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CK Shack Wins High Alpine Cup At St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship; Final Day Action Wednesday

Flag bearer Jenna Hammond rides the flag past the VIP tent. © Nick Tininenko

CARBONDALE, Colo., December 21, 2022 — CK Shack rebounded from its two close losses on opening day to capture the High Alpine Cup Tuesday at the St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship.

In the battle for fifth and sixth place in the six-team tournament, CK Shack (Santos Bollini, 3, Martin Uranga, 7, Juan Bollini, 4) was unstoppable jumping out to quick lead and never relinquished it for a 9-5 victory over Edmiston (Cable Magness, 1, Jason Crowder, 7, Jeronimo Del Carril, 9) at Rio Grande Park.

In Monday‘s qualifying round at Aspen Valley Polo Club, CK Shack lost to defending champion Richard Mille, 9-7, and Blade And Bow, 7-6.

„We‘re always happy to win and play our best,“ Bollini said. „I‘m always excited to play and Santos was on the field and that always gives me an extra push when I play with my kids.

„That team was a good team,“ Bollini said. „We started very strong in the beginning and everything went our way in the first two chukkers. Then they came back a bit. Then the fourth chukker we dominated again.“

CK Shack started off with a 2-0 lead on handicap and quickly built a 6-1 halftime lead. CK Shack led 8-3 after the third chukker. Edmiston tried to dig itself out a hole in the second half but ran out of time.

CK Shack got balanced scoring from its lineup. Uranga led with three goals and father and son Juan and Santos Bollini each had two goals. Magness and Crowder each had two goals and Del Carril added one for Edmiston.

In the Celebrity Polo Round Robin, Aspen Valley Polo Club (Sterling Jones, Marc Ganzi, Nacho Figueras) won the three-team round robin, 1-0, over Casablanca (Saul Sacca, Juan Bollini, Grant Ganzi).

Jones scored the winning goal with 23 seconds in the final chukker. Jones was leading scorer with two goals. Lugano Diamonds (Joyce Bonelli, Martin Uranga, Vinny Sangaline) finished third.

„It‘s fun to have new people in the game and show them how much fun and safe it is,“ Bollini said. „And celebrity people talk about it and help make it bigger.“

The High Alpine Cup was the first of three tournament finals. On Wednesday, the third and final day of the prestigious tournament, action continues with a doubleheader featuring the championship and Alpine Cup.

In front of an expected sellout VIP crowd and worldwide ChukkerTV audience, Blade And Bow (Grant Ganzi, 3, Hilario Figueras, 6, Tommy Biddle, 9) will play St. Regis (Melissa Ganzi, 0, Nacho Figueras, 6, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 7) in the championship final at 1 p.m. MST.

Richard Mille (Sarah Siegel Magness, 1, Jesse Bray, 7, Pablo MacDonough, 10) and NetJets (Scott Wood, 2, Juan Martin Zubia, 9, Sugar Erskine, 7) will play for the Aspen Cup at 3 p.m. followed by the trophy presentation ceremony at 4:15 p.m.

„This tournament has been very competitive,“ Bollini said. „We saw really good games yesterday and today was a good game, too. The level of this tournament is getting better and better. The players and horses are better every year. The condition of the field today was fantastic.“

In the qualifying round on Monday, Blade And Bow advanced into the final with a 5-4 overtime upset over three-time defending champion Richard Mille. St. Regis defeated NetJets, 7-5, to advance.

It will be the second consecutive finals appearance for St. Regis. In last year‘s final, St. Regis (Melissa Ganzi, 1, Nacho Figueras, 6, Nic Roldan, 9) lost to defending champion Richard Mille, 9-6.

Five of the six player finalists have won the coveted cup at least once. Only Biddle, a former 10-goal rated arena player, has not won it. The final will pit father against son Nacho and Hilario Figueras and mother against son Melissa and Grant Ganzi.

The event, one of the world‘s top snow polo tournaments and only snow polo event in North America, is a fundraiser for the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation and Calaway-Young Cancer Center. In addition to ticket proceeds, donations are welcomed.

For the tenth consecutive year, Aspen Valley Polo Club owners Melissa and Marc Ganzi are hosting the world-class event which has joined St. Moritz as one of the world‘s top snow polo tournaments and one of Aspen‘s major international sporting events. It is the final stop on the World Polo Tour and kickoff to the holiday social season in Aspen.

Past winners are: 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 continues to be one of the busiest and fastest growing USPA-sanctioned clubs in the nation. Aspen Valley Polo Club has become the world‘s destination spot for summer and snow polo.     

Since Marc and Melissa Ganzi resurrected the 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

2022 Aspen World Snow Polo Championship

Schedule

Wednesday 12/21
12 p.m. VIP tent opens

1 p.m. Championship Final
St. Regis vs Blade And Bow

3 p.m. Aspen Cup Final
Richard Mille vs NetJets
at Rio Grande Park

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