Thirty years ago, in January of 1985, the world’s first-ever polo tournament on snow took place. The inventor of the fast sport on snow, the local Reto Gaudenzi, returns to his roots. He took over the management of the event backed by his team from Evviva Polo St. Moritz Ltd. This year, four international teams compete for the trophy of the world’s most important snow polo tournament on «Top of the World» in St. Moritz.
In the first match on Friday, team Cartier played against team Trois Pommes. Having won the Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz in the past two years, the Cartier team—captained by the Australian Jonathan Munro Ford, with English team members Max Charlton, Chris Hyde, and Jamie Morrison—have their aim set to take home the Triple Crown. With an arena polo handicap of +9, Chris Hyde is one of the world’s best arena and snow polo players. At his side plays the young Max Charlton, sporting a handicap of +7.
The two Swiss patrons of the team Trois Pommes, Thomas «Tutti» Wolfensberger and Cédric Schweri, have signed up trusted goal scorers from Argentina. Piki Diaz Alberdi is a well-known figure in St. Moritz and brings a wealth of experience to the game. Pepe Riglos has been a successful polo coach for many years and he is in great demand. He is his making his debut on snow here in St. Moritz.
The teams started into the first chukker with half a goal difference given the teams’ low handicaps. A promising start to the game with a goal from Max Charlton just a few minutes after the starting whistle was followed by a series of missed chances and interruptions that marked the second chukker and continued into the fourth round. The team Trois Pommes effectively managed to keep the title defendants at bay. In the fourth chukker, the team Cartier managed to secure their lead with a goal from Chris Hyde four and a half minutes before the end of the game—end result 3-1.5.
The second pairing, team BMW against team Badrutt’s Palace, was also a match between two teams of similar strength. Starting off into the first chukker with a half-goal lead, team BMW was eager to assert their dominance and scored a goal within seconds. The two pros, Dario Musso and Lucas Labat, in particular, played an excellent game throughout, demonstrating strong team play—the two Argentinians have been playing together for many years. Together with the President of the St. Moritz Polo Club, Piero Dillier, they have won many major tournaments and championships. By the start of the third chukker, however, the team Badrutt’s Palace had turned the match around. Badrutt’s Palace’s lead of 2.5-5 was brought about by excellent actions by the two 6-goalers Richard Le Poer and James Harper, as well as Max Hutchinson. The Irish team captain Richard Fagan and his three British team mates appeared to be on the road to victory.
But BMW was not to be beaten so easily. With some difficult manoeuvres, Dario Musso took his team into the lead striking two goals. At the start of the last chukker, the team BMW had a lead of 5.5-4. Spectacular actions kicked off the ensuing race to catch up. In the end, the team BMW was able to save their lead by half a goal and won the game with 5.5-5.
The many spectators that had made their way to the first day of the tournament saw fascinating polo and even teams—no clear favourite can be made out yet. There is no doubt about one thing though: snow polo of the highest level is played here in St. Moritz and every one of the teams has excellent players in their ranks. Tomorrow, Saturday, Badrutt’s Palace will play Cartier, followed by Trois Pommes against BMW in the second game.
Team Cartier (+16)
Jonathan Munro Ford (0, AUS), TC
Max Charlton (+7, GBR)
Jamie Morrison (+3, GBR)
Chris Hyde (+6, GBR)
Team Trois Pommes (+14)
Tutti Wolfensberger (+1, SUI), TC
Pepe Riglos (+6, ARG)
Piki Diaz Alberdi (+7, ARG)
Cedric Schweri (0, SUI)
Team BMW (+15)
Rommy Gianni (+1, ITA), TC
Paolo Netzsch (+1, GER)
Lucas Labat (+6, ARG)
Dario Musso (+7, ARG)
Team Badrutt’s Palace Hotel (+16)
Richard Fagan (+1, IRL), TC
Max Hutchinson (+3, IRL)
Richard Le Poer Beresford (+6, GBR)
James Harper (+6, GBR)