Aspen snow polo tourney begins |

Aspen snow polo tourney begins

Tim Mutrie/Aspen Correspondent
Special to the Daily/Paul ConradLand Rover team member Miguel Torres has his shot blocked during the second chukker of last year's World Snow Polo Championship game. Team Land Rover defeated Team Gorsuch 6-3 to win the trophy with Torres scoring three of the six points.

ASPEN – The nation’s only winter polo tournament returns to the snow-covered turf of Aspen’s Wagner Park this weekend.

The 2003 World Snow Polo Championships will feature six teams, as well as the event’s first Junior World Snow Polo exhibition.

The championships, now in their fourth year, continue to attract growing participation and national interest, according to organizer Barry Stout.

“We could have done eight teams if we had enough horses and time,” Stout said. “We had to turn people away.”

As it is, passersby can stop and watch the action at the park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and Sunday.

Stout’s New Castle ranch provides the horses; the players come from the Roaring Fork Valley and around the world.

The lineup features highly ranked players – “high-goal players” in polo parlance – including Hector Galindo, Juan Bellini, Miguel Torres, Tom Goodspeed, Tim Bown and Jack Kidd, along with Aspen players Wayne Ewing, Don Delise and Stout.

The junior event on Sunday will feature up-and-coming young players from around the country and a few from abroad.

Spectating is free, though VIP ticketholders have access to a heated tent and lunch catered by L’Hostaria. Tickets are $100 for the weekend.

For the novice, snow polo is a modified version of the traditional game. Matches are played on a snow-packed arena surrounded by snow fencing. Matches consist of four, seven-minute chukkers, or periods, between teams of three players.

The horses are shod with special, cleated shoes for traction. The ball is larger, lighter and bright red so it can be seen in the snow.

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