Guide to: Snow Polo
Learn all about how Polo is played in the Alps in the middle of winter
Luxurious resorts such as St Moritz, Kitzbühel, Megève and Aspen are globally renowned for alpine sports, with skiing, snowboarding and ice skating being immensely popular within the towns. Recently though, a more niche sport has emerged that’s starting to make its way onto that list – Snow Polo.
Snow Polo is undoubtedly one of the most interesting variations of the classic game – which is no easy feat considering that Penny Farthing polo exists – with matches remarkably being played on top of a frozen lake. The surfaces are prepared by a Piste Basher, a vehicle traditionally used for maintaining ski hills & trails, which makes the field of play smooth and encourages the ball to roll more fluidly.
As for the rules of the game, these loosely follow Field Polo but there are a few variations – as you’d expect – which makes Snow Polo most similar to Arena Polo. As with its Arena counterpart, the balls are inflatable and red – to aid visibility and movement – however they’re larger in size to make them bouncier and stop them from being buried in the snow.
The mallets used are also often the same as Arena Polo, with a slightly bigger head and stiffer cane than that of outdoor polo due to the larger ball.
Most tournaments are played with three players on each side, as is the case with Arena Polo, but this can vary depending on the size of the pitch. The biggest and best tournament in Snow Polo is without doubt the high goal World Cup. The tournament has been held in St Moritz – considered by many as the birthplace of the sport – since 1985. Every year in January, four teams battle it out for the trophy – which attracts thousands of spectators and lucrative sponsors.
Horses are driven from all around Europe for Snow Polo and they stay in luxurious heated stables – some of which have capacity for over 100 horses. As with Field Polo, the horses wear shoes however these are bespoke to the sport – built to provide greater grip and prevent snow from compacting underneath. Due to the altitude, temperatures and tricky surfaces, the game is much more demanding on the horses – resulting in more horses being required per game.
A high-octane variation of traditional Polo, Snow Polo continues to grow in size and stature. Outside of Europe, Apsen hosts the only Snow Polo tournament in North America, whilst other venues include Tianjin in China and Ushuia in Argentina.
Enjoyed this guide and want to find out more about the sport of Polo? Head over to our dedicated On-Field page.