Pond skimming, costumes close out season at Vail
VAIL, Colorado – It seems like just yesterday that Vail and Beaver Creek were gearing up for a season everyone hoped would be as snowy as the previous two – and even though Mother Nature didn’t live up to our expectations this year, those who love to ski and ride can still look back on yet another great season.For people like Jimmy Vonesh, who moved to the valley from Washington to be a ski patroller at Beaver Creek this year – the season was good enough to make him want to come back again next year.Daniel Haber, who moved to the valley from New Orleans for the season, said he’s had a blast every day on the mountain this year. He said he skied Vail about twice as often as Beaver Creek and absolutely loved both mountains.”It was my first season out here – it was incredible,” Haber said. Vail Mountain’s Closing Day party is one of the best parties of the year – everyone dresses up in retro ski wear and funny costumes and celebrates the reason why we’re all here. Over the years, some parties have been wilder than others, but Vail Mountain officials hope this season’s Closing Day parties are tame enough to keep the party going next year. Things are a little different this year, as Vail scheduled the World Pond Skimming Championships on Closing Day, rather than the day before as in the past. The purpose was to disperse the crowds a little bit so officials could get a better handle on the partying, but it has many people just planning their schedules more carefully so they can fit it all in.Brad Ryan, of Vail, said he’s going to register for pond skimming as early as possible so he can get his run out of the way and get to the Chair 4 at 4 party. He was getting ready to ski at Vail on Saturday with his 1960s ski outfit on already – why not start a day early.”This is what spring skiing is all about,” Ryan said. Skimming brings on laughsThe costumes at the top of Vail Mountain on Closing Day might be funny, but there’s nothing like the costumes worn by the brave pond skimmers. Ryan is breaking out a red “Thriller” costume, modeled after the Michael Jackson music video. He wore it to the Spring Back to Vail concert Wednesday night and figured he’d rock the costume one more time. Pond skimming is a closing weekend tradition that some participants have made their own tradition. Ryan is heading into his fifth year attempting the feat of launching off a jump and trying to make it as far across an ice-cold, 100-foot pond as possible. He knows injury is part of the game, and he’s ready.”I twisted my ankle one year, but that comes with the territory,” Ryan said. You don’t think you’re going to get away unscathed.”Pond skimmers, who perform on either skis or a snowboard, are judged for the overall effect, costumes, distance traveled and the crowd’s response. Brothers Brian and Mark Sample, from Broomfield and Longmont, respectively, were driving up to Vail on Saturday morning discussing their plans of attack for the World Pond Skimming Championships. Mark Sample won two years ago, and the brothers have competed for the past five years. “In the five years I’ve done it, I’ve only made it across once,” Brian Sample said. Brian Sample got into pond skimming after watching it on Warren Miller movies. The brothers first tried it at Winter Park, and are now hooked on Vail. They have their sights set on skimming at Big Sky, Montana, too. “My strategy is to win the lottery so I can go on pond skimming tour,” Brian Sample said. This year the guys are donning remnants of last year’s Mexican wrestler costumes, combined with some other apparel. Brian Sample said he’s wearing a gorilla suit, too. The plans for the day include getting breakfast, skiing, meeting up with their parents and probably having a couple of shots before the event to loosen up. Mark Sample said he’s just excited to end the ski season with another hilarious pond skimming attempt.”It’s just really funny,” Mark Sample said. “People getting slung around and beat up, with great costumes. It’s just creative and it’s fun and there’s lots of positive energy.”Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or email@example.com.