Team Azerbaijan Land of Fire Retain Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz: A spectacular trio of matches tops off the busiest tournament ever
The excitement was palpable at the most glamorous and spectacular snow polo event in the world reached its climax. With 250 of the world’s press, polo aficionados and more than 25,500 spectators from both St. Moritz and across the globe all anticipating a true clash of the polo Titans as some of the best polo players in the world gathered to do battle on the frozen lake of St. Moritz. Reto Gaudenzi, Founder & CEO of the Snow Polo World Cup enthused, “we have had fantastic weather, great polo and we have sold every ticket available, the event this year is unbelievable!”. He certainly is not wrong – this is an incredible event that needs to be experienced to be believed and needs to be on everybody’s ‘to do’ list.
Match 1: World Polo League beat Flexjet, 7-5½
The first match of the day saw Flexjet take on World Polo League for The Casablanca Trophy at 11am in a fast and flowing match. Flexjet’s Clemente Delfosse opened the scoring, but World Polo League quickly dominated the play for the first half. After half-time, Flexjet began to flex their muscles but were unable to catch mother and son Ganzi duo’s World Polo League, who ran out the winners 7-5½. Stephen Alexander, Chief Executive of Casablanca, presented the trophy to a delighted Melissa Ganzi.
Match 2: Clinique La Prairie beat The Kusnacht Practice, 3-2
The record-breaking crowds were in for a treat with the second match of the day between Clinique La Prairie and The Kusnacht Practice in the Subsidiary Final for The St. Moritz Trophy and Clinique La Prairie’s Matthias Normann wasted no time in opening the scoring. The Kusnacht Practice struggled to find their form in the first half, with fantastic defence from Clinique La Prairie hampering each attempt on goal. With evenly matched teams, the match was a fast-flowing, open and a thrilling match to watch and the 1-0 score at half-time did not reflect the efforts of both sides. The start of the third chukka saw Alejo Taranco equalise, but he was effectively marked out of the second half. Juan Guerrero took the lead to the delight of their supporters, which brought on frenzied efforts from Clinique La Prairie to equalise, which they managed with a strong penalty from Marc Ganzi which meant that with just 20 seconds left on the clock the match was pushed into a sudden death, golden goal over-time period. With all to play for in in this pivotal part of the match an expectant hush fell over the crowd and as commentator Jan-Erik Franck pointed out, “You could hear a snowflake drop, it’s so tense.” After a frenetic battle for possession, a penalty was given in favour of Clinique La Prairie which ‘The Cobra’ Ganzi effortlessly sent home to secure the second win for the Ganzi family today.
Final/Match 3: Azerbaijan Land of Fire beat St. Moritz, 6-5
So, it was time for the hotly anticipated finale to the three-day polo spectacular, as a skilled and on form St. Moritz team faced last year’s winners – the well-drilled Azerbaijan Land of Fire team, in front of capacity crowds. Sparkling sunshine, music pumping out courtesy of DJ Mr Mike and ‘on tap’ Perrier Jouët champagne meant the fur clad, uber glam spectators were in high spirits as the first ball was thrown in. The pressure was on for Azerbaijan Land of Fire to deliver the goods for the second year and they were on full power from the first throw in. Their line-up had also seen a tactical change of players to allow the Final to take place between teams of even handicaps. So the talented Tito Gaudenzi who plays off 2 goals and had played in the team’s two winning matches was replaced by Tarlan Gurbanaliyev for the Final.