If conventional polo has an ancient and honourable pedigree, when the match takes place on a frozen lake just a stone's throw from one of the most exclusive resorts in the world, we're clearly talking about a very special sporting event. More than that, though, it's bound to be a top-notch social event.
Twenty thousand spectators are expected to gather between 28th and 31st of January, when the St. Moritz Polo World Cup on Snow is celebrated. It's the world's biggest snow polo tournament. And almost certainly the most glamorous.
This year, as in other years, the elite event will take place on the now-frozen lake, near the Swiss resort of St. Moritz, the favourite of so many of the rich and famous. Some of the best polo players of international repute will be among the ranks of the four opposing teams: the Cartier team stars New Zealander John Paul Clarkin, while the Brioni team is headed by the Uruguayan David "Pelon" Stirling; Paul Jauretche plays for Maserati, and the defending champions, the Julius Baer Bank team, include the Argentinian Pablo MacDonough, with a handicap of 10 - the undisputed star.
Elegance, strength, speed and the typical British spirit of fair play will come together on the ice during the four-day tournament, where, at an altitude of 1,800 metres, the four teams will play each other, until the final on Sunday decides who is to receive the coveted Cartier trophy.
The 26th edition of the tournament takes place this year under the slogan "Engadin/Graubünden", alluding to the mountain landscapes of the Swiss canton that serves as setting. Local speciality cuisine will be available from the hands of Andreas Caminada - recently named "Chef of the Year" - Reto Mathis and Roland Jöhri, while the musical entertainment will be provided by the young virtuoso Eliana Burki, a Swiss Alpine horn player whose original blues-jazz-funk style is at odds with the tradition of this national instrument.
The championship in St. Moritz leads the new season of polo on snow, which continues next month with the Cortina Winter Polo Audi Gold Cup from 21st to 27th February, in the elite Italian ski resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo.
Once in St. Moritz, if you can stay for a few days skiing, remember there's yet another spectacular sporting event lined up for the first three Sundays in February (7th, 14th and 21st): White Turf, the international horse racing event that, for over a century, has been held on the "flattest race course in the world" - the frozen surface of St Moritz lake.
Tickets for seats in the tiered stands set up for viewing the polo matches can be purchased on-line or directly in the reception tent located alongside the lake. The price is 50 Swiss francs per person per day. Alternatively, if you prefer to watch from the standing area, the show is free. There are also "hospitality tickets" available, which, for 470 francs a day, include a seat in the stands and access to the hospitality tent where the local specialities of chef Reto Mathis can be enjoyed throughout the day in the perfect atmosphere. Tickets for the "Polo Party" on Friday 29th can also be booked on-line.
St. Moritz Polo World Cup on Snow
St. Moritz Tourism