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Fri 12th Jan 2018

16th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup Kitzbühel

Sun shines on the first day of matches in Kitzbühel

The sun shone, the world’s press were in attendance and expectations were suitably high as the first teams took to the pristine snow of the arena for the first matches of the 16th edition of the 2018 Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup Kitzbühel. 

The first match was between local rivals, Polo Club Kitzbühel and 2017 winners Corum who were keen to defend their title despite being lower handicapped.
From the first bell, the Corum boys in yellow came firing out of the line-up. With a 2½ goal handicap allowance, Patrick Maleitzke powered out of the throng and powered the bright red Kitzbühel polo ball straight towards the posts for the first goal of what turned out to be a busy first chukka. With little response from the home side, Maleitzke and his teammates thundered back and forth, scoring goal after goal. By halftime, the scoreboard read 6½-2 in Corum’s favour. As the second half began, the expert matching of Valentin Novillo Astrada and Hector Monserrat began their fight back against their rivals in yellow. As the third chukka progressed, it looked as though the tide may be turning, as Novillo Astrada consolidated his attempts on goal, but the polo gods were not smiling and as the final bell sounded at the end of the match, Corum rode off the ground with an assured 8½-4 victory. Corum’s Patrick Maleitzke said after the match, “We came out of the first line-out really strong, which was the plan. We plan to duplicate our efforts today, throughout the tournament.”
For the second match, it was the time of event organiser and polo stalwart Tito Gaudenzi and the Bendura Bank team to take to the field. Following her family’s victory at the Beach Polo World Cup, Melissa Ganzi was looking for the win, with only the strong Engel & Völkers trio standing in her way. The ‘Voice of Polo’ Jan-Erik Franck aptly named the red shirted Engel & Völkers team the ‘Red Devils’ and with agility and skill akin to their aerobatic namesakes, they capitalised on their ½ goal handicap advantage to stay ahead of their competition in the first chukka. Adrian Laplacette, with impressive skills and dexterity controlled the initial play, scoring the first goal of the match, putting Engel & Völkers ahead 1½-0, but they didn’t hold the lead for long. Bendura Bank’s Alejandro Novillo Astrada, fresh from the Argentine summer season, opened the scoring for the blue team, notching up three goals in as many minutes and as the teams broke for half-time, the scoreboard rested on 3-2½ in Bendura Bank’s favour. But, with passion and flair, the ‘Red Devils’ came out fighting in the second half, continuously adding to the scoreboard with Bendura Bank answering with a goal in return each time. As the play became more disjointed, Engel & Völkers took advantage of the numerous penalties awarded against Bendura Bank to finally take home the win, with a closer than close 6½-5 final score. “We’ll come into to tomorrow’s match fighting, following a difficult day today”, said Bendura Bank Captain Melissa Ganzi. “Today was our first day on these horses and we hope to know them better by tomorrow’s match.”
To round off the thrilling first day of the 16th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup, Maserati came up against snow polo stalwarts, team Bernd Gruber, who began the match with a ½ goal handicap advantage, in what was widely acknowledged as the best game in day one of the tournament. From the word go, the roar of the Maserati goal theme could be heard thundering through the Kitzbühel valley, as Thomas Winter and the young talent of Caspar Crasemann dominated the open and fast play. Following a storming first two chukkas, Maserati began the second half with a 7-2 ½ lead, but following a graceful dismount from Winter, Bernd Gruber looked as though they were making a comeback, bringing the scores to 7-5 ½ during the third chukka. However, a triumph was not to be for Bernd Gruber, as Maserati once again found their stride reaching double figures on the scoreboard. Their confident play on the field was reflected in the decisive 11-7½ score in Maserati’s favour. 
Event Organiser Tito Gaudenzi ended the day by saying, “The ground played amazingly well today. Our team still has a chance to reach the Final tomorrow, so we will go into the match looking to score as many goals as possible. Watch this space!”
The action in the 16th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup continues tomorrow, with the teams battling it out for the coveted spots in the Final. Maserati are the favourites following their strong performance today, but with the Novillo Astrada cousins set to fully find their snow legs it is all to play for and another day of thrilling action is expected.
Admission to the public area with food village and exhibitors around the polo field is free, so everyone is welcome. For more information, please visit www.kitzbuehelpolo.com
The 16th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup Kitzbühel Teams:

Bendura Bank (12): 
Melissa Ganzi (1/USA)
Alejandro Novillo Astrada (8/USA) 
Tito Gaudenzi (3/CH)
Engel & Völkers (11): 
Kutlay Yaprak (0/IRE)
Augustin Kronhaus (4/ARG)
Adrian Laplacette Jr. (7/ARG)
Polo Club Kitzbühel (13): 
Sebastian Schneberger (2/GER),
Hector Monserrat (4/ARG) 
Valentin Novillo Astrada (7/ARG)
Bernd Gruber (9): 
Steffi von Pock (1/GER)
Marty van Scherpenzeel (2/NL) 
Eduardo Anca (6/ARG)

Corum (9): 
Philip Sommer (2/GER)
Lukas Sdrenka (3/GER)
Patrick Maleitzke (4/GER)
Maserati (10)
Marc Abele (1/GER)
Caspar Crasemann (4/GER)
Thomas Winter (5/GER)
Commentator: Jan-Erik Franck
Umpire: Mark Holmes 
Programme of the 16th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup Kitzbühel:

Saturday 13 January
11.45am: Polo Club Kitzbühel vs Bernd Gruber
1pm: Bendura Bank vs Maserati
2.15pm: Engel & Völkers vs Corum
8pm: Polo Players Night in the VIP Tent (by invitation only/information via Lifestyle Events: info@kitzbuehelpolo.com)
Sunday 14 January
11.30am: Match for 5th and 6th place (Engel & Völkers Cup)
12.45pm: Match for 3rd and 4th place (Kitzbühel Country Club Cup)
2pm: Final of the 16th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup Kitzbühel
4pm: Prize-giving ceremony, presentation of Most Valuable Player and Best Playing Pony Awards and photo shoot
Photograph: The sun shone on the first day of action at the 16th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup Kitzbühel. Courtesy of Snow Polo World Cup Kitzbühel

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