As cooler weather sets in it’s time to look ahead to one of the winter’s biggest social and sporting events: the Snow Polo World Cup taking place Jan. 29–31 on the frozen lake of posh St. Moritz in Switzerland’s Engadin valley. Last year the team fielded by the leading sponsor, famed French luxury goods house Cartier, won for the third time in a row, crushing challenger BMW in what was widely considered one of the finest snow polo matches ever thanks in part to perfect conditions.
This year competitors including Maserati and Badrutt’s Palace, the legendary St. Moritz luxury hotel which overlooks the lake, are equipping their own teams to try and capture the covered Cartier Trophy. As always, admission to the lake and stands is free – some 12,000 spectators turned out for last year’s final – but the real action is in the VIP enclosures where oceans of champagne are consumed over a leisurely lunch prepared by Swiss star chef Reto Mathis.
The Snow Polo World Cup is the world’s top high-goal tournament of snow polo, which made its world debut in St. Moritz in 1985 and is played with a larger, brighter, inflatable ball. Each team transports about 20 horses to St. Moritz for the event, an arduous process which takes a day and a half in itself. Starting out by horse carrier they are then loaded onto a ferry, then in a transport truck, and finally onto a train for the journey through the snowbound mountains.
More recently, snow polo has also been gaining steam at Mont-Tremblant, Montreal’s famed ski resort. From Feb. 25–28 the second annual Snow Polo Tremblant will be played on Lac Tremblant in front of Hotel Quintessence, featuring four teams of international players. In the past the likes of Champagne Ruinart and Sun Life Financial have fielded teams at the event. Snow polo is also frequently played in Aspen, Colorado, Cortina, Italy and even Tianjin, China, where it has rapidly become a “high-end diversion” for the country’s richest citizens, according to the L.A. Times. Here’s our list of the world’s other top polo trophies:
1. Piaget USPA Gold Cup, Palm Beach, Florida
2. Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup, London, UK
3. Cartier International Polo, Windsor, UK
4. Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic, New York / L.A.
5. Argentine Open, Buenos Aires, Argentina
6. Maserati Polo Tournament, Santa Barbara
Jared Paul Stern has written for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, GQ, WWD, Vogue, New York magazine, Details, Hamptons magazine, Playboy, BlackBook, the New York Post, Bergdorf Goodman magazine and Luxist among others. He is also the founding editor of the Page Six magazine.