The 34th edition of the legendary Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz, took place from the 26th to the 28th of January 2018. The beautiful lake, in the heart of the Engadin Valley, was frozen to a perfect depth of 54cms (Testo Italiano QUI).
However, not only has the ice been frozen to optimum depth, the snow has been crisp and plentiful, and the sun has been warming the thousands of spectators sitting in the tribune, sipping Perrier Jouët.
For the first time since the creation of the Polo Cup, Azerbaijan, the homeland of polo sports, has come to the lake as patron to one of the competing teams headed by Elchin Jamalli.
Melissa Ganzi, USA, captain of the Team Badrutt’s Palace Hotel will no longer be the only woman in the game. The Russian Zhanna Bandurko will be giving her debut on the frozen Lake St. Moritz as captain of Team Maserati. The Italian Rommy Gianni, the winner of the previous two tournaments (with Maserati in 2016 and with Cartier in 2017), will, yet again, be playing for Team Cartier.
Cartier dominated the play in the match with Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, scoring two goals in as many minutes, as the goal-scoring machine Chris ‘The Prof’ Hyde well and truly unleashed his might. In the first challenge of this year tournament, the well-seasoned Team Cartier used all their power to take home the win 5-2.
In the second match of the day, Maserati took to the field against this year’s new boys in town, Azerbaijan Land of Fire, for the Carlton Hotel Challenge. Maserati narrowly took home the win over Azerbaijan, with the score at 2-1½.
The first match was an anticipation of the challenge about to take place the following day, between the Cartier and Maserati teams. Despite an epic goal culminating in Juan Cruz Greguoli colliding with the goal post, as the play headed towards half-time, Robert Strom and Gerardo Mazzini fired two consecutive goals for Maserati.
The scores read 2-1½ at the beginning of the third chukka. A third and final goal from the ‘Red Devils’, sealed the deal for Cartier 2-2½.
In the afternoon, in a team line-up change, the Azeri’s welcomed Tarlan Gurbanaliyev into the number one position. Lala Laplacette scored two goals in as many minutes. At half-time, the scores sat at 3-1. During the third chukka the boys in white put another four goals on the scoreboard. Elchin Jamalli signed on the dotted line for Azerbaijan Land of Fire with two goals to win the match 9-4.
The first match saw 2017 runners-up Badrutt’s Palace take to the arena against Azerbaijan Land of Fire for the La Martina Cup. By half-time, the scoreboard read 3-2 in Azerbaijan’s favor. Badrutt’s Palace came back fighting, with a goal in the final moments, however, it just wasn’t enough and Azerbaijan rode away, the winners 5-4.
The Final for the first and second place was an epic battle. Despite a goal-less first chukka, from halftime, Team Maserati was taking no prisoners – Hissam Al Hyder raced up and down the field with Robert Strom and Gerardo Mazzini ably backing him up. In a great play, Strom dribbled through not one, nor two, but three Cartier players to gently place the ball through the posts, thus narrowing the gap between the scores to 3½-3.
With 1.41minutes on the clock, Maserati made one more attempt to even the scoreboard and with the successful goal, it looked like they might be able to break through. No luck.
The ‘Red Devils’ won 4½-4 the Cartier Trophy and with it the Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz 2018.
The third consecutive win for the Italian Captain, Rommy Gianni and a monumental seventh win for ‘The Prof’ himself, Chris Hyde. The Most Valuable Player was awarded to Dario Musso, whilst the Polo Times Best Playing Pony rug was presented to Zedan, played by Musso. Unsurprisingly, the Best Playing Patron was presented to the Cartier Captain Rommy Gianni.