The crack of a mallet. The dull thud of two horses colliding. Sub-zero winds whipping past my face at unholy speeds. And just like that, I became a full-fledged fan of snow polo.
In case you’re wondering, yes, snow polo is exactly what it sounds like: the equestrian ball sport beloved by royalty the world over, except played in frostier conditions. The game was originally devised in St. Moritz, Switzerland in 1986 — which still hosts the world’s largest annual tournament, attracting over 15,000 spectators annually — and has since spread to the snowbound likes of Aspen, Colorado, Cortina, Italy and Tianjin, China.
On a chilly weekend in late February, I bore witness to the newest addition to the snow polo family: the second annual Canadian Snow Polo tournament in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec.
Why was I there in the first place? To celebrate the launch of Ralph Lauren Fragrances’ newest cologne, Polo Blue Eau du Parfum — a textured fragrance of spicy, floral and woody notes that combines bergamot, cardamom and marine accord. And what better way to introduce it than a weekend-long event featuring the scent’s namesake sport?
Four squads of world-class riders — including Ralph Lauren’s own Polo Blue team — were on hand to battle for the title atop a field covered in freshly fallen, deceptively slippery snow. Before the first match began, I’d imagined I was in for a mild-mannered afternoon of trotting horses and a few British accent-tinged “No, after you”s.
Instead, the game turned out to be far more fast-paced, exhilarating and downright brutal than I could’ve possibly imagined. Snow polo, it turns out, is so physically exhausting that the equestrian athletes need to switch horses every seven minutes on the dot. One horse in particular needed to be swapped out immediately after a jaw-dropping fall on the slippery terrain.
The thrilling final match between the Polo Blue team and Holt Renfrew Ogilvy concluded late on Saturday night in the face of heavy snowfall. Barely perceptible through the whiteout, the game ended in a tie and — true to the sport’s gentlemanly reputation — the two captains agreed to share the title.
After the game, the event culminated with a blue-tinged party hosted by Ralph Lauren Fragrances, featuring cocktails infused with a selection of Polo Blue Eau du Parfum’s natural ingredients. It was a fitting end to a brilliant weekend of snow, sport and scent.