Is it a rite of spring or a rite of passage?
But whatever it is, skiers and snowboarders, there is a right way to do it.
And to help us figure that out we turn to JD Hoss, “Fearless Leader” of Truckee Tahoe Radio (101.5 FM) and veteran competitor and judge of many a pond skim, including the notorious Cushing Crossing at Squaw Valley.
“Some people may say that maybe I take pond skimming too seriously,” Hoss says. “But it’s the only competition I know of where a common man can beat an Olympian. And I’ve done it.
“It’s a whole lot of fun. It’s what spring skiing’s all about.”
Tricks of the Trade …
“The No. 1 thing to remember is speed is your friend,” he says. “If you don’t go fast enough (on the in-run) you’re not gonna make it across the water. It’s all about inertia and friction.
“The second thing you need is the right right gear … and have confidence in your equipment. Some people go way wide (on skis) but those don’t allow you to have enough control on the in-run and you lose speed. I have a pair of skis in the garage that are 108mm underfoot with twin tips and reverse camber that I strictly use for pond skimming.
“Another important aspect is the costume, which for some people has everything to do with it (pond skimming). Make sure it is aerodynamic and make sure you can see (out) at all times. And you need to wear a helmet and a life vest.”
A life vest?
“I’ve done a lot of these things,” Hoss says, “and you’ve got eight to 10 feet of the nastiest stuff down there (at the bottom of the pond). Also, my din setting (on the bindings) is at 16 so (the skis) don’t come off.”
… And Where to Apply Them
So now that you are armed with JD’s tricks of the trade, here are some the best pond-skimming competitions around:
- The Caribou Cup at Mont Tremblant on April 6 not only has a pond skim but a competition for running across the pond on floating mattresses.
- The Slush Cup is one of the highlights of Alyeska’s Spring Carnival, which takes place for the 42 time on April 13.
- The Nor’Beaster is Killington’s annual spring fling, and a highlight is the pond skim that will be held on April 13.
- The 17th annual World Pond Skimming Championships on April 14 is the high point/culmination of the annual Spring Back to Vail event.
- The Big Sky Pond Skim, which will be held on April 20, generally attracts upwards of 5,000 spectators.
- Red Bull Slopesoakers at Copper Mountain on April 20 is a slopestyle event that finishes with a pond skim.
- The annual Pumphouse Spring Party at Jay Peak on April 20 kicks off with a pond skim.
- The Springfest Pond Skim at Stevens Pass on April 21 is preceded by a dummy downhill and a chuck-a-duck competition.
- The Cushing Crossing, one of the oldest such events around, will take place for the 29th time at Squaw Valley on May 4.
- The Slush Cup at Banff’s Sunshine Village is the grand-daddy of all pond skims and takes place for the 91st time on May 20.