Pond skimming competitions are a rite-of-spring in ski culture. Between March and May, ski areas across the world celebrate the end of the season with skiers and snowboarders gliding across a man-made pond in wild costumes.
In Vermont, pond skimming contests have been around for 48 years. Sugarbush kicked off the annual tradition in 1969 when they bulldozed a pit in front of the Valley House Lodge at Lincoln Peak, where the event has been held every year since. The pit is lined with plastic and filled with water, creating a 120-foot-long stretch for skiers and riders to make their way across (or not).
Seeing what the contestants wear—which can range from wedding dresses to tutus to super hero costumes—is what makes pond skimming so festive and fun. You can watch or participate in pond skimming events at many Vermont resorts, including Sugarbush, Bolton Valley, Smugglers’ Notch, Stratton, Burke, Jay Peak, and Killington.
If you’re thinking of participating in a pond skimming event, Liftopia.com suggests keeping your tips up (but skis/board flat), go for maximum speed when you hit the water, and go straight. They also advise waxing your skis beforehand as the wax will naturally repel the water and keep you above it.
Banff in Canada is said to have the oldest pond skimming event in the world, and this year it will host the 88th Annual Slush Cup in May. In Vermont, pond skimming at most resorts takes place between late March and mid-April.
Craig Panarisi, vice president of mountain operations at Stratton, points out that pond skimming isn’t just a fun event, but an actual technique skiers have historically used to get down a mountain in the spring.
“I’ve worked at seven ski resorts beginning in 1982, and each and every one has held a pond skim,” he says. “Pond skimming was a result of spring melting on ponds and lakes, (and it was) simply in the way of skiers exiting the mountains, resort or not. I know from my guiding days that we would always skim small melted out sections of rivers or lakes, if that’s what it took to get off the glacier.”
Here are upcoming Vermont pond skimming events:
Photos courtesy of Sugarbush Resort
Stowe Mountain Resort
April 1, 2017
April 2, 2017
April 8, 2017
April 8, 2017
April 15, 2017
For more information about events at Vermont ski areas, visit www.skivermont.com.