The Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz: A Blend of Tradition and Elegance on Ice
In the picturesque town of St. Moritz, the last weekend of January is reserved for a spectacle unlike any other: the Snow Polo World Cup. Since its inception in 1985, this event has transformed St. Moritz into the epicentre of snow polo, attracting teams from across the globe to compete on its frozen lake.
Polo, a sport with over 2600 years of history, found its way to St. Moritz in 1899. The first polo field was created for the entertainment of stationed English soldiers. The idea of playing polo on snow was released in 1985, an innovative concept that initiated a global trend in the sport.
The Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz is distinguished as the only high-goal tournament on snow, offering a challenging and unique environment for players. This prestigious event showcases six high-goal teams competing for the coveted trophy, making it the most prestigious and highest-paying polo tournament on snow.
Snow polo is played on a smaller field than traditional grass polo, with a size of about 80 by 200 metres, to accommodate the unique challenges of playing on snow. Each team consists of four players, including a captain and a defensive player known as the back.
Players are rated on a scale from -2 to 10, with team handicaps calculated as the sum of individual player ratings.
Matches typically consist of four chukkas (periods) lasting 7 1⁄2 minutes each, with a pony allowed to play in a maximum of two non-consecutive chukkas. The central rule of polo, focusing on the safety of ponies and riders, dictates the player’s position in relation to the ball. Hooking and riding off are strategic moves to gain advantage, with specific guidelines to ensure fair play.
The Snow Polo World Cup is deeply integrated into the social fabric of St. Moritz, with events held both on the lake and in the town’s luxury hotels. Over 25,000 spectators gather to witness the blend of elegance, speed and skill encapsulated by the spirit of traditional British sportsmanship.
The St. Moritz Polo Club, founded in 1959, laid the foundation for the town’s polo legacy, initially with summer tournaments.
St. Moritz has hosted significant events like the FIP European Championship in 1993 and the FIP World Championship in 1995, further solidifying its status in the polo world.
The introduction of snow polo in St. Moritz revolutionised the traditional polo scene, creating a new dimension in the sport.
The success of the Snow Polo World Cup in St. Moritz has inspired similar tournaments in locations like Aspen, Cortina and Kitzbühel.
The Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz represents more than just a sporting event; it is a celebration of history, innovation and the enduring appeal of polo. With each chukka played against the breathtaking backdrop of the Engadin Valley, the tournament embodies tradition, class, hospitality and emotion. As polo continues to evolve, the Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz remains a symbol of the sport’s elegance and the pinnacle of winter polo excellence.