Nacho Figueras at the World Snow Polo Championship
Congratulations to everyone involved with the success of the St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship, which took place Dec. 17 – 19 in Aspen.
A little information about the sport: Snow polo is played on a snow-packed arena with teams made up of three players, as in standard polo. Play consists of four seven-minute chukkers, and the ponies in this version are shod with special cleated shoes that provide better traction. The area is also surrounded by fencing to keep the ball in play. The 2015 team lineup featured Flexjet, St. Regis, Chukker TV, U.S. Polo Assn., One Sandy Lane, and Audi.
Argentine polo player Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Figueras led as captain of the St. Regis team. He has become one of the most recognized polo players in the world and is known for his work with Ralph Lauren as the model for their Black Watch clothing and watch collection since 2000, as well as the Polo fragrances. Figueras is currently the captain and co-owner of the Black Watch polo team.
During a break in the championship, I had the opportunity to speak with Figueras via telephone from the Aspen Valley Polo Club. The following is our exchange:
Where does your love of the game come from and where did you start?
Well, I grew up in Argentina playing polo there. I started playing when I was nine years old, so I, you know, I learned to play and love it as a very young kid just having fun with my friends.
You certainly developed into quite a player. Tell me… what, if anything, has changed within the sport in the last few years?
I think and know that in the past few years more people are getting more curious about polo and starting to have a love of polo. More people find out that it’s a fun thing to do when they get the chance to play and even to just watch. I really feel that there’s a lot more interaction between polo and the spectators, which is great.
It has become very popular. What do you suggest to bring more attention to the sport?
I think that games like this one, the St. Regis World Polo Championship, and others that I do in New York and LA, are more spectator-driven than anything else, which helps a lot. And people are really responding and reacting to it.
How many polo ponies do you own and breed?
I have over 500 horses.
500 horses, that’s pretty amazing! Is your son also involved?
Yes, my son loves it. He plays a lot. He’s now 15 and loves polo. My daughter, she’s 11, is starting to play and my six-year-old son, Artemio, also plays polo. So, you know, it’s a family thing for us. We really like it.
How do you like playing in the snow as opposed to the actual field?
It’s different. In the field it’s more open, it’s more fun, but the snow is also fun. I think it’s great for spectators because they get to be really close to the action and so I think that snow polo is a great spectator sport. People have a lot of fun watching.
What are your plans for the coming year?
Next year I’m going back to Argentina, then I’m going to be in Palm Springs in the winter. Then, I head to Santa Barbara then southern France and then I’ll probably come and play a little bit of polo here in Aspen maybe for a few weekends. I have to go to Dubai and Brazil, too, so I’ve got a pretty busy schedule in the next few months. Also, another great thing that I’m working on, and that I just finished producing and making, are polo books. These are romance novels where polo is the main event. I think that will also allow more people to know about the game and get excited about it. The books are a trilogy called Polo Season and they will debut on May 31, but, you can preorder them on Amazon.
It was great to speak with a fellow polo enthusiast, especially someone like Figueras who has such an affinity for the sport and such a love for polo ponies. His polo horse breeding project and collection is called Cria Yatay.
VIDEO OF CRIA YATAY: https://vimeo.com/127185567
For more information on all things Nacho Figueras, visit his website: NachoFigueras.com
For more information on his new trilogy, Polo Season, take a look on Amazon.
Follow us all on Twitter: @nachofigueras @irenemichaels @ionthescene