Led by the kids, Blade and Bow beats St. Regis to win 10th anniversary of Aspen World Snow Polo Championship

Team Blade and Bow, from left, Tommy Biddle, Hilario Figueras and Grant Ganzi celebrate with the trophy after winning the World Snow Polo Championship on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022, at Rio Grande Park in Aspen.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Chalk this one up to the kids.

Blade and Bow’s Grant Ganzi and Hilario Figueras each overcame a parent in the final of the World Snow Polo Championship on Wednesday, besting St. Regis for a come-from-behind 9-8 win at Rio Grande Park in Aspen.

“It’s always tough playing the parents,” said Ganzi, who had to ride against his mother, Melissa Ganzi, in the final. “I always love playing with and against my mom — more with her now — but it’s been great to be able to be back. I love being in Aspen during Christmas time.”

The Ganzi family, led by patriarch Marc Ganzi, is behind the Aspen Valley Polo Club and Aspen’s rendition of snow polo, the only North American locale to host the unique take on the “sport of kings.” This year marked the 10th anniversary of snow polo being held in Aspen, where it has become a popular staple for locals and visitors alike in the lead-up to the holidays.

“It keeps getting better and better. People love it. They all want to come to the event,” said Argentine polo icon Nacho Figueras, father of Hilario, who has been a mainstay at Aspen snow polo since its beginning. “Look at this view here in this incredible town. I think this event finally is what it always deserved to be and I’m very proud that I’ve been here for every single year of the 10th anniversary.”

Prior to the start of Wednesday’s final, Nacho Figueras took part in a photo session that included both actress Kate Hudson — who partially grew up in Aspen — and snowboard icon Shaun White, who rose to fame largely through his dominance at X Games Aspen over the years. They were among a handful of celebrities enjoying this year’s snow polo action.

A large chunk of money was also raised for both Aspen Valley Hospital and Valley View Hospital. Marc Ganzi presented each with a check for $15,000 after the final.

Blade and Bow’s Hilario Figueras looks to control the ball against St. Regis in the final of the World Snow Polo Championship on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022, at Rio Grande Park in Aspen.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

The 1 p.m. final featured Blade and Bow — a whiskey company — facing off against St. Regis, which is also the title sponsor for the event. Along with Grant Ganzi and Hilario Figueras, Tommy Biddle, one of the all-time great American polo players, joined the winning threesome. On the other side with St. Regis were Nacho Figueras, Melissa Ganzi and Alejandro Novillo Astrada, another highly ranked player from Argentina.

“We were clawing back the whole game. They got a cushion on us and then they scored a quick one — my mom scored an amazing goal. And they scored another goal,” Grant Ganzi said of Blade and Bow falling into a large deficit early on. “It was a lot of goals we had to make up. And I missed a couple of penalties. So, honestly, I was proud of my teammates. They fought really hard and I was happy I was able to knock the penalties down the second half when they were really important.”

Biddle’s miracle strike, which had him scoring from nearly the full length of the arena in the final seconds of the first half, cut the St. Regis lead to only 6-5 at the midway point. The game was tied 8-all entering the fourth and final chukker before Blade and Bow took the lead with a little over three minutes to play and was able to hold on from there.

Actress Kate Hudson, left, chats with Argentine polo player Nacho Figueras from horseback prior to the start of the World Snow Polo Championship final on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022, at Rio Grande Park in Aspen.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

“I don’t know about that,” Nacho Figueras said when asked if losing to his own son was a worthy consolation. “It’s always fun to see the kids excel. So that was fun. But I always like to win, so I wasn’t so happy about the result. But they beat us fair and square and I can’t wait until next year.”

Biddle was named the game’s most valuable player.

This was Blade and Bow’s first championship in Aspen. St. Regis won the first, back in 2013, but remains looking for its second. St. Regis also lost in the finals last year to Richard Mille, a Swiss company that makes luxury watches.

Blade and Bow made Wednesday’s final after knocking off Richard Mille, winners of three of the past four Aspen World Snow Polo Championships, in Monday’s preliminaries. Richard Mille beat NetJets in the third-place match on Wednesday afternoon, while CK Shack beat Edmiston on Tuesday in the fifth-place game.

This was Grant Ganzi’s third time winning the snow polo title in Aspen. He also won it in 2015 and 2017, both with U.S. Polo Assn. Hilario Figueras is now a two-time winner, having also won it in 2020 with World Polo League, alongside Grant’s sister, Riley Ganzi.

This was Biddle’s first Aspen snow polo title.

“I was just happy we were able to come back and not give up. It was an amazing game. Hats off to St. Regis. They played incredible,” Grant Ganzi said. “My mom played one of the best snow polo games I’ve seen her play in her life and Alejandro and Nacho battled their asses off to win. Kudos to them and all the love in the world to my teammates. They killed it.”

While Nacho Figueras had to settle for another runner-up finish, his week wasn’t all bad. During Sunday’s team draw at the St. Regis Aspen, he was seen running through the hallways with the Argentine colors. Earlier that morning, Argentina’s men’s national soccer team and its superstar Lionel Messi had defeated France to win the World Cup.

“We’ve been waiting for that for a very long time. It was very important for our country and made a lot of people, millions of people, very happy,” Nacho Figueras said. “It was a very exciting game, I think one of the most exciting World Cups ever. It’s good that it went our way.”