as promised, here are some images of the bolton valley 2013 pond skimming.
i know, i know, by the time this thing posts it will be closing day already, but it was an awesome season, wasn't it?
if you weren't there, you should just take my word for it. beauty was seen. adventures were had.
but pond skimming!
it is a spring ritual on the ski hills just as sugar on snow is at the sugarshacks.
and it's kind of amazing.
first the trail guys have to dig a really big hole with their giant snow machines, and then they line the big hole with a tarp and fill it with water. the pond's about three feet deep and it takes a number of hours to fill.
and it may be all festive and wacky, but skiing is a risk-assumed sport with some inherent dangers and pond skimming doubly so.
for starters, there's the general risk of falling while skiing and the general risk of falling while water skiing and the fact that those two activities are combined in this one event. if you have ever had you legs uncomfortably splayed out in a fall while water skiing, you know what i'm talking about here. additionally, that water is about thirty-five degrees so the unpleasantness factor can rise dramatically.
past that, though, there's the body's involuntary response to sudden cold water immersion: cold water shock. this is related to but not the same as the mammalian diving reflex.
the tricky bit is that when your face hits the water you WILL take an involuntary gasp and if you are unlucky, you will suck in a lungful of water and it will be possible for you to die in under a minute.
add to this the fact that you are wearing heavy ski boots and that your feet are probably still stuck in your bindings, making it unlikely for you to maneuver and difficult not to panic.
but skiers have been performing this ritual for years, and ski patrol has an answer to a lot of this. first of all, they keep a lot of EMTs on hand. and second, they have these two guys who stand IN THE POND and they work lightning quick. if you fall in, one guy grabs you immediately under your arms to elevate your head and chest above the water and the second guy dives for your feet to release your bindings and fish you out of there right quick.
those guys wear neoprene cold water immersion suits, but it's probably pretty uncomfortable standing in the pond for the whole afternoon. it is wroth seeing the pond skimming if only to see those guys work.
but technical aspects aside, it is an awesome spectacle and the crowd hoots and hollers and winces and cheers and laughs and we'll all go ride bicycles or paddle kayaks or whatever it is we do when it's summer but for now we are holding on to the last bright days of ski season and when winter comes again, we will be ready.