Date: Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Ascending the Polish Tatra Mountains, Team USA and 7 teams of global competitors rode on to the tundra for the 10th annual Bukovina Snow Polo Masters. The four day tournament took place from February 9-12th, highlighted by enthusiastic crowds and a dazzling lineup of post-polo events.
Participating from Newport Polo Club were Team Captain, Alexander King, and Jim DeAngelis, and rounding out men's side was Tod Randall from California. The women's team from Newport was Lauren Bilsky, with California teammate Cory Williams and Texan teammate Lara Semmelmann.
Competitors representing Poland, Slovakia, France, Netherlands, Hungary, Czech Republic, England, Austria, proved fast friends off the pitch, but fierce opponents when the ball was in play. USA’s men brought their best game, advancing to the finals before taking silver against Poland. Jim DeAngelis was named MVP. Unfamiliar teammates added to the challenge for USA’s women, finishing 4th overall.
Bukovina Snow Polo Masters is distinguished as the only international snow polo event dedicated to competition between amateur players. Played in the style of arena polo, teams of three compete in a 400’ x 150’ outdoor frozen, snow-covered arena, competing in high altitude conditions of the Tatra Mountains at the Polish ski resort of Bukovina. Footing made from compacted snow makes play technically challenging. Quick reflexes and expert riding skills are put to the test by uneven and changing surfaces conditions that can send the ball bouncing in unpredictable directions, and more frequent changes in possession of the ball.
30 players and 60 horses journeyed to the mountain resort to take part in this year’s tournament, attracting top sponsors and a sizeable spectator crowd. Along with the polo matches, there was plenty of skiing, a thermal swimming pool, and exciting events, including a fashion show by one of Poland’s top designers.