Gas shortage changing travel plans for polo fans in Aiken

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News 12 @ 11 o'clock -- September 29, 2008

AIKEN, SC-- It's an international sport that many travel all over the world to see, but with the problem at the pump; polo may have met it's match.

"Last year we had 17 teams in the Aiken Ladies Invitational in three flights. This year the prices of fuel affected a lot of travel for the ladies and we only had 12 teams," said Karen Reese of the Aiken Women's Polo Club.

Karen Reese rides for the Aiken women's league and she says the gas has been one of the only issues for riders. But the riders aren't the only ones dealing with this problem.

"The travel to Aiken? It was a nightmare," said Jim Huber of Wisconsin.

Jim Huber drove all the way from Wisconsin to Aiken to see the tournament and the lack of gas along the way got so bad he had to call 911.

"We didn't know at that point they were out of diesel. It's one thing to have high prices, it's another to be out with a load of horses in the middle of the night," said Jim Huber.

Robert Upshur just didn't drive at all.

"I came Amtrak because I can't afford to drive because of the price of gas. I can't afford to drive down here," said Robert Upshur of Pennsylvania.

But through all of the panic and problems, the tournament still had a good turnout.

"People had already committed to being here before the gas became an issue, so they're here. It just makes it a little more complicated, difficult to organize your day when you're having to spend it searching for fuel," said Barb Uskup.

And for lovers of the sport like Karen; that search won't stop them from going wherever the ball may go.

The USPA Monty Waterbury tournament wraps up with the final round on October 5th. Officials at the club say they still expect to have a good size turnout for the rest of the tournament, despite the gas shortage.

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