If sun, snow and fast-paced polo is your cup of tea, then the first day of the 17th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup Kitzbühel had everything you’ll ever want.

The first of the match of the day saw Melissa Ganzi’s Bendura Bank team catapult into the action keen to defend their title after last year’s solid performance. With the same line-up of 9 goal powerhouse Alejandro Novillo Astrada and snow polo maestro Tito Gaudenzi, they came out of the traps strongly with the only lady player in the tournament, Ganzi notching up two goals in quick succession. The yellow shirted Corum team received a 1½ goal start because of their lower handicap aggregate. But this shortfall certainly was not reflected in their performance. Maleitzke was seemingly unstoppable. Powering through goal after goal and by half-time they had pulled ahead into a 7½-4 lead. Ganzi and her team rallied valiantly, but it was never enough and Corum clinched the first victory of the tournament with a final score of 11½-9. In the final seconds of the last chukka, Corum’s Eckhardt Juls took an unfortunate fall from his horse. With a collar bone fracture, Juls will not be coming back to the field this week, but a substitute will take his place for the rest of the tournament.

2018 runners-up, Engel & Völkers, were next up against the seasoned Maserati team, sporting the same line-up as last year. With a point to prove this time around, the ‘Red Devils’ began their 2019 competition with fervour. Despite Maserati starting the match with a 1½ handicap advantage, and a goal in the first minute of the first chukka, from that point on, Engel & Völkers, using the expert pairing of Agustin Kronhaus and Adrian Laplacette Jr at back, casually maintained possession, securing a 5-2½ lead by half-time. Maserati’s Caspar Crasemann and Thomas Winter were not willing to go down easy, consistently battling for possession, but with cracks starting to show and mistakes being made, Laplacette Jr took advantage, changing the plays’ pace to match his gains. With just three minutes to go in the final chukka, and 7-4½ on the scoreboard, still in Engel & Völkers favour, Crasemann missed an all-important penalty, leaving the ball open for the ‘Red Devils’ to capitalise on. First Laplacette Jr missed the goal, then Kronhaus followed with a mistimed shot that hit the post, but as if by magic, Team Captain Kutlay Yaprak ensured the ball sailed through the goal to secure Engel & Völkers’ first match 8-4½. 

To round off the thrilling first day of the 17th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup, Kitzbühel stalwarts Bernd Gruber came up against the new 2019 side, Cîroc. What’s more, it was also the debut of three players: American Grant Ganzi, who having stepped off a plane this morning, was ready and raring for his Austrian snow polo premier alongside Dutchman Aki van Andel and Frenchman Pierre-Henri Ngoumou. The Dutchman began the match’s scoring, securing the first pivotal goal for Cîroc. 7 goal Valentin Novillo Astrada wasn’t far behind him with the second, and from there, Cîroc led the scoreboard with fervour. If the match had been scored on gymnastic ability with the ball, rather than goal scoring, Ngoumou would have secured the match early on, but Novillo Astrada stuck to him like glue, ensuring his epic dribbling skills never culminated in success. At half-time Cîroc led 6-2½, and despite an impressive goal from Ngoumou to end the third chukka, it would have taken a miracle to break Cîroc’s lead. As the clock ticked down at the end of the match, Ganzi secured possession on the far side of the field, firing the ball with a remarkable neck shot from the half way lines, straight through the posts. Cîroc secured the win 8-4½, but with Ganzi and Ngoumou’s snow polo eyes now well and truly in, perhaps tomorrow’s match with turn the Snow Polo World Cup tables.

Event Organiser Tito Gaudenzi said following the days play, “The ground played exceedingly well today, and we can’t wait to get back out there tomorrow to defend our title. With so many strong teams and players this year, goal difference is really important. There’s more excitement to come!”

The entrance to the public area is free with delicious local delights and refreshments available from food trucks to keep even the keenest spectators fed and watered throughout the week’s activities.

Some VIP tickets for this polo and party spectacular, including catering, are available from www.kitzbuehelpolo.com

 

Programme of the 17th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup Kitzbühel:

Saturday 19th January

11.30am: Cîroc Vodka vs Maserati

12.45pm: Corum vs Bernd Gruber

2pm: Bendura Bank vs Engel & Völkers

8pm: Polo Players Night in the VIP Tent (by invitation only/information via Lifestyle Events: (info@kitzbuehelpolo.com)

 

Sunday 20th January

11.30am: Match for 5th and 6th place

12.45pm: Kitzbühel Country Club Cup Finals for 3rd and 4th place

2pm: Final of The 17th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup Kitzbühel

3.30pm: Prize-giving ceremony, presentation of Most Valuable Player and Best Playing Pony Awards and photo shoot

 

The 17th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup Kitzbühel Teams are as follows:

Bendura Bank (12):

Melissa Ganzi (1/USA)

Alejandro Novillo Astrada (8/USA)

Tito Gaudenzi (3/CH)

 

Engel & Völkers (12):

Kutlay Yaprak (1/TUR)

Agustin Kronhaus (4/ARG)

Adrian Laplacette Jr. (7/ARG)

 

Cîroc Vodka (12):

Sebastian Schneberger (2/GER),

Aki van Andel (3/NED)

Valentin Novillo Astrada (7/ARG)

 

Bernd Gruber (10):

Eduardo Greghi (0/BRA)

Grant Ganzi (3/USA)

Pierre Henri Ngoumou (7/FR)

 

Corum (10):

Eckhardt Juls (0/GER)

Patrick Maleitzke (4/GER)

Juan Ruiz-Guiñazú (6/ARG)

 

Maserati (10):

Marc Aberle (1/GER)

Caspar Crasemann (4/GER)

Thomas Winter (5/GER)

 

Commentator: Jan-Erik Franck

Umpire: Mark Holmes

 

The Snow Polo World Cup Kitzbühel 2019 programme began on Thursday 17th January, with the team presentations at Hotel zur Tenne in the heart of Kitzbühel village. Following this time-honoured start, matches got underway on Friday 18th January and continue until the Final on Sunday 20th January. For more information about the event, please click here – www.kitzbuehelpolo.com

 

Photograph courtesy of Snow Polo World Cup Kitzbühel. The photo can be used free of charge for editorial purposes. In this context, you are required to use a photo credit.

Media will find a choice of accredited images at www.kitzbuehelpolo.com/media

http://bit.ly/PressKitzPolo19

If you require high resolution images, please contact kitz@polotimes.co.uk

For journalist accreditation, please contact the Accreditation Office:

Christina Schockemöhle, schockemoehle@sasse-schockemoehle.com Tel + 49 – 171 – 208 5522

For more information and support at the tournament please contact:

English speaking Journalists: Jen Liggins, Call + 44 – 7817 – 254 – 879

German speaking Journalists: Stefanie Stüting, Call + 49 – 171 – 788 2264