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A splash to end the ski-son

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Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 12:35 am

Puddles are a common occurrence on ski slopes in April, but many resorts in the nation have adopted a “bigger is better” mentality.

On Saturday Whitefish Mountain Resort (still affectionately called “Big Mountain” by loyal locals) held its annual pond skim/costume contest. Skiers and snowboarders dressed in elaborate costumes braved the wildly varying weather conditions for a chance to get even colder and wetter.

An eight-foot tall human “panty tree” flew toward the pond until wind resistance caused him to fall over before making contact with the water. It made a noise, and there were plenty of people around to hear it. A bald, Tommy-Bahama-wearing Hunter Thompson was too drunk (or too in character) to make it down the slope, sliding face-first off the five-foot drop into the pond. Staff members were on hand to fish out contestants who, in this case, were unaware they made it to the pond, or whose costumes were too elaborate to swim in.

The weather conditions went from sunny, to rainy, to sleet, to snow in the course of an hour, but contestants continued to plunge into the water for a chance at ... fame? Fortune at the very least, as the last round involved a chance at grabbing any one of 10 hundred dollar bills hung from a rope nearly twenty feet above the surface of the water. A skiing “Woody” (from Toy Story) managed to take down the rope and claim a $1,000 cash prize.

Riley Polumbus, the public relations manager for Whitefish Resort, knows that contestants face certain risks jumping into ice-cold water in mid-April, but says that the biggest issues may not necessarily be hypothermia.

“Certainly ego and embarrassment can be a part of this,” Polumbus said. “The weather can cause a little bit of cold, especially if you do end up going into the pond. So it’s a really good thing if you’re a competitor to bring extra clothes and have something warm to wrap yourself up in after you get wet.”  

Sunday was Big Mountain’s last day of the season, and most resorts either closed on Sunday or Tuesday. But a few stragglers are keeping their lifts open for at least one more weekend. Lookout Pass closes on Saturday while Big Sky and Moonlight Basin will be open until Sunday, all featuring similar end-of-the-year events to celebrate.

Kipp Proctor, the media relations and community manager at Big Sky Resort, said the massive resort has been receiving consistent snow through April, and there is still plenty to go around for the warm-weather skiing enthusiast.

This Saturday, Big Sky will be hosting a pond skim of their own, with 50 spots still open for registration. But expect something out-of-the-ordinary, as previous years have featured ponds shaped like Tetris pieces, jumps with landings in the middle of the water, and two-tier ponds. Moonlight Basin will be celebrating with its annual Huck-A-Berry freestyle competition/rail jam on Sunday, promising steeze for those who might be a bit too cool to throw on a tutu and plunge into icy water.

National Oceanic Atomspheric Admistration predictions for next season are still up in the air (pun intended), with equal chances for normal, above or below average snowfall in the Pacific Northwest. But keep in mind, just because the resorts aren’t open, doesn’t mean the backcountry is closed.


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