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Spring splashes into slopes

Surf’s up, so be sure to remember extra socks and pull out the fattest skis you own. Huh?

“Not getting wet. That is the whole art of pond skimming,” said Peter Loughlin, director of events and promotions at Kirkwood Ski Resort. “Even though the pond is solar heated, and I use the term heated loosely, it can be pretty cold.”

In “pond skimming” skiers and boarders attempt to finish up a run by skimming across a pool of water at the base. The event, with its sometimes crazy results, calls to the spirit of spring-breakers, organizers said. People attempt the crossing in attire that ranges from full ski gear to boxer shorts. Kirkwood’s pond, measuring 50 feet long, 20 feet wide and 4 feet deep, will be in operation this weekend for the resort’s Sixth annual Kirkwood Jammin’ spring party.



During the next three weeks South Shore resorts will be using H2O as both a liquid and a solid in a myriad of spring-break festivities. Sierra-at-Tahoe and Heavenly Ski Resorts also give skiers and boarders a chance to get wet in April.

Dave Holden, a ski patroller at Sierra, is a veteran skimmer who has successfully navigated the waters during past events.




“It was a nice sunny day, so I thought ‘What the heck,'” he said. “I stayed nice and dry. The second time I went down pulling a toboggan. About half way across I could tell that me and the toboggan weren’t going to make it. So, I ditched the sled.”

Holden offered a few suggestions for the uninitiated.

“Use a snowboard. You have more surface area, and pick up as much speed as possible,” he said.

At Sierra, participants can forgo skis and boards altogether this year for the “Salamander,” a 15-person raft. Imagine a water toy people can pull behind power boats, and you get the idea.

Loughlin said contestants at Kirkwood are expected to do more than survive their water adventure. Style is required, and when all else fails there is also a prize for best crash. So if you’re going to go down, make it good.

“Part of the fun is going down in front of a large crowd. Part is fear of crashing in front of large crowd. Some years we’ve had 2,000 to 3,000 people watching at the end of the day,” Loughlin said.

Water sports are just one of the draws of spring skiing. Aficionados rave about the warm temperatures and the “corn.” When the snow continually freezes at night and melts during the day it forms small balls that rise to the surface – creating corn.

“Corn snow is a really good skiing surface,” Holden explained. “It’s a nice soft, easy snow and when it’s perfect it feels like velvet.”

Spokespersons for all three resorts said there will be music, barbecues, Easter egg hunts and fun races to celebrate spring.

Breakout Schedule of Events

Kirkwood Jammin’ VI, March 27 to April 4

(Same schedule every day)

11 a.m. DJ music starts

1 p.m. ski and snowboard big air contest

2 p.m. skier-cross and boardercross contest

3 p.m. pond skimming

Sierra-at-Tahoe Easter Weekend, April 3-4

Sierra SunSplash April 3

10 a.m. snobiker cross race

12-3 p.m. Party at the pond, reggae band

April 4

11 a.m. Easter Bunny arrives, egg hunt on Broadway

Heavenly’s “Springloaded ’99,” April 3-18

April 3

2 p.m. dual mountain bike challenge, reggae concert by “Cornerstone”

April 4

10 a.m. Easter Bunny makes an appearance, egg hunt

12 p.m. training for finals of Huckfest, competition starts at 3 p.m.

April 6

2 p.m. Euro sled fun race

April 9

“Snowloaded” pond skimming derby

April 10

8 a.m. Top Gun on Gunbarrel, mogul competition

2-5 p.m. concert by “Filet of Soul”

April 11

8:30 a.m. family fun race

2-5 p.m. concert by “Filet of Soul”

3 p.m. Team Dummy Gelande Jump

April 14

2 p.m. Cardboard Box Team Challenge

April 17-18

Boarderfest series, half-pipe, big-air and boardercross competition


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