They Took Their Horses to the Swiss Alps for Snow Polo. They Got Slush Instead.


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The horses were all set. The players were ready. As were the spectators, many of whom had arrived at the idyllic winter wonderland of St. Moritz, Switzerland, with soft fur coats and stylish moon boots. Everything was in place for the Snow Polo World Cup.

But the weather didn’t play along.

Because of high temperatures, the frozen lake of St. Moritz became too slushy and slippery for the horses to gallop. As a result, the event’s founder, Reto Gaudenzi, called off all matches for the 39th installment of the tournament which was held from Friday through Sunday, and resorted to three days of slower, more stationary penalty shootouts instead.

The event, which features a variation of polo played on packed snow atop the frozen lake surface, attracts thousands of people to St. Moritz, a luxury ski resort town, many from the highest echelons of the 1 percent. It is sponsored by companies selling private jets, exclusive retreats and top-shelf champagne, and included a gala dinner that the organizers described as “the hottest ticket in town.”

Organizers tried to keep an upbeat tone: “With the weather gods smiling, perhaps delivering too much sunshine in St. Moritz recently, the ice depth is good and completely safe,” they said in a statement. (While there was no risk of anybody falling through the ice, there was concern over horses falling on the ice.)

Temperatures had been well below freezing in recent weeks, but the week before the tournament they swung as high as 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. At night, temperatures dropped back below freezing, but not long enough to prevent puddles from forming on the frozen lake.

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They Took Their Horses to the Swiss Alps for Snow Polo. They Got Slush Instead.

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