SNOW POLO WORLD CUP ST. MORITZ: SIX THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
January 18, 2024
The countdown to the exhilarating 39th Snow Polo World Cup in St Moritz is well and truly on, with just days until the event begins on 26th January 2024.
Flexjet is returning as a sponsor for a third year, once again headlining one of the six world class polo teams who compete for the coveted trophy on the frozen Lake St. Moritz in Switzerland.
The heady mix of an ideal mountain climate, untouched nature and world-class luxury attracts not only sports lovers but also a glittering array of A-list spectators from all over the world, including many Flexjet aircraft Owners who enjoy VIP hospitality over the three-day event.
So as we pack our bags for this most prestigious of winter sports events, here are a few key facts to know before you go.
1. Snow Polo in St. Moritz is bigger (literally) than anywhere else
While this isn’t the world’s only polo event to be played on snow, The Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz is considered the most important for several reasons, including the scale of the 200m x 100m field. Other Snow Polo events, such as in Kitzbühel, Cortina and Aspen, are scaled down compared to grass or arena polo, with teams made up of three versus three.
However in St. Moritz, it’s four against four, as in normal polo, with the captain, who leads the team’s tactics, usually wearing shirt number 3. Number 4, also known as back, oversees the defence, with the other two in attack.
2. The scoreline doesn’t start at 0-0
In Snow Polo (and polo at large), each player is rated on a scale from -2 to 10. A novice player would hold a handicap of -2, while +10 denotes one of the best players in the world. The handicap of a team is the sum of the handicaps of all four team members and, as the two teams prepare to compete, any difference in their handicaps is levelled out by allocating the corresponding number of goals at the start to the team with the lower handicap.
3. Snow Polo has been played in St. Moritz for almost 40 years
While international summer polo tournaments have taken place in St. Moritz since the 1960s, Snow Polo began officially in 1985, founded by local player and polo legend Reto Gaudenzi, who remains at the helm of the tournament today. Gaudenzi had the audacious idea to transform the frozen surface of Lake St. Moritz into a winter polo field and, after trial matches in 1984 were deemed a success, the first fully-fledged polo tournament on snow took place one year later. Snow Polo has since grown into a cornerstone of St. Moritz’s iconic, winter appeal.
4. The polo ponies are the real VIPs
Playing polo on snow brings different challenges for ponies, just as it does for players, who usually bring four or five horses each. These 120+ equine competitors in St. Moritz are looked after with exceptional care and attention at the state-of-the-art, heated stables and during the competition.
The ponies arrive in St. Moritz at least a week ahead of the tournament to acclimatise to the cold and high altitude since, like human athletes, they need to normalise their energy levels. Special adaptations for Snow Polo include horseshoes that provide more grip and prevent snow clogging up under the hoof. Other safeguards include all manes being ‘hogged’ (cut very short) and tails plaited and tied up (except the umpires’ ponies which are left undone) to stop the players’ mallets getting caught during the matches.
5. There’s plenty of off-field appeal too
The action on the polo field is certainly spectacular, but that’s only part of the appeal. At the event, visitors can enjoy some exceptional hospitality and a lively atmosphere, including the VIP area where the champagne flows and lunch is served overlooking the winter wonderland. Flexjet hosts will be on hand for our aircraft Owners and guests throughout the weekend, including at our dedicated lounge space within the VIP enclosure.
Then there’s the wider, iconic appeal of St. Moritz – certainly a compelling place to spend a few more days. There’s easy access to the diverse ski areas of Corviglia, Corvatsch and Diavolezza; and a luxury hotel, restaurant and nightlife scene to rival any winter resort. The wonderful 5-star Kulm Hotel has a special history dating back to 1856 and, for night owls, Dracula Club is widely regarded as the hottest ticket in town
6. It’s remote but there’s one way to save hours of travel time
Given its remote, alpine location, the Snow Polo World Cup – and St. Moritz at any time of year – is not the easiest place to reach. Situated around 3 hours by road from Zurich, Innsbruck or Milan’s airports, or at least 3.5 hours by train, it can take a significant investment of time to get there.
However one way around that is to fly into the dedicated private airport of Samedan (LSZS), just minutes from the town. Flexjet aircraft Owners will arrive directly into the heart of the action on our high-performance European fleet, including the super-midsize Praetor 600 and ultra-long-range Gulfstream G650.
To discover more about the Flexjet European fleet and programmes, contact our team using the form below, or call us on +44 (0) 203 856 8151.