Polo team's chilly conquest puts Hong Kong on top of the world

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 February, 2013, 5:23am

Hong Kong has won very few world titles over the years.

But surely the most unlikely success came earlier this month when a team from the city beat Argentina to retain their Snow Polo World Cup crown at the Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club.

The team of Guillermo Terrera, Martin Inchauspe and John Fisher won 5-4 to hold on to the trophy they won at last year's inaugural event.

Hong Kong International Polo and Equestrian Sports Club member Michael Wong did the Cantonese commentary for TVB Pearl during the Tianjin tournament.

He said polo, let alone snow polo, was not actually played in Hong Kong so players practised and competed in Europe, North America, Southeast Asia or on the mainland.

"The three players were part of the winning team in 2012, so they had already developed a nice sense of teamwork," Wong said. "As they advanced through the different stages of the tournament, they worked together strategically and made plenty of skilful plays as a team. They also completed a number of penalty shots at crucial moments."

Although first conceived in 1959, the sport of snow polo did not get its official start until 1985, when the first match was played on the frozen surface of Lake St Moritz in Switzerland.

That first game drew only 1,000 spectators, but snow polo has since grown in popularity and today is played not only in Switzerland but Italy, Austria, France, the United States, Argentina, Russia and Spain.

It is also gaining ground in Asia, most notably in China.

Played on a flat area of compacted snow or a frozen lake, snow polo provides the same speed and physicality as traditional field polo but is much quicker due to the smaller playing field.

Spectators also get to see the game at much closer quarters thanks to the high sideboards right at the edge of the pitch.