Words: Colin Field
There are a lot of great ski traditions in the world; the shotski, the ski burn, the bra tree. They’re cornerstones of ski/snowboard culture. And along with this important heritage is the pond skim, something every diehard skier or snowboarder should have on their bucket list.
What is the pond skim? Simply put, it’s an event where skiers and snowboarders throw a final hurrah for the winter season by attempting to skim across a pool of water. While the history of the pond skim is hazy, places like Idaho’s Sun Valley have been hosting skims since the early ’70s.
And after nearly a decade of not hosting one, Blue Mountain brought it back with the Meltdown Retro Pond Skim in 2014. Heading into the third event this spring, we’d like to thank Blue for bringing it back. They did so just in time too; in May, Banff–Lake Louise–Sunshine is hosting the first pond-skimming World Cup. So consider the Meltdown your, ahem, warm-up for the big leagues. Here are a few tips to guarantee success.
Keep your tips up: A no-brainer to anyone with the slightest amount of ski skills. Just like when you’re getting off the chairlift, keeping your tips up is imperative for success. Better to be in the backseat and look like a kook, than to take a dunk and look even kookier.
Fatten up: If you’re a 76-pound 11-year-old, sorry to say, your mission is near impossible. There’s a strong likelihood you’re gonna get wet. Really wet. You simply can’t get the speed to plane up. Perhaps training for you should include chips and soda for breakfast? Daily? Tell your parents we said it was okay. You’re an athlete. You’re “bulking up.” Don’t forget a pizza slice before bed. And a chocolate bar. This is gonna take work. The real question is, Are you committed enough?
Speed is your friend: As in many sport-related scenarios, speed is your friend (until it isn’t). The best way to ensure you get across the pond is by going balls-out fast. When it’s your turn, skate off the start line (sorry snowboarders, you’re screwed), then tuck, tuck and tuck some more. The moment of truth is that fraction of a second when you’re in the air between snow and water; remember, tips up!
Skim or swim: There are two options for the pond skim. Make it or don’t. And while not making it is going to result in a seriously soggy ski boot, you’ll get a better reaction out of the crowd. Whether they’re laughing at you or with you is debatable.
Have fun: Obviously, even if you get completely dunked, you’re still cooler than all those on the sidelines. At least you tried. Now run to the closest hot tub and jump in boots and all.
Dress appropriately: It’s a tough day to dress for. It’s hopefully gonna be sunny and warm. And you’ll hopefully stay dry. So what’s the best fabric for the day? Is it Gore-Tex? Neoprene? A wetsuit? A drysuit? Our best advice: a mid-‘80s Ditrani one-piece will have all the performance qualities you’ll need for the day.
Looking to throw your hat in the ring? Try the Spring Meltdown Pond Skim at Blue Mountain