Let’s Get This Party Started; St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship Begins Friday

The stage is set for the opening round of the 11th annual St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship.

By Sharon Robb

In a fun and festive atmosphere at the St. Regis Aspen Resort Thursday night, the draw party featuring player and sponsor introductions were held.

One of the world’s top snow polo tournaments and only snow polo tournament held in North America, features six teams competing for the coveted winner’s trophy on the final stop of the World Polo Tour.

“This cannot happen without the great support of so many people in the Valley,” said tournament co-host Marc Ganzi.

“The first and most important we have is our own city. The city of Aspen really is a great partner. They give us a fantastic venue. They’ve been very supportive. Through the passage of time and through good partnership I think we have now cemented this as a fixture on the social and competitive calendar.

“This town and this Valley has such a rich history in competition, horses and respecting the environment and that’s what I think we try to do. I want to thank the city of Aspen and of course, I want to thank our title sponsor St. Regis.

“In addition, we have another partner that’s really important behind the scenes which is the Aspen Skiing Company. They lay down a fantastic artificial surface for us. They prepare the park. They give us a very expensive Snowcat that keeps the conditions safe. They are a really great partner and we give them great thanks.”

The draw for bracket seeding is (1) NetJets, (2) Blade & Bow, (3) Casablanca, (4) St. Regis, (5) Edmiston and (6) Aspen Valley Polo Club for Friday’s qualifying round robin matches at the state-of-the-art indoor arena at Aspen Valley Polo Club.

In Game 1 at 1:30 p.m., NetJets and defending champion Blade & Bow play. The winner sits and Casablanca plays. In Game 2 at 3 p.m., St. Regis and Edmiston will play. The winner sits and Aspen Valley Polo Club plays.

Action moves to Rio Grande Park on Saturday where the High Alpine Cup, a playoff for fifth and sixth place will be at 1:15 p.m., followed by the inaugural Potamkin Charity Chukker at 2:30 p.m. and Celebrity Polo Match, highlighted by actor Sterling Jones, at 3:15 p.m. will be held.

On Sunday the championship final is 1 p.m. and Aspen Cup at 3 p.m. followed by the awards ceremony.

Team sponsors and rosters are:
Aspen Valley Polo Club (17): Marc Ganzi, 1, Jason Crowder, 6, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10.

Blade & Bow (18): Scott Wood, 2, Pablo Spinacci, 6, Juan Martin Nero, 10.

Casablanca (17): Grant Ganzi, 3, Hilario Figueras, 5, Nic Roldan, 9.

Edmiston (16): Teo Calle, 1, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 7, Pancho Bensadon, 8.

NetJets (16): Ricky Cooper, 3, Pete Webb, 6, Sugar Erskine, 7.

St. Regis (14): Santos Bollini, 2, Nacho Figueras, 6, Juan Bollini, 6.

Adolfo Cambiaso, rated 10 goals in the U.S., Argentina and United Kingdom, is making his snow polo debut in the U.S. Cambiaso and Juan Martin Nero, teammates on La Dolfina Saudi, are coming off the 130th Argentine Open.

“We are so delighted this year to have what I often refer to as ‘my nemesis’ but really he is the Michael Jordan of polo,” Ganzi said. “Adolfo Cambiaso has come all the way from Argentina to be with us.

“It is a rare treat to have him play in our tournament. He has been the reigning world champion in polo now for three decades which is a longer reign than Michael Jordan so we’re really delighted. It’s the first time he has competed up here. Having Adolfo here is a big treat for the city and I think you’re going to see a great display of talent on the pitch.”

The sport’s ambassador and St. Regis Connoisseur Nacho Figueras returns as captain of the St. Regis polo team. Figueras has played a key role in the snow polo event’s growth and development.

For the eleventh consecutive year, Aspen Valley Polo Club owners Melissa and Marc Ganzi will host the world-class event in a holiday setting against a backdrop of snow-covered mountains, kicking off the holiday social season in Aspen.

“We’re delighted to be here,” Ganzi said. “This is a great way to welcome in what we think will be a fantastic way to start the Aspen holiday season. I can think of no better place than to do it here at the St. Regis.”

VIP tickets are still available. Ticket information can be found at aspenvalleypoloclub.com. Games are free for spectators standing around the arena fencing. The event is a fundraiser for the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation and Calloway Young Cancer Center. Donations are welcome.

The snow polo tournament is one of Aspen’s major international sporting events, attracting fans from all over the world.

In last year’s thrilling finish, Blade & Bow won its first St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship. Blade & Bow (Grant Ganzi, 3, Hilario Figueras, 6, Tommy Biddle, 9) rallied from a four-goal deficit to defeat St. Regis (Melissa Ganzi, 0, Nacho Figueras, 6, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 7), 9-8, in front of a soldout  VIP tent and worldwide CTV Sports audience.

Other past winners are: 2021, Richard Mille (Sarah Siegel Magness, Jesse Bray, Pablo MacDonough); 2020, World Polo League (Riley Ganzi, Hilario Figueras, Alejandro Novillo Astrada); 2019, Richard Mille (Edouard Pan, Pablo MacDonough, Louis Jarrige); 2018, Richard Mille (Marc Ganzi, Martin Pepa, Pablo MacDonough); U.S. Polo Assn.; 2017, (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).

The sport was first played on a frozen lake in St. Moritz, Switzerland, created by Swiss hotelier and 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.

With the majestic 12,965-foot summit of Mount Sopris as a backdrop, Aspen Valley Polo Club has become the world’s destination spot for summer and snow polo.     

Since Marc and Melissa Ganzi resurrected the Carbondale-based club and polo in 2014, polo has increased in popularity in Aspen and surrounding cities with the club’s offerings of various weekly grass and arena tournaments, Arena & Asado Nights, Kidz Polo, Kids Wheely 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.

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