Sunday, March 25, 2012

Canyons Pond Skimming 2012

Every year I make sure I get to the Pond Skimming competition at Canyons' Spring Gruv.  If you're bored, the past years are fairly entertaining: 2011, 2010 and 2009.  This year I was especially lucky and got to move inside the spectator fence so that I could capture better pictures. A huge thanks to Cliff Boltz for making this happen!  Sadly, Julie was at work and couldn't join me.

If you are a Pond Skimming Competitor and would like your pictures, send me an email with your number (or numbers for a group) and a description of what you were wearing. I have at least something for almost everyone. My email is "sjoyce" over at

There was a huge crowd and Canyons has gotten really good at building huge "snow bleachers" so everyone gets a decent view.  A 60 degree spring day didn't hurt the crowd appeal.
Most people are either skiing for the day or just rode up the gondola in their street clothes. Of course, some people have a very different set of street clothes.
This years judges included Miles Rademan, one of the two heads of my Leadership Park City program.

I'll start with one of the big disappointments: Boozie the Clown.  In the past, he has been a real crowd pleaser with his ability to cut hard and put up a huge wave of water, normally aimed at the judges.  This year it was closer to a flop and everyone remained toasty warm and dry.
Getting to sit inside the fence seemed like a good idea for taking pictures, until this guy came blasting across the pond and nearly ran me over.  That was all the motivation I needed to get up and move to a spot beside the pond instead of at the end of it.
Skiing across the pond is hard enough.  Doing it as a one legged pirate is impossible.  This guy gave it an excellent attempt.
Tim Tebow never goes a week without being in the news.  This event wasn't to be any different.  This was the first of two Tebow competitors.  Even though it looks like he is just taking a knee in the snow, he is moving quickly and about to hit the jump.
This was probably the most stylish mid-air pose I saw all day. 
There are three balance approaches to try: leaning back, leaning forward, and somewhere in the middle.

First, we have the knee stretching technique of leaning back, a lot.  You end up killing a lot of your speed, but you look cool doing it.

Then we have a friend of ours, Diane Carson. She went with the "never to be recommended" forward lean.
Here's why.  I've never seen a good ending to a ride using this technique.
Here's a balanced approach, but come on!  How can you not make it across the pond if you are dressed as Jesus Christ?  When you lose momentum, you just walk on water.
A different technique is to try avoiding the water completely.  This requires using the bigger jump, a lot of speed, and a ton of enthusiasm.
Not a frick'n chance in the world!
Perhaps to generate lift, this guy tried to helicopter off the jump.
With the same result.
Perhaps you just need more vertical and less drag (hence the small bathing suit)?

Now an exception....  Over the years I have watched the Pond Skimming, I have never seen anyone get anywhere near as much air as this guy.  Not height. Distance. I think he was literally trying to fly the entire pond.  In this photo, notice where he is with respect to the jump and the Canyons sign. This is about as far as anyone gets.
Now still in the air...  Notice how far he has gone past the Canyons sign. He could have skimmed the pond if it had ended over at the gondola. His challenge was stopping before killing people in the crowd.
This guy didn't get the same air, but used his board to keep a lot of speed going across the pond. Rather than braking in the snow, he hit the brakes in the last few feet of water.  This was quite the surprise for all the spectators on the other side of that wall of water. This was where I started taking pictures from. 
I'm not sure quite what this guy was doing.  I don't think he was a legitimate competitor. He ran and dove off the jump into the pond. No skis.  No snowboard.  No costume.  Not much of a bathing suit.
And it wouldn't be a pond skimming without some bare butt.  The bathing suit wasn't all that sturdy.

Let's go to some of the prize winners, and those that were close.  There is an award for the Best Crash.  Relying on destiny for this, three people dressed in a giant cardboard ship, the Concordia.  If the name doesn't ring a bell, this is the cruise ship that recently ran aground, killing about 25 people.

The ship didn't survive half way down the ski run. They fell and it shredded.  They left the debris, went off the jumps, and got a big round of applause, but it wasn't enough to win.
A bigger group came down the hill dressed as a Chinese Dragon. This one was even more entertaining.  Not only did the dragon fall apart, it seemed as though it was intentionally taking the skiers with it.  Clearly a winner.
One of my fellow Leadership Park City class participants, Matt Mullin, was dressed as the Honey Badger, complete with a "Honey Badger Don't Care" shirt and a cobra.  If you haven't seen the famous video, watch at least part of this.  It has 40+ million hits on Youtube.
Matt won a pair of skis for "Best Male".
Last year, two young guys created a great cardboard Delta plane and went as pilots. This year they were back with two guys in a horse costume pulling a gladiator in a cardboard chariot.
They made it down intact, at which point you have the challenge of going off the jump almost simultaneously without killing each other.
They spread out enough to land safely and took home the prize for best costume.

Last year's best prize went to a guy who came down the hill with a step ladder rigged as a diving board.  It's at the end of this post.  This year it got scarey.  He built a big structure that came down the hill on snowboards, very slowly and very awkwardly.
At the bottom, he kicked off his board and took his rope swing through the structure, and into the pond.
OK, the part about "into the pond" was the plan, but not the execution.  What actually happened was that the swing broke all four supports.  He landed hard on the snow at the edge of the pond and the entire structure collapsed on him. He did eventually roll into the water.
Fellow spectators and close friends:  Bill, Loris, Arnie, and Manette.
Another year, another tremendous event by Canyons ski resort and one hundred whacky, clever, mostly inebriated participants!

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