|Sat 27th Jan 2024
Spectacular second day in St. Moritz
Mackage & The Kusnacht Practice secure their spot in tomorrow’s Final
Day two and blazing sunshine welcomed the estimated 25,000 spectators expected over the three days to the unique setting on the frozen lake of St. Moritz – all keen to soak up the exclusive atmosphere and enjoy one of the most incredible sporting events in the world.
As the first ever snow polo event, born as the brainchild of CEO and founder Reto Gaudenzi back in 1985, this highlight of the snow polo world calendar is looking to celebrate its 40th anniversary next year. Success builds success and nowhere is this more evident than at The Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz. As the only high goal tournament played on snow, the whole event has been a sell out once again this year for the VIP and Chukker Club tickets, as well as tonight’s VIP Gala Dinner at Badrutt’s Palace – the hottest ticket in town.
The months of typically efficient Swiss planning to seamlessly install the infrastructure on the usually uninhabited, frozen lake to deliver the best VIP experience, luxury and fun for those lucky enough to attend is impressive. With a tournament budget of over CHF 2 million, it takes a total of 5,600 man hours to install 3,900 tonnes of infrastructure, with no detail overlooked including heated stabling for the 120 polo ponies, many of which are flown in from all over the world.
With the weather gods smiling, perhaps delivering too much sunshine in St.Moritz recently, the ice depth is good and completely safe at over 50 centimetres, but the quality of the playing surface has caused the snow polo maestro Reto Gaudenzi to made the call that penalty shootouts will replace the usual four chukka games for today’s action. This test of skill from the players can be as nail-biting as open play; with each pivotal strike of the ball under the inscrutable watch of the packed stands and those also streaming the action live from around the world. Today each player had to take four penalties each: two from 30 yards out and two from 50 yards. It may have looked easy, but any wind, the peccadilloes of each pony and the sheer stress of the moment, combine to test each player’s nerve and skill.
Today the conditions presented near-perfect penalty-taking conditions, with not even the slightest breeze and the snow flawlessly groomed. Melissa Ganzi’s World Polo League and Perrier-Jouët were the first to take to the frozen lake to pit their skill and nerve against one another – no doubt having spent last night, running through each shot and mentally preparing their swings for today. Pressure as they say makes diamonds and The Queen of Snow Polo, Melissa Ganzi, sparkled with both her 30 yard shots hitting home. However, Perrier-Jouët’s Max Charlton – Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz multi-title winner – and Hissam Hyder – 2014 Most Valuable Player – had truly found their form and sent every one of their shots through the posts, narrowly securing Perrier-Jouët the win, 11-9.
The number one seeded team from yesterday, The Kusnacht Practice, faced Flexjet in the first Semi Final match. After a frenetic morning of penalty practice from both teams, the scores went right down to the wire, but the support of the crowd which was packed with Kusnacht supporters, combined with a perfect tally for Gonzalo Ferrari saw Eduardo Greghi’s team edge ahead with added confidence and a winning score of 12-9, to take the first place in tomorrow’s Final.
With a welcome break between the second and third matches of the day, the crowds enjoyed the buzzing atmosphere on the lake, both in the free of entry Polo Village and in the spectacularly luxe VIP areas. There was a palpable frisson in the stands as the excited spectators took their seats for the third and final showdown today between Mackage and St. Moritz – Top Of The World. Swedish 0 goaler Niclas Johansson (0) stepped in to replace Jonathan Tidswell-Pretorius for St. Moritz – Top Of The World and kicked off proceedings with two goals. However, as the wind picked up in the Engadin Valley it proved challenging as it cruelly whipped the ball off course. This was Isidro Strada’s third time in St. Moritz and his experience helped him to convert all four opportunities at goal, with Lidia Gauss displaying true ‘girl power’ to slot two penalties through to the delight of the Mackage supporters – who as a result, cheered their 9-8 win and with it their place in tomorrow’s Final.
These results mean that tomorrow’s Final will be between Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz newcomers, Mackage vs Kusnacht Practice returning for their second year, but their first time in the Final, due to be played at 2.30pm. Perrier-Jouët vs St. Moritz – Top Of The World in the Subsidiary Final for The Mackage Trophy at 12.15pm and World Polo League vs Flexjet will play for The Casablanca Trophy (5th and 6th place) at 11am.
The 2024 Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz Teams:
World Polo League (16): Melissa Ganzi (0), Adrian Laplacette Jr. (6), Alejandro Novillo Astrada (7) & James Mann (3)
St. Moritz – Top Of The World (15): Jonathan Tidswell-Pretorius (0), Tito Gaudenzi (2), David 'Pelon' Stirling (8) & Pelayo Berazadi (5)
Mackage (16): Lidia Gauss (0), Jack Hyde (5), Isidro Strada (7) & Ryan Pemble (4)
Perrier-Jouët (16): Philipp Mueller (0), Nacho Gonzalez (4), Hissam Hyder (4) & Max Charlton (6)
The Kusnacht Practice (15): Eduardo Greghi (0), Hugo Taylor (4), Gonzalo Ferrari (7) & Nico San Roman (4)
Flexjet (16): Santos Bollini (2), Marc Ganzi (1), Martin Jauregui (6) & Nic Roldan (7)