CARBONDALE, Colo., December 16, 2017---In a rematch of last year's final, Flexjet will meet U.S. Polo Assn. Sunday in the St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship at Rio Grande Park.
The game will be live streamed by ChukkerTV at 1 p.m. MST (3 p.m. EST) to a worldwide audience. The consolation game featuring Aspen Valley Polo Club and St. Regis will follow at 2:30 p.m.
A sellout VIP tent and large grandstand crowd is expected for Sunday’s festivities.
Defending champion Flexjet returns team captain Melissa Ganzi, the first woman to win the St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship, with new teammates Juan Bollini and Alejandro Novillo Astrada. The trio won the United States Arena Handicap title in Aspen this past summer.
U.S. Polo Assn., the 2015 champion, features Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini and Nic Roldan, three-time tournament Most Valuable Player. The trio defeated Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Jeff Hall, Juan Bollini), 10-5, in the 2015 final. Sunday's championship final will pit mother against son and father against son and two 8-goalers.
In last year's final, Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Jason Crowder, Jesse Bray) defeated U.S. Polo Assn. (Bash Kazi, Carlitos Gracida, Tommy Biddle), 7-4, to win the coveted trophy. In the subsidiary, Audi (Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Nic Roldan) defeated St. Regis (Bernie Uechtritz, Carlitos Gracida, Nacho Figueras).
In Friday's wild, action-packed opening qualifying round at Aspen Valley Polo Club's indoor arena in Carbondale, Flexjet advanced with a thrilling come-from-behind 6-5 victory over Aspen Valley Polo Club (Bernie Uechtritz, Carlitos Gracida, Nacho Novillo Astrada) and tied Audi (Jim Miller, Luis Escobar, Magoo Laprida), 5-5, in the opening six-chukker round robin. In the other game, Aspen Valley Polo Club defeated Audi, 7-5.
In a must-win situation, Juan Bollini scored the tying goal and Alejandro Novillo Astrada scored the winning goal with time running out to send Flexjet into the final.
"It was a very tough game, we were lucky to win," Bollini said.
Added Alejandro Novillo Astrada, "We played very well today, we will see how it goes on Sunday."
In the second hardfought round robin, U.S. Polo Assn. edged Moet (Bash Kazi/Omar Mangalhi, Mike Azzaro, Jason Crowder), 5-4, and defeated one of the pre-tournament favorites St. Regis (Marc Ganzi, Nacho Figueras, Nico Pieres), 9-5. In the other game, St. Regis topped Moet, 6-3.
Laprida and Pieres, making their snow polo debut, and Roldan each scored eight goals. Alejandro Novillo Astrada scored six goals. Uechtritz was the highest scoring patron with five goals. Grant Ganzi, Nacho Novillo Astrada, Jason Crowder and Juan Bollini each had four goals.
On Saturday, which will also serve as Media Day for international and local press, Audi and Moet will play for fifth place in a four-chukker game at 1 p.m. A Celebrity Chukker will follow at 2:15 p.m. featuring St. Regis (Saye Yabandeh, Tucan Pereyra Iraola, Nacho Figueras) against U.S. Polo Assn. (Sterling Jones, Sarah Magness, Nacho Novillo Astrada).
For the fifth consecutive year, Aspen Valley Polo Club co-founders Melissa and Marc Ganzi, are hosting the star-studded event along with Nacho Figueras, polo ambassador and St. Regis Connoisseur and his wife Delfina.
In addition to 2016 champion Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Jason Crowder, Jesse Bray) other past winners are:
2013, St. Regis (Nacho Figueras, Nic Roldan, Brandon Phillips) defeated Audi (Facundo Pieres, Melissa Ganzi, Juan Bollini), 1-0; and 2014, Piaget (Marc Ganzi, Jeff Hall, Nic Roldan) defeated U.S. Polo Assn. (Grant Ganzi, Brandon Phillips, Tommy Biddle), 4-3; and 2015, U.S. Polo Assn. (Grant Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Juancito Bollini) defeated Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Jeff Hall, Juan Bollini), 10-5.
Glitz, glamour and excitement is sharing center stage with one of the world’s top snow polo tournaments and one of Aspen's major international sporting events. It is the only snow polo event in North America and final stop on the World Polo Tour.
The tournament is a major attraction for the local community and fans from all over the world. The breathtaking scenery, venue and world-class polo action is a major allure for the Aspen community and surrounding areas.
Rio Grande Park is Aspen’s largest multi-functional park within the city’s limits and just minutes away from the St. Regis Aspen Resort.
Also on Friday, sponsors, players and guests were treated to a barn tour at Aspen Valley Polo Club, the nation's fastest-growing USPA clubs.
Weekend guests in the VIP tent will be treated to signature St. Regis Aspen Resort rituals including afternoon tea, light fare and iconic St. Regis Bloody Mary cocktail. A packed house of fans is also expected to enjoy the game from along the sidelines.
Actress and singer songwriter Kelley Alice Jakle, who starred in the "Pitch Perfect" movies will sing the National Anthem on both days. She is the great granddaughter of former Major League Baseball executive Branch Rickey, best known for signing Jackie Robinson, breaking the color barrier in baseball, and drafting Roberto Clemente, the first Hispanic superstar. The 1967 Baseball Hall of Famer died in 1965 at age 83.