Area teams set for snow polo tourney
The snow conditions in Aspen are good this time of year ” not only for skiing, but also for snow polo.
Yes, it’s the “Sport of Kings” with a twist. Six international teams descend on Aspen’s Wagner Park this weekend for the 4th Annual World Snow Polo Championships. Action runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. The elimination tournament is the only snow polo event in North America.
While the Snow Polo Championship is only in its fourth year, the sport of polo has deep roots in the Roaring Fork Valley and Glenwood Springs, in particular.
“It was kind of a mecca for polo for almost 30 years at the turn of the century,” said organizer Barry Stout, the founder of the Roaring Fork Polo Club based in New Castle.
The Devereux family, which built Glenwood’s Hotel Colorado, was influential in bringing polo to Colorado in the 1890s, earning it the local title of the “Sport of Silver Kings.” According to Stout, the Devereux family had 75 polo horses in town at one point.
While the Devereux family is no longer the owner of Hotel Colorado, the hotel will be represented by a team at the Snow Polo Championships. Other area teams include the Roaring Fork Polo Club ” which features local players Stout and Wayne Ewing ” and Aspen, which has area player Don Delise on the roster. Vying for the title with the local squads are teams from England, Argentina and Australia.
Other well-known international players include Hector Galindo, Juan Bellini, Miguel Torres, Tom Goodspeed, Tim Brown and Jack Kidd.
Snow Polo is a modified version of regular outdoor polo. Matches are played on a snow-packed arena, which is surrounded by snow fencing. Play consists of four chukkers, or periods, with teams of three players. The horses are shod with special cleated shoes for traction and the bright red balls are larger and lighter to stay on top of the snow.
“It’s a very interesting and fun sport to watch in the snow and there’s tons of excitement up close (for the fans),” Stout said. “It’s a quite fascinating exhibition of horsemanship.”
The tournament events begin today with different social events around Aspen. For information, call 566-0818. Proceeds benefit the Aspen Sister Cities Exchange Program.
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