St Moritz Snow Polo

St Moritz Snow Polo World Cup 2016.

Defending champions beaten in the St Moritz Final (31 January 2016).

Maserati broke the spell of Chris Hyde and his Cartier team by winning The Cartier Trophy at the Snow Polo World Cup in St Moritz on Sunday. Lessons had been learnt from Saturday’s game about how to navigate round Hyde and Gonzalez on the ice, which changed the tactics of the Musso and Menendes duo, with the support of Vazquez and Gianni.

The first chukka set the tone for the remainder of the game with Hyde powering through the wall of Maserati white shirts to score the first two goals of the game on his favourite pony Gamuzo. Maserati’s Musso scored two goals to answer the Cartier lead and end the chukka on a tie, 2-2. The second chukka was tough for both sides, with only one goal scored by Menendes to take Maserati into the lead. Cartier managed to win five penalties but failed to score with any of them, Maserati only won a single penalty in the whole chukka. Gonzalez and Hyde broke away on a number of occasions to show the crowd their powerful ponies but the Maserati defence followed their strategy – shut down the top players at all costs. The first half of the game ended with Maserati in the lead, 3-2.

Cartier’s Gonzalez started the penultimate chukka with a penalty. The powdery uneven surface was hard work for the players and the ponies and a few critical errors from the three-time winners Cartier, meant that Maserati were able to extend their lead to 5-2 going into the final chukka. The play was speckled with beautiful team work from Cartier, with each player passing to one another, up and down the field. Hyde managed to convert two penalties to close the gap 5-4. With just one minute left on the clock, Cartier looked as though they would equalise and take the game into an extra chukka. But it was not to be – Maserati remained hot on their heels, maintaining the pressure right down to the last second, to win the 32nd Snow Polo World Cup St Moritz.

As was the case in Saturday’s match between Badrutt’s Palace Hotel and Perrier-Jouët, the presence of the Argentine 9 goaler made all the difference and was crucial to securing them another win for the La Martina Cup in the Subsidiary Final earlier in the day. It was Merlos who scored the first goal for the blues and Merlos who answered Perrier-Jouët’s first goal with a beautiful solo run down the field, to bring the score to 2-1 at the end of chukka two. The third chukka saw Perrier-Jouët equalise from a spot penalty, but they couldn’t quite get an advantage as the fouls kept coming. A safety 60 for the blues looked to be going wide but Gaudenzi plucked it out of the air and sent it whizzing neatly through the posts. The high-scoring chukka ended with another goal from Merlos and an answering goal from Perrier-Jouët, bringing the score to 4-3. In the last chukka the yellow team didn’t take advantage of their two penalties, sending them both wide to the right allowing Badrutt’s Palace Hotel a chance to widen the score and move to safety, which they did, with a goal from top goal scorer Merlos to end the game 5-3.

Most Valuable Player of the tournament became Dario Musso from Argentina, who had worked a lot for the victory of his team Maserati. For organiser Reto Gaudenzi, the Godfather of snow polo who invented the venue in 1985 and who gave new life to the snow polo tradition in St. Moritz last year, the venue was simply one thing: “Just perfect!”.

The Cartier Trophy teams:

Maserati (16)
Rommy Gianni (1), Luciano Vazquez (2), Dario Musso (7) & Frankie Menendes (6)
Cartier (14)
Spencer McCarthy (1), Charlie Wooldridge (1), Chris Hyde (6) & Nacho Gonzalez (6)
Result: Maserati beat Cartier, 5-4

La Martina Cup teams:

Perrier-Jouët (15)
Cédric Schweri (0), Luca Zindel (1), Aluisio Rosa (7) & Olavo Novaes (7)
Badrutt’s Palace Hotel (15)
Melissa Ganzi (0), Agustín ‘Tincho’ Merlos (9), Mariano Gracida (4) & Tito Gaudenzi (2)
Result: Badrutt’s Palace Hotel beat Perrier Jouët, 5-3
 
(Match report source: Polo Times and Polo+10)