A win for England in the opening event of the 2015 PIPA International Snow Polo Championship Tour
By Victoria Elsbury-Legg
Snow may well have arrived this morning settling on the fields and wintering polo pitches of Berkshire and Cowdray, causing rugged up ponies to cavort around their paddocks with even more delight than usual, in Austria however the largest polo tour of the snow is already well underway. The opening event of the 2015 PIPA (Polo Instructors and Players Association) Snow Polo Championship Tour was held on 23rd – 25th January 2015 in the Austrian Alps (1200 metres above sea level) at the Nordic Skiing World Cup and Olympic Resort, Seefeld, Austria. A region twenty minutes from Innsbruck which was also the backdrop for the Winter Olympics in 1964 and 1976 and in 2012 the Winter Youth Games.
Weather conditions have also played a part in this championships however, with high temperatures in December causing the cancellation of the event which was originally planned to start the snow polo tour on 4th – 6th January at the Munich Olympic Park. As Dr. Uwe Seebacher, President of the Polo Instructors’ and Players’ Association explained, ‘The event should have taken place after the finish of the Audi FIS Ski World Cup, re-using their snow and event infrastructure. However, due to the high temperatures in late December, FIS cancelled their event and so obviously we had no choice but to do the same. However, we are already firmly booked in the famous Olympic Park for the same tour opening event in 2016.’
Presented by A Quechua World of Polo and Happy Horse Holzedelstreu, the Seefeld three-day festival proved to be a great success for team England (captain Tim Ward), who played alongside Germany (captain Joe Reinhardt), Argentina (captain Carlos Velazquez), Slovakia, (captain Ladislav Agardi) and Austria (captain Uwe Seebacher). Played on a 35 x 80 metre snow polo field, each team consists of two players and four chukkas of 6 minutes and 30 seconds each in duration. The games were overseen by English umpire Sean Dayus.
After three days of play it was team England (Tim Ward and Marc Aberle) as the winners of the first event, having beaten Slovakia (Alexandra Bencikova and Ladislav Agardi) by 17 goals to 3, who were awarded the trophy and first four points of the 2015 PIPA International Snow Polo Championship Tour. In the Subsidiary Final Germany (Chris von Eupen and Joe Reinhard) beat Austria (Uwe Seebacher and Klarina Pilcher) 5-3, after the game had to be called off in the final chukka, due to dangerous conditions caused by fresh snow. Best Playing Pony Award went to A4, owned by A Quechua World of Polo and ridden by Uwe Seebacher, and Most Valuable Player Award to Klarina Pichler of team Austria.
The next PIPA International Snow Polo Championship Tour event will take place in Salzburg, at Bad Gastein, from February 27th – March 1st. The teams likely to be competing are: Austria, Chile, England, Italy and Slovakia, players will be announced one week prior to the event.
More information at www.snowpolo.org.