Ready, set skim: The Canyons 10th Annual Pond Skimming Contest challenges the bold and the brave
A few days before to The Canyons Pond Skimming Contest, Tina Craddock feels the pressure — she hasn’t come up with a costume yet. This her first year, and, perhaps, the fear of hitting the ice-cold pond instead of the other side is foremost in her mind.
According to the resort’s calculations, only 10 percent have managed to glide across the 100-foot pond successfully in the past nine years the event has been held.
Craddock plans to wear fat skis to help her float across. Her friend Adrian Gray, has given her some advice, though, she says, "he said just go straight and lean back." Though last year in the midst of a blizzard, he buckled at the last second and steered clear of the icy pool altogether, he admits.
Ted Cobleigh, who plans to don a costume he calls "Justin Timberlakes," will wax his 215-centimeter skis for his sixth pond skimming attempt this weekend. He says each year he dusts the giant slalom downhill skis especially for the event for good luck. The first two years, the skis brought him two successful skims.
Cobleigh has transformed himself as "Jetpack Johnny Maverick," a postman, and a "Baby Ejector," an outfit that featured a baby backpack that ejected a plastic doll into the air. Last year, he wore a silver jacket made from a silver tarp and a silver funnel cap.
According to Cobleigh, success at skimming has a lot to do with snow conditions. "If the snow is skiing really fast, you have high hopes of making it. If it’s slushy or snowing, you pretty much know you’re going to chuck yourself into the water," he says.
Cobleigh hopes to end his three-year losing streak. Last year his tin man "rusted solid right in the middle of the pond."
Fortunately, competitors can rely on looks, too, and downright sloppy performances. Some might forgo the "skimming" challenge and hit a jump the resort builds at the foot of the pool for added effect.
At the 10th year of the annual spring event at The Canyons this Saturday, a panel of judges will determine "Best Costume," "Best Splash and Crash," "Best Overall Score, Men’s Open" and "Best Overall Score, Women’s Open." Five panelists — including Shaun Neff, founder of Neff Headwear, The Killers’ drummer Ronnie Vannucci, competitive telemark skier Josh Madsen, Fox 13’s reporter Hope Woodside, and The Canyons employee Stacey Davadil will determine the best based on costume, air, style, distance and crowd participation.
Despite the 2006 storm, nearly 3,000 trekked to the Red Pine Lodge for the event, according to The Canyons Event Manager Dave March.
This is the seventh year March has managed the contest that marks the "last hurrah for the season and kick-off for spring skiing."
He’s watched many contenders sink into the four-foot-deep pond, and he observes that usually it’s because they’ve leaned too much to one side. Successful skimmers on skis or a snowboard keep their speed and distribute their weight evenly, March says.
Then again, it’s just as well they miss their mark. Costumes are required, and for pond skimming, style seems to have made the most lasting impression.
Over the years, March has seen an Evel Knievel, and a Godzilla who stopped in the middle of the pond with outstretched hands. Last year, local singer and guitarist Tony Oros dressed as Jesus Christ and attempted to "walk on water." "You name it, we’ve seen it," March says.
Many costumes are apropos for their time presidents and vice presidents have been popular, as well as characters from movies like 2004’s Sundance Film Festival favorite Napoleon Dynamite.
The 2006 winner for best costume was a man dressed as a pioneer woman, March says. Part of his costume was a wagon he dragged behind him, with wheels that continued to spin in the water as he sank.
"I don’t know how pond skimming got started," admits March. "But for us it’s about the big final hurrah for the season-slash-kick-off for spring skiing. We want to keep it fun."
Winners will be announced on stage at 3 p.m. in the resort’s Forum before JJ Grey and Mofro take the stage. Winners in all categories will be awarded a variety of prizes from Rossignol skis and snowboards to jackets from L.L.Bean. Those who successfully skim the pond will receive a day pass to The Canyons for next season.
Registration for The Canyons Pond Skimming Contest is from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Smokie’s Bar and Grill. Participants must be at least 10 years old. The price is $20 for entry and does not include a ski pass. Those wishing to watch the contest, but will not be skiing or riding can purchase a $12 Gondola ticket. The event takes place in the Red Pine Area and begins at noon. Costumes are mandatory.
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