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Pond-skimmers get foolish at The Canyons

ANNA BLOOM, Of the Record staff

The Canyons Resort will give April’s fools a chance to dress silly and attempt to glide across the freezing cold water of a shallow pond noon on Saturday for its 9th Annual Pond Skimming Contest and Reggae Fest.

A DJ will host the event beginning at 12 p.m., and after the contest’s conclusion at 3 p.m., the New York City-based reggae band Rising Lion will take the stage.

The Canyons spokeswoman Katie Eldridge calls the event the resort’s "biggest event-slash-party" of the year.

"No matter the weather, hundreds of people come out and have a great time and it’s always a good laugh if you don’t have a pass, you can just buy a gondola pass and come up and watch it. It’s worth it," she said.

According to The Canyons Event Manager Dave March, anyone who makes it across the pond, wins a day ticket to the resort for next year. Prizes such as Rossignol skis, LL Bean clothing and snowboard bindings will be awarded to best overall male, best overall female, best costume and best splash and crash. Five judges, appointed by the resort, will choose the winners.

Contestants, who must be a minimum of 10 years of age, have one chance and one chance only to attempt to cross the water, he says.

"The secret to getting across is to go in as flat as you can with no sudden movements," he explained. "But some people just spray the crowd, do a trick, fall and get wet."

While some pond-skimming contestants see the competition’s object as gaining enough momentum to skim the 100-feet-long, three-feet-deep pond, veteran skimmer Matt Mravetz focuses on his costume. This will be his seventh year making the run down the mid-mountain course. In previous years, he has dressed as everything from a chicken-wired Godzilla to General Lee from Dukes of Hazard, to President George W. Bush to Evil Knieval.

According to Mravetz, the crowd throws snowballs if pond skimming participants don’t make it across, and he’s had his fair share. For him, a successful traverse isn’t the point.

Last year, he won the award for best costume as Pedro, a character from the film Napoleon Dynamite. For effect, instead of using skis, he decorated a borrowed a ski bike from a friend’s garage with a Mexican flag and tin foil shocks. He rode the bike straight into the water, he says.

"I crashed pretty good," he recalls," but I won best overall costume I don’t really do it for the awards. For me it’s just to entertain the crowd."

Mravetz says he begins strategizing the next year’s costume as soon as the contest is over. He keeps his options open and then he starts getting serious about the concept in February and start working on the costume a week prior to competing.

He makes most of his costumes by hand.

"That’s part of the fun to make it homemade and put some thought into it," he says.

Each year, a friend volunteers to act as Mravetz’s "personal assistant," ready and waiting at the end of the contest with a fresh change of clothes. Most costumes he makes, don’t survive the water, he confesses, and the water in the pond chills to the bone.

"The water is cold. It’s like 40 degrees or something but that’s missing the point," he says. "It’s clever silliness and it’s really all about having a good time."

As for this year’s costume, Mravetz demurs. People will just have to go to the event to find out, he says. He will say, however, that he expects to be hit with quite a few snowballs.

Eldridge recommends an early arrival for those interested in skimming. The Canyons limits the number of competitors in their Pond Skimming event to 85 contenders, and costumes for skimmers are mandatory, she says. Participation is free.


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