The candid landscape of the Misurina lake (Auronzo di Cadore) surrounded by the Dolomites will host the Cortina Winter Polo Audi Gold Cup, scheduled as usual in late February: from Sunday 17 to Saturday 23. The tournament, which opens the Italian polo season, combines top-level sport and a rich program of social events held in the Polo Village, the headquarters of the event and the fashionable rendez-vous for the habitués of the pearl of the Dolomites. Two are the interesting food & beverage proposals: the Polo Bar, casual-chic meeting place with music, wines, and finger food in true local style and the Polo Restaurant with exquisite starred cuisine.
The appointment has been renewed for over twenty years, despite the many variables that may affect the organization of events of this kind: the thickness of the ice layer on Misurina Lake (minimum 40/50 cm), snowfalls, the swing of temperatures that can reach even 20 degrees below zero, the exceptional experience of setting up structures and facilities to accommodate public, players and horses at 1,800 meters, with the spectacular backdrop of Mount Sorapis and Tre Cime di Lavaredo. The preparation of the field is obviously essential for the success of the tournament. The low temperatures of the night help maintain the layer of ice on the lake, but also a compact layer of snow is key to create a surface which must be very elastic and absolutely not slippery. Playing polo on snow is certainly more difficult than on traditional grass fields. The polo pitch is slightly smaller and a bigger red ball is used. To play on the snow, ponies must have great balance and their hoofs have special shoeing with crampons.
The Cortina Winter Polo is a high level sport event that shares with St. Moritz the role of the leading events on snow in the world. In recent years, players and captains from many nationalities, in particular from Argentine, have participated. The tournament was founded in 1989, following the example of the similar event organized in St. Moritz already in ’85. The first location was identified on the frozen Lake of Landro, between Cortina and Dobbiaco, below the steep slopes of Mount Cristallo. Two years later, the decision to host the tournament on the Misurina lake. The year 2002 marked the beginning of a completely renovated cycle, named “Cortina Winter Polo Audi Gold Cup”. A new organization, new players, new sponsors, but always the same spirit that animates the tournament: exclusivity and high-level sport.