[Translate to EN:] Kitz Snowpolo

04.02.2020 | Sports & Freetime

19th Snow Polo in Kitzbühel in January 2022

The Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup Kitzbühel

Today we would like to introduce you to the sport of polo and the most important rules. 

Polo is a team sport where the players (4 per team) riding on horses have to hit a ball into the opponent's goal with a long wooden bat. The players wear helmets and change horses several times during the game.

Snowpolo-Spieler am Pferd

In 2022 already for the 19th time with us in Kitzbühel

It started in 2003 with four teams and around 500 spectators, many years later there are over 110 horses and 24 players from over 11 nations and over 15,000 spectators. Of course, the weather is always the biggest challenge. As soon as the first snow falls the appropriate preparations are started. Every year several individual layers of snow and water are built up, these must withstand all weather caprices. For the men from Bauhof Kitzbühel Tourism every year a new challenge.

Snow Polo Spieler am Pferd

And how does it look now such a polo field?

The normal playing field in snow polo is about 274 meters by about 183 meters. The boundary of a normal playing field consists on the long sides of the 30 cm high, usually wooden boards, are called "boards". On the short sides, the goal sides, there are marked lines. As a game marker, the field is divided with a total of seven mental lines. Each goal consists of two conical goal posts "pylons" about 3 m high and is about 7.20 m wide. The posts are not firmly anchored in the ground, but yield. If a rider bumps into them with his horse in the heat of battle, they can even fall over. Two goal judges are placed centrally behind the goals and indicate with a waved flag whether the ball went into the goal or missed. Flag above means "goal", flag below means "outside the goal and playing field". Quite simple, actually.

Snowpolo Spiel im Schnee

Grooms help change horses

A lot of polo staff is needed around the tournaments, e.g. taking the minutes, taking the time, ringing the bell, operating the result scoreboard and putting back the boundary boards that have been ridden over. There is a lot to do at the polo field. 

Taking care of the polo horses are the grooms, these are called "grooms". They are important and ensure that the horses are changed quickly during the matches. Prepare the horses during breaks in the game and also feed the animals after the tournament.  A great task for every horse lover, as we were able to experience.

Snowpolo Spieler auf Pferden

A snow polo match is divided into "chukkas"

The game is divided into several time periods called "chukker" or "chukka". Each period lasts 7 minutes, but can be extended by 30 seconds after the bell sounds. Only if the ball is in play and not out. A game can be between four and eight periods long. After each goal scored, all players, arranged by playing position, line up again in the center of the field for the "line up" and the following "throw in". The direction of play changes after each goal in order to compensate for one-sided advantages, e.g. due to the position of the sun or possible terrain gradients. A "throw in" of the ball occurs at the beginning of each period, where the previous period ended.

The horses have to rest after a chukka

The protection of horses is the main maxim of the rules. Thus, a horse may not be used in two consecutive periods of "chukkas". Any possible endangerment of an animal will result in the immediate interruption of the game. If a player falls, but in the referee's opinion it was not a serious fall, the game simply continues.

This rule enforces that a player must always arrive with at least two horses per tournament. Each polo player has a personal handicap, depending on his performance, which starts at -2 and can go up to +10. The best polo players in the world mostly come from Argentina. Currently all with the handicap +10. The sum of the four individual handicaps forms the total handicap of a team.

What do polo players wear or what is their basic equipment?

Every player has to wear the prescribed polo helmet. This is wider than the classic helmet for riding, but this has purely aesthetic reasons, because the polo helmet has its roots in colonial times. A polo shirt is worn, or in winter a warm polo sweater. Until the second half of the 20th century, classic white breeches were worn, nowadays you only see white jeans. Either normal casual fashion or special variants without inseam. Thickly padded leather knee pads are worn against the knee knocks. Players also wear special gloves with reinforced backs, as protection against the blows.

The polo mallet is always held on the right, even by left-handed players. The bat consists of a wooden hitting surface. The loop, which is placed around the thumb and then passed over the back of the hand, prevents the player from losing his bat if he lets go of it. The length of the bat varies depending on the size of the player and his horse. The polo balls for snow polo are about 20 cm in size and usually red, are made of air-filled hard rubber, so they are lighter so as not to sink in the snow.

Especially popular: polo ponies from Argentina

Even though the rules allow polo to be played on any horse, specially bred polo ponies are mostly used, most of which come from Argentina. The pole size of polo ponies is about 1.50 meters. For the most part, mares are used.

The safety of the horses is very important

The seat of a polo saddle is often made of suede leather. Traditional saddles have a long leather strap instead of the girth buckles. In addition, saddles in polo have their own safety strap for double protection. Which goes over the saddle in case the saddle loosens or even comes loose during play. As with other equestrian sports, bandages, gaiters, jumping bells and other aids are used to protect the horses. Since the polo mallet would get caught in the horse's tail during a long lunge "full swing", the tail is nowadays bandaged "taped". The manes are shorn for a similar reason, so that the long hair does not interfere with the reins and the view of the ball.

Now the games can begin! We wish a successful and accident-free Snow Polo tournament.  

Info: The article was already published in 2016 and will be updated annually for each Snow Polo event.

Contact

The Kitzbühel Tourism team is at your disposal at any time!

TELEPHONE
0043 5356 66660


E-MAIL
info@kitzbuehel.com


ON SITE
Hinterstadt 18 | 6370 Kitzbühel 


Press contact

Anna Lena Obermoser
0043 5356 66660 16
​​​​​​​a.obermoser@kitzbuehel.com

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Contact

The Kitzbühel Tourism team is at your disposal at any time!

TELEPHONE
0043 5356 66660


E-MAIL
info@kitzbuehel.com


ON SITE
Hinterstadt 18 | 6370 Kitzbühel 


Press contact

Anna Lena Obermoser
0043 5356 66660 16
​​​​​​​a.obermoser@kitzbuehel.com