Ylvisaker Cup final at Palm Beach
The name and colours of the Swiss luxury watchmaker Piaget dominated the day at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) on Sunday, February 26th, as the Piaget team triumphed in one of America’s top high-goal tournaments, the Ylvisaker Cup. Named after the late William T. “Bill” Ylvisaker whose Palm Beach Polo & Country Club (PBPCC) was the centre of high-goal polo in the US in the 1970s and 1980s, the prestigious tournament echoed the early days of Piaget’s involvement with the “sport of kings” more than 30 years ago. Palm Beach was one of the first venues where the Swiss firm introduced its iconic Piaget Polo luxury watch in 1979. Since then, Piaget has become one of the sport’s most prominent supporters across the globe, sponsoring top events and teams in the US, England, Argentina and China.
The final of the 2012 Ylvisaker Cup was played on IPC’s premier polo ground, the Piaget Championship Field, before a sell-out crowd of polo enthusiasts from Wellington and Palm Beach. The match also made history, as it was the first time that a husband and wife played against each other in a high goal tournament in Palm Beach. Melissa Ganzi championed the Piaget team, while her husband led the Audi team. The 20-goal Ylvisaker Cup contest saw a record 16 teams competing for the trophy. By chance Piaget and Audi were drawn in the same league. Piaget won all their matches except for their single league encounter with Audi which Piaget lost by a single goal.
The Ylvisaker final was a see-saw battle of giants with the lead repeatedly changing and the game tied up time and time again. Piaget led 3-2 at the end of the first chukka. The second period saw the two teams equal at 4-4. The first half ended with Audi leading Piaget 7-6. Piaget took control in the fourth chukka to end the period 9-7. Piaget kept the lead in the fifth staying 10-9 ahead. The sixth and final period was a real cliff-hanger. First Audi tied the game up at 10-10. Piaget then retook the lead with a penalty conversion. Audi equalised before Piaget scored again to make it 12-11. With less than two minutes to play, Audi tied it up and it appeared the game might go into overtime. Then, with less than a minute to play, Audi fouled and Piaget’s Miguel Novillo Astrada converted to give Piaget their 13-12 victory and the coveted Ylvisaker Cup.
The Argentine pro Astrada was Piaget’s top scorer with seven goals. American Nic Roldan was top man for Audi with nine goals to his credit. Piaget’s 6-goal American pro Jason Crowder took double honours. He was named Most Valuable Player and his nine-year-old mare Ruby took the Best Playing Pony prize.
The USPA Piaget Gold Cup, one of only three 26-goal tournaments in the country, starts on March 7th with the final on March 25th. A Piaget team will again be in contention, this time with Marc Ganzi as patron while his wife Melissa takes over the Audi side.