Next weekend’s World Snow Polo Championship will take place as scheduled in Aspen, regardless of snow conditions, the event’s organizer said Thursday.
The event, which used to be held in town at either Rio Grande Park or Wagner Park, was moved to a natural-grass field at the Marolt Open Space last year, partially out of concern about turf damage on the city parks. But with the event at Marolt, turf damage, and how much snow is on the ground to protect the turf, is less of a concern.
“It is a factor, and we want snow,” said Barry Stout, founder of the Roaring Fork Polo Club, which puts on the event. However, the games will go on regardless. There is too much sponsorship and player involvement to cancel or delay at the last minute, he noted.
Played with a red ball that stands out better on a white surface, snow polo is of course better in the snow, Stout said, noting that snow is in the forecast for the next few days.
Organizers considered trucking snow in from somewhere else.
“But there’s no place to truck it in from,” Stout said.
Stout said he’s hoping for at least 8 inches of natural snow, which would be enough for a snowcat to work into a good playing surface.
The snow polo events, which are free and open to the public, will take place between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 15-16. There will be seven parties hosted throughout the weekend and in the days leading up to the events, Stout noted.
Snow polo, founded in St. Moritz, Switzerland in the 1980s, is a modified version of polo. Games are played on a snow-packed arena surrounded by fencing keeping the ball in play. Teams are comprised of three players, as in typical arena polo. Play consists of four 7-minute chukkers (periods). The horses (polo ponies) are shod with special cleated shoes to provide better traction. The ball is larger and lighter, and bright red, to better accommodate winter conditions.