Pond Skimming, Wacky Costumes Mark Ski Resort End-of-Season Celebrations | Sports Destination Management

Pond Skimming, Wacky Costumes Mark Ski Resort End-of-Season Celebrations

Apr 26, 2024 | By: Judy Leand

Most folks in colder climes are thrilled that warm weather is imminent, and they are taking their upbeat attitudes and enthusiasm to the slopes one last time to bid adieu to the 2023-24 ski season at resorts across the U.S. In fact, some participants get more excited about the annual spring tradition of closing day parties than they do about opening day.


The spirited send-offs tend to be rowdy, zany, inventive and most of all, fun. Festivities often include skiers and boarders donning a variety of costumes—and shorts, bikini tops and even pajamas are in the mix. Once the lifts finally shut down for the season, there are the requisite après ski parties featuring libations, food, music and dancing.


At many resorts, pond skimming—wherein skiers and snowboarders try to gain enough downhill momentum to skim clear across a pond—is a favorite and highly anticipated closing day event. No pond? No problem. These days, most resorts make their own ponds with plastic sheeting and water about 3 feet deep.


In fact, pond skimming has become so popular that Skimag.com offered “Pro Tips to Nail Your Closing Day Pond Skim.” Among the suggestions: Speed is your friend; Don’t lean back, keep your weight centered and tips up; Wider skies (most skimmers say) help with float; Wear a costume; Have a blast!


A common misconception in pond skimming is that you need to be leaning back like on water skis,” Laurel Bartalon, who helps build and run Copper Mountain’s Slush Rush, told Skimag.com. In Slush Rush, teams of three compete in an on-slope relay race that wackily combines a halfpipe dotted with slalom gates, a skier/boarder cross course rife with features, and a rail jam ending with an icy pond skim. “Pond skimming is a quintessential spring experience. It’s a great way to close the season,” she said.


Cushing Crossing in Palisades, Calif., is also a hotly anticipated, one-and-done competition among the world’s most notorious pond skimming events, according to Skimag.com. “A squad of celebrity judges determines winners, and skimming takes place on a large snowmaking pond at the base of the mountain, which is so deep that a patroller posts up in the middle of the lake on a rescue raft. The approach consists of a long, narrow run with a curve near the end and a sizeable drop into the pond. This doesn’t discourage skiers and riders of all backgrounds and abilities from lining up during the wee hours of competition day in hopes of getting one of the 50 or so open spots.”


Meanwhile, “During the pond skim at Gunstock Mountain Resort in New Hampshire [in March], Dan Nutton made one of the most spectacular splashes of the day,” reported Arkansasonline.com. “His skis dug into the water early, propelling him through the air with his arms held out like Superman before he hit the water. Hard.” Said Nutton, “It was a little bit rough coming into the corner there, and then we hit a bump and I was going a little bit slow. So, I navigated incorrectly and I made a mistake.” Gunstock ended up making its pond longer and more challenging this year after too many skiers stayed dry at last year’s event.


Last Run: Pond Skimming, Wacky Costumes Mark Ski Resort End-of-Season CelebrationsAt Utah’s Powder Mountain, closing day 2024 occurred on April 7, with a highlight being—you guessed it—the pond skim. No prior registration or lift ticket was needed—everyone was welcome to see if they would sink or skim. Attendees also enjoyed six hours of live music, dancing, spring skiing, mechanical bull riding and bouncy houses. Funky and wild outfits weren’t required but were highly encouraged.


In Colorado, closing days at Aspen’s four mountains—Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Aspen Mountain—commenced on March 31 and concluded on April 21. At Buttermilk, Easter Sunday converged with Bacon Appreciation Day. The Aspen Times wrote, “It was a bit nippy and overcast as the smell of pork permeated the base of the mountain. Bacon Appreciation Day had its origins with former SkiCO exec Rich Burkley who wanted to bring a little sizzle to the Buttermilk end-of-season festivities.” And at Snowmass, the Aspen Daily News reported, “Things got so crazy at Snowmass that a skiing cow was seen skimming a pond occupied by a floating unicorn at the Elk Camp Surf & Snow Beach Party.” Now, that’s entertainment.


Steamboat Resort in Colorado also pulled out all the stops during its Springalicious Megafest in mid-April. The top two events were the Cardboard Classic (where skiers cobbled together homemade snow crafts from boxes), and the Splashdown Pond skim that was complete with costumes and prizes.


Okemo, Vermont, sent the season off on April 6 with a pond skimming event followed by a party with live music and BBQ at the base. The Slush Cup pond skim awarded prizes for the biggest splash, best whip-out, best dressed, best run and crowd favorite.


Meanwhile, on April 7, Tahoe Donner, Calif., featured the Downhill Dummy. A downhill dummy can take almost any form, is mounted on skis or a snowboard, and is sent careening down the hill. This year’s theme was superheroes and prizes were awarded for best design, fastest time, longest air and best crash.


These were just a few of the closing day celebrations from around the U.S. As one skier told the Aspen Times, “I always get emotional on closing day. But I’ll get my bike out tomorrow. It’s all good.”


And if you missed the action this time around, don’t despair. Ski ya next year!

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