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December 22, 2009updated Feb 07, 2013

Taittinger Alpine Polo Challenge Set For Sweden

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

ÅRE, Sweden — During the first week of March, eight international polo teams representing countries on four continents will be converging on beautiful Åre, Sweden for five days of thrilling, high energy snow polo competition, played on frozen Lake Åresjön, at the foot of the village, 372 meters (1,269 ft.) above sea level.

Sweden is a serious horse riding country with it being the nation’s second most participated in sporting activity. But polo is still in its infancy with only two teams. But it does have a public that is completely raptured by the sport. This was in evidence this past August when an audience of 4,000 VIP’s turned out for the Jaeger-LeCoultre Stockholm Polo International Invitational. Pretty amazing in a country with a total population the size of New York City.

In 2010, this largest ski resort in Northern Europe, is celebrating its 100th anniversary as a resort community (when its funicular railway up the mountain first started running) and are
commemorating the centennial by inaugurating the country’s first ever annual snow polo tournament, the Taittinger Alpine Polo World Championship.

Similar to St. Moritz, the polo field is on a frozen lake, just off shore which makes it very accessible to all those in Åre that week. The “small city” is actually one of the largest ski resorts in all of Europe with 31,000 guest beds and over 9,000 restaurant seats.

Teams from Argentina, Austria – Kitzbühel, U.A.E. – Dubai. England, Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland – St. Moritz and the United States – Aspen will participate.

With the eight teams competing, there are going to be five days of polo played, each afternoon after the ski lifts close on a lighted field in front of what is expected to be an audience at least as large as that attending a month before in St. Moritz.

The week of the Taittinger Alpine Polo World Championship will commence on Sunday evening with an invitation only welcoming dinner to greet the polo player and will conclude with a gala awards and fundraising dinner on Friday night after the finals.

Each polo team will consist of three players with a combined average handicap of nine goals.

Among the players expected are Henry Brett from England, a 6-goaler; 5-goaler Tatu Gomez Romero playing for Russia; Aki Van Andel, a 4-goaler from Holland; Sebastian Amaya playing for
Argentina, a 4-goaler; Doug Barnes, the winner in Aspen last year, who is a 4-goaler.

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With an avid horse enthusiast crowd, the player will be offering “introductory” polo lessons to any who are interested. The “fee” for a lesson will be a donation to Thomas Fogdö’s Active Life
Foundation. A not-for-profit organization working with injured athletes and assists them through recovery and back to competition. (Founded by Tomas Fogdö, a Swedish championship skier who broke his back in a training accident in Åre): It will also be the beneficiary
of the proceeds from Friday’s dinner.

In a location perfect for elite travelers, easy-to-reach Åre (which was host in 2007 for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championship), not only the audience will be enjoying the special excitement that week, but the players themselves will be treated to some very thrilling winter adventures, some which are unique to Åre!

These will include, of course, great downhill and cross country skiing, but also snowmobiling, dog sledding, paragliding,
and the most heart-stopping excitement of all: ice driving on a 10km course on the frozen lake in high-performance sports cars! In the evenings it will be Taittinger Champagne dinners and then off to dance the night away to the pulsating of one of the many nightclubs (the largest of which accommodates a big-city-size party crowd of 1,300 revelers).

“Player Centrale” will be the 2 year old, design-award winning Copper Hill Mountain Lodge which at overlooks the lake and the valley. Several members of the title
sponsor, Taittinger family are also expected to attend as will plenty of other international cognoscenti and glitterati.

Access by private jet is at either Åre-Östersund or Trondheim/Værnes and helicopter transfers (15 minutes) can be arranged.

Special packages to the Taittinger Alpine World Championship, including travel, lodging and ski- pass, as well as additional update info on players, sponsors and activities can be found on the web site:

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