It has always been an exciting question in the run-up of the Polo World Cup on Snow whether the lake of St. Moritz will freeze or whether it won't freeze. Year after year Petrus had mercy upon the St. Moritz Polo Club that organises the whole event and let the surface of the lake be strong enough to carry 2200 tons easily.
In the first year of the new millennium nature obviously goes crazy: In November and December everything looked fine, although the temperatures were above the season's average, the ice on the lake was 20-25 cm thick. But in the first week of 2001 the situation turned catastrophic due to unusual high temperatures and heavy rain. The lake got covered with 20 cm of rainwater and afterwards with 50 cm of snow!
Under this warm cover the ice melt and was only 17 cm thick. And the worst thing was that the ice was covered with a lot of water.
9th January would have been the starting date for the construction of the enormous infrastructure with for instance over 3000 m2 of tent surface. The Polo Club St. Moritz decided that day to test the load of the lake. They provided a snow cat with floats and it effectively burst the ice!
The about 50 construction workers are now waiting for 16th January, the deadline to be able to guarantee that everything will be set by the beginning of the tournament. Talking about the
difficulties of the construction two key facts should be mentioned:
Only 6 tons of material can be put on the lake per hour and the meteorological characteristics 1800 meters above the sea put a limit on the physical power of the workers. Either the temperatures are too high and the surface of the ice gets astable and difficult to walk on or it is very cold (beneath -20°) and the workers very soon have a loss of power because of the cold.
The days and first of all the nights till the deadline of 15th January will show whether the 440'000 m2 big lake St. Moritz will reach the needed 40 cm of ice or not.
A marvellous alternative to the lake of St. Moritz is being prepared
While Petrus hopefully provides St. Moritz with the coldest weather he has in store the St. Moritz Polo Club is trying hard to find an equal alternative to the lake. In cooperation with the commune of St. Moritz the organisation committee of the 17th Polo World Cup on Snow prepared the Polo field on the way out of St. Moritz-Bad in direction Champfer. The infrastructure would remain the same.
The world class event would loose through this relocation the nobel scenery of St. Moritz but would gain the scenery of the romantic snowy forrest that surrounds the Polo field San Gian that is a real vision.