The national governing body for polo, the United States Polo Association (USPA) announced that Piaget has won the USPA Piaget World Snow Polo Championship. Piaget defeated U.S. Polo Assn. by a score of 4-3.
Today’s finals of this officially sanctioned USPA event were played at Rio Grande Park in Aspen, Colorado. Competition was fierce this year as defending champion St. Regis Hotels and Resorts faced off against Piaget, U.S. Polo Assn, Audi, Aspen Valley Polo Club and Flexjet. The finals between Piaget and U.S. Polo Assn, were played in front of a large crowd. U.S. Polo Assn. is the official apparel sponsor for the World Snow Polo Championship and the official USPA consumer brand.
This was the 15th year that the tournament has taken place and the second time that it was organized by Aspen Valley Polo Club. The games were played in a three-on-three arena format. Horses handle the snow and ice with specially designed cleated shoes, giving them the needed traction for snow polo. The ball used is lighter and larger than normal. This, along with being red in color is better for play in the snow.
Nic Roldan scored two goals to give Piaget a 2-0 lead early in the four-chukker championship game. One of his goals came off of a penalty conversion while the other was scored during regular play in the field. U.S. Polo Assn. evened the score at 2-2 after Tommy Biddle scored twice. Jeff Hall’s third chukker penalty shot returned the lead to Piaget until Grant Ganzi scored the equalizer to knot the score 3-3. Hall brought the lead back to Piaget for good, scoring off of a penalty shot in the fourth chukker to give his team the win and the USPA World Snow Polo Championship.
Audi, led by Roberto Gonzalez, Kris Kampsen and Melissa Ganzi defeated FlexJet in the third place game. The final score for the consolation game was 11-8 in favor of Audi, offering a thrilling day for fans of snow polo action in Aspen.
Roden, who won Tournament MVP honors said while the game was fun, it was a battle, neither the let up in the game. The MVP continued to say that every year the games get more competitive. This year showed no difference. Roden’s team happened to be luckier than U.S. Polo Assn. this year.
The host club, Aspen Valley Polo Club, is a new private polo club in the nation and offers a facility with a wooden horse polo pit, a club house along with a stick-and-ball field, indoor school, exercise track and arena, coaches, stables and more. Today’s event is not the first tournament hosted by the club. Previously, world-ranked polo athletes have participated in tournaments at the club.
Piaget winning the USPA World Snow Polo Championships will air on the NBC Sports Network at 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on December 27. This will mark the first time in history that the thrilling final of the only snow polo tournament in North America will have aired on television. The airing of the exciting championship game is hoped to open the doors to bring in more fans and participants to polo and snow polo.
Commentary by Carl Auer