clinique La Prairie and Azerbaijan Land of Fire, to decide the team to raise the tournament trophy and claim the coveted Snow Polo World Cup Trophy 2022. Clinique La Prairie secured their road to the Final with an impressive victory over Casablanca yesterday, with 10 goal British arena player Max Charlton and his band of polo Exocet missiles rendering the 10 goal polo powerhouse Sapo Caset somewhat adrift, but today in the Final they struggled to gain possession and failed to get goals on the scoreboard.
However, it was a different story for Azerbaijan Land of Fire, playing strong, passionate four man polo they effectively shut down Clinique La Prairie just as they did yesterday with Melissa Ganzi’s Badrutt’s Palace. With General Elcin Guliyev, President of the ARAF flying in direct from Baku for the Final, the pressure was on for Azerbaijan Land of Fire to deliver a win, and they effectively shut down Clinique La Prairie from the outset, whilst simultaneously making the most of the penalty opportunities that came their way. Raul Laplacette put on an impressive display of skill, putting pressure on Clinique La Prairie and locking them down; blunting the attacks of the opposition with fast, accurate and athletic polo and for his performance was rightly awarded the Most Valuable Player of the tournament for his outstanding team play. All in all, it was a productive day in the office for Azerbaijan Land of Fire which saw them claim their first Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz title with a score of 6-2½, set against record breaking crowds of over 12,000 spectators for the Final, securing The Clinique La Prairie Cup.
Swiss player Tito Gaudenzi, who was so impressive at the number 4 position, commented after the victory, “To win this tournament in my home town is just amazing, not only did my father have the crazy idea of starting this tournament back in 1985, but he also won the tournament five times himself, three times alongside Adriancito’s [Adrian Laplacette’s] father. So now I have to win another four more times to match his total!” The Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz Trophy, sponsored by Clinique La Prairie was presented by Piero Dillier, President of the Board of Evviva Polo St. Moritz, with prizes presented by Sonia Spring, Marketing Director of Clinique La Prairie, to the delighted Azerbaijan Land of Fire team.
The Most Valuable Player was awarded to Raul Laplacette, who received a Pasha de Cartier watch, sponsored by The World Polo League and presented by Zach Weisz. Laplacette said, “We had a very tough game against a great team.” Whilst the Polo Times Best Playing Pony was awarded by Nick Hine to Max Charlton for his 12-year-old mare Pixie, who played in the second chukka and is a favourite of Max’s. Max received a bespoke pony rug and 200 Swiss Francs for the grooms. That’s a wrap! After three truly spectacular days of polo which saw nine matches played in front of over 25,000 people, the 37th edition of this iconic event drew to a close and teammates, friends, both new and old and the St. Moritz ‘polo family’ said a fond farewell until next year. Be sure to make a note for your diary of The 38th Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz on 27, 28 and 29 January 2023!
Photograph: Azerbaijan Land of Fire, winners of The 37th Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz. By Polo Times