The home of snow polo, St Moritz has hosted snow polo tournaments since 1985. As the first snow polo tournament of its kind, it is the only high goal competition played on snow.
History of Snow Polo
Hotelier Reto Gaudenzi put together the first Swiss polo team and played an international match in 1983. From there, in 1985, came the progression to playing this hectic game on the frozen St Moritz lake.
The worldwide trend in snow polo grew exponentially and is now played from Tianjin in China, across the globe to Cortina, Italy and Aspen in the US.
Cartier Cup and World Cup
However, St Moritz still remains the most respected snow competition, with international teams competing for the coveted Cartier Trophy. On this frozen lake,the world’s best four-goal teams compete for the highest prize money during the Snow Polo World Cup.
With smaller fields than their grass polo compadres, due to the increased physical strain of playing on snow and ice, and compounded by the high altitude, the St Moritz field measures 80×200 metres varying depending on snow conditions and the weather. The goal measures 7.3 metres wide with two posts, but no crossbar, on either side. A firm pitch that is well maintained and level means the game can be played on virtually any field of acceptable size.
Four players complete each team, with the captain wearing the number 3 shirt as the tactical leader. Numbers 1 and 2 are attackers, and the back, or Number 4, is in defence. Each of the players is rated from -2 to 10, with -2 denoting a novice, and +10 an experienced, talented player. The team’s handicap is the sum of all the handicaps of the team.
Many of the rules remain the same as standard grass polo, with low, medium or high goal levels. Generally, four chukkas, or periods of play, lasting for 7.5 minutes for the first 3 and 7 minutes for the final one, are played in a high-goal match. A pony will only be played for two, nonconsecutive chukkas.
With more than 12,000 spectators in 2015, St Moritz again demonstrated the ability to host an excellent world cup, with extraordinary ambiance alongside the snow polo field. This unique tournament, held at 1850 metres above sea level, along with the sophistication of the exclusive and extravagant hosts, make this an experience never to be forgotten.