Note: I apologize to my friends and acquaintances, who read the blog regularly, for my absence the last several days. My laptop computer completely crashed, and fried the motherboard. It’s still at the computer repair as I type, and I am borrowing one to write this post.
As we walked down the steps into the village, a roar went up from the crowd. Music was pumping as people gathered, staring up at the slope, looking intently for something or someone. Glancing towards the ribbons of white ski trails filtering down to the bottom, I spotted an arch. As we kept walking, I spied something slithering down around the fence, then shooting through the arch down to the bottom. SPLASH! Water spewed up in the middle of where the crowd had gathered. This could mean only one thing. Closing weekend at winter park meant pond skimming was in full form.
When the sun stays higher in the sky, and the temperatures start to rise up into the 50s, snow conditions aren’t optimal. It’s like skiing through a giant snow cone. It’s not exactly what people envision when they think of skiing the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. So as ski seasons start to come to close, if you want to get people to still come to the resort to spend their hard earned money, you have to get creative, and maybe a little bit crazy.
Since I worked in the ski resort industry in the 1990s, pond skimming has been a staple. I’ve seen all versions of it wacky costumes, wonky tricks like back flips and helicopter spins. The basic idea is to cruise down the slope with enough speed that when you hit the water, you’ll basically water ski across the trough full of water to the other side.
In prior seasons, while there was lots of panache in the costume department, I hadn’t seen too many successful participants. Yesterday, after watching for awhile, I deduced that you have to be a pretty gutsy, balls to the wall kind of person to succeed. But succeed many did. Racer types, ski patrol types, who barreled down the course as fast as possible and zipped over the water, like a Great Blue Heron landing in a pond.
But for the two or three who were successful, there were many more who made a big splash in more ways than one. And once you fall, another problem is created. Skis inevitably seemed to pop off, leaving the failed skimmer to fish around in the pond for several minutes, trying to find their skis. And then the walk or crawl of shame to pull you sopping wet self out of the pond.
One of the more interesting skiers wasn’t a skier at all, but a giant dinosaur. Nothing like staring up the hill to see what looks like T-Rex making a turn, his giant swatch of tail swooshing behind him, his large fanged head bobbing up and down. Lumbering away, while snowplowing the home stretch, he hit the water, and the monster sank instantly to the bottom. Though he was unsuccessful, he certainly got style point and a great round of applause from the onlookers.
I have to admit, I admire everyone and anyone who took part, no matter the outcome. It takes a lot of guts and a certain confidence to put yourself out there with hundreds of people looking on — laughing, clapping — knowing you’ll probably make a giant fool of yourself. And it made what was not the greatest day of skiing full of fun anyway.