Would You Play Polo On a Frozen Lake?

Inside the world of snow polo

That’s not a rhetorical question, by the way. For some polo players, events like the World Snow Polo Championship and the Snow Polo World Cup offer an intriguing variation on their sport of choice. Imagine a game of polo, with players riding atop horses and swinging mallets at balls. Now, transport that to, say, the top of a frozen lake in Switzerland. That’s snow polo.

This is not a new development, either. The Snow Polo World Cup, held this weekend on the surface of St. Moritz, is the 38th incarnation of the event.

What is the general mood like at such an event? Based on a recent article by Eleanore Kelly in Air Mail, the answer seems to be: fancy. Kelly describes the Snow Polo World Cup as “the ultimate high-net-worth hoedown,” and describes the sight of dozens of private jets arriving at a nearby airport in the Swiss Alps. All told, the event attracts around 25,000 people.

If you look at images of snow polo, your first instinct might be to think, “There’s no way that can be safe.” Kelly’s article does include an image of a specialized horseshoe designed to make the experience safer for horses and riders alike. That isn’t to say that the sport doesn’t have its dangers, however: in 2011, one of the horses competing in the World Snow Polo Championship collapsed and was euthanized.

Still, the sport seems to have a growing audience; Kelly’s article at Air Mail noted that the Snow Polo World Cup “has grown in popularity and excess” over the years. One can only wonder where it might go from here.

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