Snow showers save snow polo event | AspenTimes.com

Snow showers save snow polo event

Janet UrquhartAspen Times Staff Writer

Snow has saved this weekend’s World Snow Polo Championships at Wagner Park.Two days ago, city Parks Department officials were wondering if they’d have to pull the plug on the event to protect the park turf, which was lacking sufficient snow cover to handle the abuse of pounding hooves. Multiple patches of grass were poking up through the dwindling pack of hard, icy snow.”If we don’t get more snow, we might have to call it off,” said Tom Rubel, operations superintendent for the Parks Department, on Monday. “Right now it’s questionable. I hope it snows.”He got his wish.By yesterday morning, with snow accumulating at a steady pace, parks officials declared the event a definite go.The park had about 5 new inches of snow by midmorning Tuesday, according to Stephen Ellsperman, deputy parks director.”That’s enough to pack it down and leave a good base, so hopefully they won’t cause damage,” he said. “I think it will be OK.”That’s good news for snow polo organizers, since they’d been proceeding all along on the assumption that the games would take place as planned. No alternate site had been arranged.”Everybody is flying in. It’s going to be a big event,” said Barry Stout, president of the Roaring Fork Polo Club and director of the event.The club won permission in October to hold the two-day tournament at Wagner Park in downtown Aspen. It took place at Rio Grande Park last year.Crews will be setting up the polo field, spectator areas, corral and VIP tent on Thursday and Friday.Four teams of three players each are slated to take the field Saturday and Sunday. Twenty-five horses are being prepared for the tournament; most will come from Stout’s New Castle ranch.This year’s team sponsors are Gorsuch Ltd., Land Rover, L’Hostaria and the polo club. The event is free to spectators. Two games will be played each day between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., according to Stout.[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]

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