This Post is available in:

Dieser Post ist verfügbar in:

Casablanca stunned Aspen Valley to capture the St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship 2023

Aspen Valley and Casablanca players after the most competitive final in tournament history. © Nick Tininenko

ASPEN, Colorado, December 17, 2023: Casablanca won its first St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship 2023 at Rio Grande Park.

In front of a soldout crowd. Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, 3, Hilario Figueras, 5, Nic Roldan, 9) held off Aspen Valley (Jason Crowder, 6, Marc Ganzi, 1, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10) for a hardfought 8-6 victory.

Nine-goaler Nic Roldan scored a game-high five goals including his first two-pointer in the three-day tournament and was named Most Valuable Player. It was Roldan‘s fifth St. Regis tournament victory in eleven years.

„Any win is a good win and this was a good win,“ Roldan said. „This is one of our favorite events of the year. Grant and Hilario played amazing and are two really competitive players. Kudos to them for stepping up and giving their all.“

Argentine 10-goaler Adolfo Cambiaso, the sport‘s greatest all-time player, made his U.S. debut on snow. Unlike his 10-goal performance including three two-pointers, in Friday‘s indoor arena qualifier, Casablanca held him scoreless and shut down Aspen Valley‘s offensive attack that had scored 23 goals in four chukkers.

„Adolfo is the greatest of all time by far,“ Roldan said. „He keeps impressing us and blowing our minds with what he‘s doing. We didn‘t really think about playing against him. It was a very tough game and very competitive. It could have gone either way.“

It was Ganzi‘s fourth St. Regis title. Last year the Casablanca Ambassador teamed with Hilario Figueras and Tommy Biddle for Blade & Bow‘s first tournament victory.

„I think this was a bigger win,“ Ganzi said. „Having Adolfo‘s debut and making the final and being able to beat him is huge. Having a fun team to play with against a very good team, this was definitely a bigger win.

„It was a fun final,“ Ganzi said. „Shutting out Cambiaso was rare. I don‘t think he knew what to expect playing on snow. It was very different for him. If we could keep the ball away from Adolfo we knew that would benefit us greatly.

„A hundred percent having him here was huge and added to the tournament,“ Ganzi said. „Obviously, he is the best player ever. His accomplishments speak for themself. We were fortunate to get him to come this year and add another amazing player to a great list of 10-goalers. It seemed like he enjoyed it and adapted very quickly.“

In a hotly-contested game, Casablanca jumped out to a 2-0 lead behind goals by Roldan and Figueras. Roldan‘s two-pointer and another Figueras goal gave them a 5-2 advantage after two chukkers.

„Two-pointers are always tough,“ Roldan said. „I think there‘s a little bit of luck involved. You just have to try to hit it as softly as possible and hope that it just stays on line and it did.“

Aspen Valley clawed its way back in the third chukker for a 3-0 shutout to tie the game at 5-5. Going into the fourth and final chukker, the lead changed hands twice  before Casablanca went ahead on Roldan‘s 15-yard penalty conversion to break a 6-6 tie with two minutes left. Figueras added an insurance goal for an 8-6 final.

„We got off to a quick start and then they started to work their way back in,“ Roldan said. „In the end the idea was to be patient and not give away any fouls. It worked out well.“

In addition to Roldan‘s five goals, Figueras had three. Crowder led Aspen Valley with three goals, Ganzi had one and they were awarded two penalty-ones.

Added Ganzi, „We wanted to defend them well and play pretty simple. We wanted to do the same things we did the other day defensively. Most of our tactics were defensive. In the end, playing pretty open polo and working a little harder for each other I think made the difference. We played a hard, smart game.“

Casablanca, the tournament‘s apparel sponsor, produces the world’s leading equipment for polo players with the highest safety ratings and supplies supreme quality clothing.

„It‘s great for Casablanca,“ Ganzi said. „I am happy for the brand and happy to get their name on the trophy. It‘s cool to be able to lead the team and do it. I think they should be happy.“

There were three Best Playing Pony blankets awarded. The BPP for the final was Nadia, a chestnut mare played and bred by Cambiaso and owned by Santa Rita Polo Farm. The tournament BPP was Nobu, played by Roldan, bred and owned by Santa Rita Polo Farm. The American Polo Horse Association BPP was Highlands, played by Hilario Figueras, also bred and owned by Santa Rita Polo Farm.

In the Aspen Cup, St. Regis (Santos Bollini, 2, Juan Bollini, 6, Nacho Figueras, 6) defeated NetJets (Ricky Cooper, 3, Pete Webb, 6, Sugar Erskine, 7), 11-6, for third place. Figueras, St. Regis Connoisseur and team captain, scored a game-high 10 goals and was named MVP.

On Saturday, Edmiston (Teo Calle, 1, Pancho Bensadon, 8, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 7), rallied for a 5-4 victory over Blade & Bow (Scott Wood, 2, Juan Martin Nero, 10, Pablo Spinacci, 6) to win the High Alpine Cup and finished fifth. Argentine Alejandro Novillo Astrada was MVP. He scored the only two-pointer of the game.

The inaugural Potamkin Charity Chukker was held in honor of beloved Aspen resident Robert Potamkin, the father of Melissa Ganzi, who passed away recently. Each goal scored in the chukker earned a donation to charity.

Potamkin Black (Grant Ganzi, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini), earned $9,000 for the Calloway Young Cancer Center, winning 9-7 over Potamkin Yellow (Michael Calle, Sugar Erskine, Pancho Bensadon), earning $7,000 for the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation. Astrada led with a game-high five goals, Ganzi had three goals and Bollini added one.

In the Celebrity Polo Match, Sterling (Vinny Sangaline, Michael Sangaline, Aurora Figueras) defeated Lugano (Federico Farina, Sterling Jones, Michael Calle), 5-2. Vinny Sangaline and Figueras each had two goals for Sterling.

One of the world‘s top snow polo tournaments and only snow polo tournament held in North America, was the final stop of the World Polo Tour. It‘s also one of Aspen‘s major international sporting events, attracting fans from all over the world.

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

„Every year it seems to get better and better,“ Roldan praised. „Melissa and her team have done an incredible job of putting this event together. We‘re all hugely appreciative and very grateful to be able to experience this. It‘s an awesome experience and great way to end the year. The win is just a bonus.“

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.

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); 2017, U.S. Polo Assn., (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).

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.

By Sharon Robb
Photos by Nick Tininenko

Related Topics

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



For players only: The biggest players data base in the world. Subscribe now and receive invitations to polo tournaments all over the world.
Subscribe to POLO+10 Newsletter
Newsletter Subscriptions *(Required)



Would you like to have your own magazine for your tournament?

Feel free to contact us!
POLO+10 produces your tournament magazine.

Please write to