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'Fairytale' Final in St. Moritz

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2nd Oct 2008

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Team Brioni hoist the Cartier trophy
St. Moritz hosts the 23rd Cartier World Cup on Snow

The Cartier folks may have called it a fairytale, but the 23rd Cartier World Cup on Snow ended this year in a sudden death golden goal as Team Brioni came from behind to capture the 2007 trophy from incumbent Team Cartier, making it more of a nail-biting drama for fans perched on a frozen lake high in the Alps.

Nearly 10,000 guests descended on St. Moritz for three days of polo action, and Hub Culture was there with a series of informal activities over the weekend. Even the sun made an appearance for the final day of competition after four days of much needed snow. "Thanks be to God". (In the words of Brioni's Antonella De Simone, as much for the snow as the signature win of her new team.)

The tournament, (which has been held every year since 1985), had a near death experience of its own last week, as warm weather and rains in St. Moritz threatened the security of hosting thousands of tonnes of equipment, people and temporary structures on the frozen lake. Cooler temperatures prevailed, and everything was just fine for the competition play over the tournament weekend.

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Cartier Cup: a sexy challenge in the snow glitter of St. Moritz
Four presenting teams, Cartier, Brioni, Bank Julius Baer and Maybach, duked it out for the final competition slots, and newcomer Brioni beat Bank Julius Baer to meet Cartier for the final match on Sunday. Brioni was a crowd favorite despite its new position, which probably had nothing to do with the fact that Guy Schwarzenbach had a key role on the team - he is son of popular club President Urs E. Schwarzenbach - a local son, and the lowest handicap on the team, at 1. Star of the Brioni team was Argentina's Eduardo Novillo Astrada, with a 9 handicap, who plowed his way through the final and scored a stunning run down the line to score the winning goal. The 4-3 final meant the trophy went to Brioni and the MVP award to Astrada. This after getting hit in the chest by a horse head in a strangely Godfather-esque portrayal by race announcers.

Off the field, the people-watching at this event continues to surprise and engage even the most jaded of society, partly because the growing trend seems to be dog watching, in which people evaluate the pedigree and bearing of the many pooches making the rounds with their fur-clad owners. In some ways the dog watching actually exceeds the people watching, but the sophisticated air, bronzed cheeks, furry moonboots and ice on display do lend a subtle trace of gestalt to the affair.

In general St. Moritz seems to be kicking with the birth of another trend: elderly clubbing. It's one thing to be in the Badrutts Palace's famous King's Club at 3am watching a bunch of suits getting down, quite another to be surrounded by women in their late 60s, faces pulled taut, with silver studded belts, skintight jeans, and a haltertop as they put their hands up for Detroit. (They love that city?)

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Adult beverage of choice chilled authentically in Swiss snow
This new breed of society maven seems to be in strong supply these days, probably unimaginable even five years ago. Must be the vitamins.

Either way, it does provide an interesting counterpoint to the otherwise rocking location. Will we all be clubbing when we are 70, with augmented hips and power kicks, a can of Red Bull at our side? If its already happening with the doyennes of St. Moritz, one can be sure it will catch on elsewhere eventually.

Maybe that's the new fairytale ending, or nightmare, depending on your point of view. Either way, and whatever your age, do mark your calendars to join Hub Culture for more fun next year at the 24th Cartier World Cup on Snow, 24-27 January, 2008.