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Let‘s Get This Party Started; St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship Begins Monday

St. Regis' traditional champagne sabering to kick off the event. © Nick Tininenko

CARBONDALE, Colo., December 19, 2022 — The stage is set for the 10th anniversary of the St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship.

On Sunday night, the draw party featuring player and sponsor introductions was held during a cocktail reception at St. Regis Aspen Resort in a fun and festive atmosphere highlighted by St. Regis‘ traditional champagne sabering.

Several players were still celebrating Argentina‘s win in the World Cup with Nacho Figueras waving an Argentine jersey as he was introduced and Pablo MacDonough and Santos Bollini wearing Argentine jerseys.

„Ten years we have been doing this event with St. Regis and our good friends at Marriott,“ said tournament host and emcee Marc Ganzi. „It‘s really exciting because when you reach ten years in an event in this town it becomes institutional of sorts.

„We have overcome a lot of challenges and it‘s taken a lot of hard work and a lot of people from the community to get us to where we are today.“

Ganzi thanked the City of Aspen and Parks and Recreation Department. „Without their support and without the field we don‘t have snow polo,“ Ganzi said. „It‘s really important we continue to make this a community event.“ Ganzi also thanked the City Council.

„I think this has really become a great event and it‘s one the locals support,“ Ganzi said. „It‘s a great way to kick off the holiday season. This year will be better than ever. We have got six amazing teams.“

After the draw for bracket seeding, three-time defending champion Richard Mille, CK Shack and Blade & Bow are in Bracket One. Edmiston, NetJets and St. Regis are in Bracket Two. Round robin matches will be held at the club‘s indoor arena in Carbondale Monday at noon (Bracket One) and 2 p.m. (Bracket Two).

Team sponsors and rosters are:

Blade & Bow (18): Grant Ganzi, 3, Hilario Figueras, 6, Tommy Biddle, 9.
Richard Mille (18): Sarah Siegel Magness, 1, Jesse Bray, 7, Pablo MacDonough, 10.
Edmiston (17): Cable Magness, 1, Jason Crowder, 7, Jeronimo Del Carril, 9.
NetJets (18): Scott Wood, 2, Juan Martin Zubia, 9, Sugar Erskine, 7.
St. Regis (14): Melissa Ganzi, 0, Nacho Figueras, 6, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 7.
CK Shack (14): Juancito Bollini, 4, Martin Uranga, 7, Santos Bollini, 3.

Celebrity team sponsors and lineups are: Lugano Diamonds: Joyce Bonelli, Martin Uranga, Vinny Sangaline; Aspen Valley Polo Club: Marc Ganzi, Sterling Jones, Nacho Figiueras; and Casablanca: Saul Sacca, Grant Ganzi, Juan Bollini.

After Monday‘s qualifying at Aspen Valley Polo Club, action continues Tuesday and Wednesday at Rio Grande Park in front of an expected sellout crowd and worldwide ChukkerTV audience.

On Tuesday and Wednesday from noon-4 p.m., action moves to Rio Grande Park in downtown Aspen where the semifinals and celebrity matches are Tuesday and final and Aspen Cup consolation game and trophy presentation are Wednesday.

On Tuesday at 1:15 p.m., the High Alpine Cup for fifth and sixth places will be held followed by the popular Celebrity Polo Round Robin Cup. On Wednesday, the championship final is 1 p.m. followed by the Aspen Cup at 3 p.m.

The art of sabrage is the signature ceremony of the St. Regis Evening Rituals series. Dating back to the battles of Napoleon Bonaparte, who along with his soldiers, opened champagne with his saber in both victory and defeat, Napoleon once said, “Champagne: in victory, one deserves it; in defeat, one needs it.”

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. In addition to the 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.

Last year Richard Mille made history at the St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship. In front of a soldout heated VIP tent, Richard Mille (Sarah Siegel Magness, 0, Jesse Bray, 7, Pablo MacDonough, 10) won its third title with an impressive 9-6 victory over St. Regis (Melissa Ganzi, 1, Nacho Figueras, 6, Nic Roldan, 9).

Richard Mille has won the tournament three of the last four years. MacDonough, the only player on all three winning teams, was named Most Valuable Player.

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

Sunday 12/18 6:30 p.m.
Team draw at St. Regis Aspen Resort

Monday 12/19 12 p.m. & 2 p.m.
Preliminary Games
at Aspen Valley Polo Club

Tuesday 12/20
12 p.m. VIP tent opens
1:15 p.m. High Alpine Cup Final
Celebrity game
at Rio Grande Park

Wednesday 12/21
12 p.m. VIP tent opens
1 p.m. Championship Final
3 p.m. Aspen Cup Final
at Rio Grande Park

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