Pond Skimming Explained and Tips for Your Next Pond Skim

Published on 05/28/2023 · 5 min readPond Skimming Champion and Curated Ski Expert Hayden Wright gives some background on pond skimming and a few tips to help you make it across the pond this year!
Hayden Wright, Ski Expert
By Ski Expert Hayden Wright

Backy in front flip out! Keystone Slush Cup 2016 Skier Hayden Wright. Photo courtesy of Keystone Resort/Vail Resorts

So you've had an electric season, and the resorts are slowly starting to close. This can bring about some sadness that your favorite sports season is ending. But it also brings fun events, closing day parties, and fun days on the hill! One of my favorite things that come around the end of the season is the classic Pond Skim or Slush Cup events hosted at just about every resort. These events are where contestants dress up in wild and wacky costumes and try to skip across the pond made by the resort with fire hydrant water. Champions are crowned for staying dry and adding the best style in and out of these man-made ponds.

These events typically happen in the spring and on the last weekend. I particularly enjoy them because my birthday is April 22 (Earth Day, baby). So occasionally, one lands on my birthday. Now you're probably asking, “Why would you want to try and skim across a freezing body of water?” It’s not only for the grand prize—sometimes a season pass to the resort it's hosted at. Not for the cash prize for the best costume. Not the biggest splash, best splash award, or the best crash award. You want to risk the frigid waters for the glory of being the crowned Pond Skim Champion! A title you get to have for the entire summer and next season until springtime rolls around.

The first slush cup I competed in was at my home resort and, in my opinion, one of the best. Alyeska Resort is located in Girdwood, just 40 minutes south of Anchorage, Alaska. It's a smaller resort with a vertical drop of 2,500' and an average of 669" of snow each year. The Alaska Airlines Pond Skim is a tradition that brings hundreds of locals, tourists, and ski bums together! In 2008, two of my closest friends, Cole and Cooper, and I decided we would compete in the Slush Cup. Unfortunately, we all didn't make it across and felt the barely above-freezing water. After that, I was determined to try the next season!

The next season went by, and my buddy Cole and I wanted to mix it up this year at Slush Cup. We decided to mount two sets of bindings on one set of skis to save money on the lift tickets or entry fees. Unfortunately, we didn't get enough speed that year and made it three-quarters across. After that, I was determined to make it across a pond! Fast forward, I move to Colorado, and springtime rolls around. I go to Keystone for their annual Slush Cup. Armed with my knowledge and experience, I was determined to win the best run and overall skimmer. I was going to win it all. As I walked up to the top of the pond with my freshly waxed skis, I was ready to party in my Canadian tuxedo. That season, I won Keystone's Slush Cup, second in Vail’s, and third at Copper Mountain’s.

Keys to Speed

2009 Skiers Hayden Wright and Cole Christianson, Alyeska Resort, AK. Photo by Janice Wright

Speed is the key to making it across the chilly waters. Also, being at least an intermediate skier who is used to hitting jumps helps even better if you're an advanced skier. As you bomb down the slushy in run under the sunshine, you need to make as few turns as possible. Get ready for the jump, and do not let it buck you like a Jerry of the Day. Land on the water with equal weight on your feet, and then it's like skiing on powder. Get to the end if you do it correctly, and you'll have some extra speed. Toss a trick out of the pond and stomp the landing!

With these tricks and tips, you can win a pond skim. I recommend getting comfortable skiing fast, hitting jumps, and having a great costume. If you can pull all that off, you may find yourself on the podium and crowned King/Queen of the Mountain and Slush Cup/Pond Skim Champion!

Slush Cup Tips to Success

Skier Hayden Wright at SlopeSoakers Copper 2017. Photo by Daniel Milchev via the Red Bull Content Pool

  1. Maximum stoke and being excited are key.
  2. Be very comfortable skiing at higher speeds.
  3. Be confident in hitting jumps, especially jumps with a lot of wu-tang (lip) on them.
  4. Wax those send sticks with most likely a warm weather wax.
  5. GET CREATIVE with your costume. Current events are great for inspiration.
  6. If you notice riders ahead of you aren’t getting enough speed, ask if you can start higher up.
  7. The fewer turns the better as turns cut speed. You need to stay in control while maintaining good speed.
  8. As you approach the jump, be ready for it, and if you’re throwing a trick, get ready!
  9. Once you land in the water, try to keep even weight distributed between your feet.
  10. Look to the end of the pond as you skip your way to the history books.
  11. If you have done everything above, you should have some good speed left to even throw a trick out of the pond for bonus points.
  12. When you arrive across the pond dry and a whistle, throw your arms up and get the crowd going.

In Conclusion

Slope Soakers Podium 2017 with Curated Expert Hayden Wright in 3rd place! Photo by Daniel Milchev via the Red Bull Content Pool

Pond Skims are very fun events that bring an end to the ski season. They also test your skills to see if all those days on the hill that season paid off! Perform well, and you can win prizes and become the Pond Skim Champion. If you’re feeling up for the challenge, keep an eye out for any of these events at your local mountain next spring.

Remember to use the tricks we went over in this article, and good luck! If you or anyone you know is looking for new ski or snowboard equipment, get connected with me or any of the other Winter Sports Experts here on Curated!

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