Need for speed: Cushing Crossing to celebrate 25th year at Squaw Valley
If you go
What: 25th annual Cushing Crossing
When: 1 p.m. Saturday, April 4
Where: Squaw Valley
Tickets: $20 to enter (registration beings at 9 a.m. at KT Base Bar), free to spectate
Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the 2014-15 winter edition of Tahoe Magazine, a product of the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Sierra Sun, North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Lake Tahoe Action. The magazine is available now throughout the Lake Tahoe and Truckee region.
Somewhere between Lake Tahoe’s winter and summer is a lesser-known season that wholly encapsulates the fun-loving, oddball-embracing ski culture here: Pond-skimming season.
Pond skimming, in which skiers and snowboarders fly down a snow-covered hill in hopes of carrying enough speed to shoot themselves across a body of water, can be found at ski resorts all around Lake Tahoe in the spring.
The events always attract a crowd. Certainly, seeing a pond skimmer falter and take a dip is part of the allure, as is seeing someone successfully take to the water on a pair of skis designed for snow. Silly costumes have never hurt the spectator-friendly nature of anything, either.
The mother of all Lake Tahoe pond skims takes places at Squaw Valley this weekend. The Lake Cushing Crossing is attended by thousands of people each year and is among the most spirited of pond skims.
“It’s pretty unique as far as pond crossings go,” said Kyle Crezee, director of events, activities and terrain parks at Squaw. “It’s certainly one of the longest-running, if not the longest-running, pond crossings in the nation.”
Crezee, who has helped organize the event the past five years and participated in the past 10, has taken to the more than 100-foot-long pond as Evel Knievel jumping school buses, Captain Morgan of rum fame, the pope on a snow bike and as “GoPro Man,” wearing 25 GoPro cameras and a GoPro wingsuit.
One of the best parts of the event is that it’s open to anyone, Crezee said. About 50 people are allowed to register each year. Professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones and Olympic skier Marco Sullivan are among the event’s past participants.
“We’ve got everything from former and current Olympians to random-Joe-recreation guy off the street, so it’s pretty cool,” Crezee said. “Most people spend all year putting their plan together for what they are going to do for the Crossing.”
Truckee’s JD Hoss, a past winner of the event, agreed that the fact anyone can compete is part of what makes the event special.
“It’s a great event,” said Hoss, owner of 101.5FM Truckee Tahoe Radio. “It’s the only event where I can actually compete with the Olympians.”
Hoss has competed in the Cushing Crossing as a demon from KISS and as a full-metal jouster. He’s also worn a collection of his daughter’s tutus and threw glitter everywhere.
“It’s an open event for creativity,” Hoss said.
A unique costume and style are big parts of winning the competition, which is judged on a 50-point scale.
“You must cross the pond with style, authority, creativity, and you need to be the best that day,” Hoss said. “Only that moment will tell. Only that moment in time will tell who it is.”
For anyone looking to compete, both Crezee and Hoss have the same advice: Stay centered and embrace the speed.
“Speed is your friend,” according to both Crezee and Hoss.
“You just gotta stick the rail and let ‘em run,” Hoss added. “Speed check, you’ll lose.”
Although spring is a bittersweet time for skiers, pond skims like the Cushing Crossing make sure winter leaves with a bang. Hoss called the Cushing Crossing the “Super Bowl” of pond skims and a “crescendo for Squaw.”
“It’s a great kind of end of the ski season event for us,” Crezee said. “It’s a highlight of the year for a lot of people.”
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