Vail’s pond skimming: A rite of passage |

Vail’s pond skimming: A rite of passage

Ian Cropp
Vail CO Colorado
Pond Skim2 SM 4-17

VAIL ” I’d like to think I became a man sometime in high school, but the truth is, it happened two years ago at the Spring Back to Vail Pond Skimming.

How does one become a man, you ask? Well, the short answer is by dressing up like a woman and attempting to ski across an ice-cold pool of water. I may not have made it across the pond on that sunny April day, but, as anyone who was in attendance can attest, it certainly put some hair on my chest.

The annual right of passage known at pond skimming may or may not have originated around the time of the Medici family came to power in Florence, Italy. While it’s widely believed that the most popular historical figure to have walked on water was Jesus, a Finnish reference library may also lay claim to the title. Anatero Nittiloxi, the all-time winningist pond skimmer (he didn’t lose from 1925-1937), was known to cruise several furlongs with just ski blades.

But enough about the storied past, let’s talk about why pond skimming is more popular than freestyle speed walking.

Pond skimming is like a chaotic Halloween party on skis, but with actual rules.

Dress up

For first-time viewers, arrive early, as the ridiculousness starts before the first double ejection.

The costumes alone are hours of entertainment. Just when you think you’ve seen the most creative or most hideous outfit, along comes a guy wearing nothing but Saran wrap, topping both categories. (In full disclosure, that guy may or may not have been me.)

You’ll see skimmers dressed as Hulk Hogan, the cheerleaders from Saturday Night Live, the Easter Bunny, and most religious figures (a priest, Jesus, a rabbi and nuns). Men dress as scantily-clad women, and women dress as scantily-clad women. There is enough day glow to fool you eyes into thinking it’s a solar eclipse.

And it’s free window shopping ” it’s never too soon to start brainstorming for next Halloween.

Parents need not worry about any X-rated skimmers, as male’s wearing thongs are immediately disqualified.


By the 65th competitor, you’d figure the crashes get old. But much like the Joe Theisman leg break, the spills only get better with time.

You’ll see faceplants, cartwheels, backflips, belly flops, and those are just the intentional falls. Then, there are the tandem skimmers, (two skiers on one pair of skis) which has the carnage potential of a chupacabra at a goat ranch.

As the low success rate suggests, making it across the pond takes skill. Sure, the World Cup that comes through every year is replete with Olympians, but you could be watching the next cross-dressing Olympic athletes (the sport is not slated for the 2014 Sochi Games … yet).

If none of the above entices, you, remember that if your someone you know is skimming, a picture or video will suffice as years of blackmail.

Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or

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