Paige Boone, field’s youngest competitor, not short on polo experience
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” This year, three women competed in the Snow Polo Championships: Melissa Ganzi of L’Hostaria, Kristen Sztengel of WJB Capital, and Paige Boone, of Roaring Fork Villages.
Boone, at 19, was the youngest of all the players, and a talented rider and aggressive competitor. On the sidelines, watching the games as she prepared for her chukkers, she looks like the college freshman she is ” fresh faced, sparkly eyes, and having a good time.
But when she gets out on the field, she is playing to win, hooking hard and slamming herself and her horse against opponents as she fights for the ball.
“I’ve been playing polo since I was 13 or 14,” she said.
Now she plays competitively as a member of the CSU polo team.
When asked how her sport affects her studies, she laughs and says, “We have prearranged, excused absences. We get together with our professors and work it out.”
Prearranged absences and sports events? Sounds a lot like student ski racers here in Aspen.
Olivia Stringer, Boone’s polo coach at CSU, was on the sidelines on Sunday to watch her compete.
“I actually started coaching Paige when she was at polo summer camp in Charlottesville, Va. She was about 14 or so years old,” Stringer said. “She just started this year as a freshman, and she’s taking to it fast. She’s a great rider and has such a natural ability.”
Kiley Vihlein, another CSU polo player was also there to cheer Boone on. She, too, is chalking up those pre-arranged absences.
“We travel and stay at hotels with teams from other colleges. It’s fun.”
Coach Stringer said the CSU polo team lost four of its best players to graduation, so the experienced players ” Boone and Vihlein ” are an asset to the team.
What else did Stringer bring to Aspen besides enthusiasm and a CSU cheering section for Boone?
“We brought her up a horse from CSU ” a pony named Zach.”
It’s one thing for your coach to bring up an extra pair of skis and a cheering section ” but to trailer up a polo pony … That’s one dedicated coach.
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