Glistening snow, swift strikes, and noble horses—snow polo is a fascinating team sport which emanates glamour.
At the 20th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup in Kitzbühel, which will take place from 12 to 15 January, eight teams will compete to score goals within a chukka. But what is a chukka? The real estate experts at Engel & Völkers explain everything you need to know about snow polo.
The perfect riding and striking techniques have always been fascinating when it comes to polo. In mid-January, the polo elite meet in Reith bei Kitzbühel for a fast-paced game in the snow arena on the Münichauerwiese. While polo is played on expansive fields in the summer, snow polo is played in an arena. The difference: in arena polo, the field is clearly enclosed by barriers.
Did you know...? It is free to get into the arena to watch the 20th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup between 12 and 15 January. Everyone can watch the exciting games. There are also plenty of parking spaces available on the Münichauerwiese. If you travel by train, you can comfortably alight at Schwarzsee and take a short walk to the arena. If you arrive by bus, you can get off at Schloss Münichau, which is in the immediate vicinity of the snow arena.
How the game is played
Two teams of three players compete against each other in the Snow Polo Arena in Kitzbühel. A game consists of a minimum of four and a maximum of eight periods called chukka. In snow polo, a chukka lasts seven minutes. If the referee interrupts the game, the time is stopped.
The aim of the game
The aim of all polo players is to shoot the ball into the open-topped goals, which are 3.65 metres wide. There is no goalkeeper. Something which is confusing for some spectators and polo novices is the fact that the direction of play changes following every goal, so it is important to pay attention. Why? As dazzling light might otherwise pose a disadvantage to one of the teams. In polo, a great deal of emphasis is placed on fairness.
The most important rule of the game
The most fundamental rule in polo is the right of way. In each situation arising in a game, the right of way is held by the player on the line of the ball. No player may enter or cross this right of way—unless there is no risk of collision or danger to horse and rider. You can gain the right of way, for example, by "riding off", which means that you try to push the opponent with your horse at an obtuse angle.
What happens in the event of a foul?
In the event of a foul, such as impeaching on a player’s right of way, the obstructed team may take a penalty. As in football, a player can be cautioned or even sent off for foul play.
The horses are the secret stars
The welfare of the horses is very close to the hearts of all the athletes—because ultimately, they are the secret stars of every polo match. These horses are usually specially bred polo ponies from Argentina. While the rider plays the full duration of the game, a horse must never be used in two chukkas in a row. Polo players may therefore enter a tournament with a minimum of two horses, although they usually bring four or five.
What is remarkable is that horses, which are naturally timid flight animals, have to develop a fighting and hunting spirit in polo and allow the mallet to be handled close to their heads
How snow polo made it to Kitzbühel
Polo players Reto and Tito Gaudenzi brought snow polo to Kitzbühel. The first tournament was held in 2003 with four international teams and watched by around 1,000 spectators. In the meantime, the snow polo tournament in Kitzbühel has established itself as one of the world's leading events, alongside famous tournaments such as the one in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Eight international teams play in front of an audience of around 15,000 spectators. In 2023, the spectacle will take place for the 20th time in Kitzbühel.
Did you know...? Kitzbühel’s first Polo Club was founded in 2017 and acts as the official host of the Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup.
The team at Engel & Völkers
Keep your fingers crossed for Engel & Völkers’ snow polo team. Engel & Völkers Alpine Region Tyrol & Salzburg Land has been sponsoring polo in Kitzbühel for years. This year, we are the team sponsor of Brazilians Henrique Schalldach (+2) and Marcus Schalldach (+2), who are competing together with Guilhermo Lins (+6). The team’s handicap is +10. We might even be able to celebrate a victory again for the first time since 2016.
The number reveals how good a player is
What do the numbers mean? Depending on their performance, each polo player has a personal handicap, which starts at -2 and can go up to +10. At present, almost all of the world’s best polo players, who have a handicap of +10, come from Argentina. The sum of the individual handicaps forms a team’s total handicap. If teams with different handicaps compete against each other, the team with the lower handicap gets a goal advantage.
Did you know...? Polo is very popular in the British Royal Family. King Charles III was an enthusiastic polo player. In his prime, his handicap was +2.
Top-class sport and social highlights
The 20th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup in Kitzbühel from 12 to 15 January promises a combination of perfect polo sport with the stunning scenic backdrop of the Wilder Kaiser and social highlights.
The legendary Hochkitzbühel bei Tomschy Restaurant will be responsible for the Snow Polo Arena’s outdoor catering this year and will have its own hut and terrace. This guarantees a perfect view of the polo field.
Tickets for the VIP tent and the exclusive polo players’ party are available here. In addition to the sports competitions, there will be a number of supporting events, which the real estate experts from Engel & Völkers are sure they will not miss.
We are looking forward to seeing you at our Engel & Völkers stand in the Snow Polo Arena at the 20th Bendura Snow Polo World Cup from 12 to 15 January in Kitzbühel!
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