by susan redstone | December 15, 2011 | People
By sheer coincidence, I’m assigned to interview Nic Roldan on a day we’re both bound for Chicago. We’ve met before, twice actually, at Snow Polo, but I am unprepared for such a huge hug and warm welcome. “What are the chances?” he says, beaming. “We’re in the same place at the same time!”
We order breakfast in the Pump Room at the new Public Chicago. It’s a sexy place, like all Schrager hotels, and it makes sense that Roldan stays here. His polo career is as focused as a Schrager hotel concept. At age 29, with a handicap of eight goals, he’s one of the highest ranked American players. He was also the youngest player ever to win the US Open at just 15.
Born in Argentina and raised in Wellington, Florida, he still lives down the road from his parents, and they’re very close. He’s working a preppy image: J.Crew shirt and AllSaints Spitalfields jeans. He was previously signed by Wilhelmina for modeling gigs and is an ambassador for the Piaget brand (and grateful to friend Nacho Figueras, sixgoal model, for blazing the trail with Ralph Lauren). A leather bracelet made by his polo pro father, Raul, is worn next to his Piaget watch. But just when you settle into thinking he’s mainstream, he orders green tea with his eggs and his maverick streak lets on about his five tattoos. What’s more, he reveals he’s actually a lefty, rare in polo, where you must play right-handed. “My dad was thrilled I could hit the ball,” he says, on taking instantly to his foot mallet as a kid. Then there was an ‘oh-my- God’ moment when he noticed I’d switched the mallet to my left hand! After that, he taped it to my right. Eventually I got it.”
Before his first USPA World Snow Polo Championship in 2009, Roldan had barely seen snow and had never experienced the cold. “Snow Polo is such a fun event, he says. “I love the ambience in Aspen and I love the skiing. Polo’s totally different on snow.” How so? “It’s a close-in game, more sticky, three on a side with a big red ball!” Different tactics? “No, but I sometimes use a firmer mallet. And it’s great because spectators are really involved when they can see the game slower, on a smaller field.” Of course he took to skiing like a natural. “I like Highlands best,” he says, speaking like a local. “I have no fear. I’ll go down anything; it’s a bit stupid.”
I ask if he is a playboy. “Ah, women, my forte!” he says with sarcasm. He had a recent fling with reality TV’s Audrina Patridge, and this past April, Eva Longoria won a charity bid for a kiss and lesson package. “I’m not that good at relationships,” he selfdeprecatingly admits. And sorry, pretty polo grooms, he swears he’ll never date a woman in polo. “I don’t want someone who’s in the same thing.” There’s currently someone special from LA. Luckily, he doesn’t mind flying. He’d like a relationship to emulate his parents’ one day. “They still walk hand in hand,” he says.
For now, equine fillies command his full attention. His current favorite? A purchase from world number one Adolfo Cambiaso. “She’s a pretty chestnut with a white blaze,” he says proudly. “I spent close to $400,000 on horses this year. Some people invest in stocks, I invest in horses that will make me grow.” Roldan’s eye is on the end game. “I want to be the best player I can possibly be and propel the sport forward. For me polo is number one.”
photography by getty images