Each year, around the end of the season, Squaw Valley starts getting ready for a very splashy event. Picture skis, wacky costumes, excited fans, and a small body of water.
That small body of water is Lake Cushing. The splashy and wacky part is the skiers who attempt to make it from one side to the other without either sinking or doing a face plant in this little lake.
Squaw Valley builds what amounts to a short ski run that ends at the front edge of the lake. Skiers and riders hurtle down the ramp and launch into the always chilly waters of Lake Cushing. The goal is to make it all the way to the other side while skimming on top of the water.
Adding to the colorful event, participants generally put on some outrageous outfits that add hilarity to a decidedly off piste event. Costumes range from imitations of Elvis, Jack of the famous Box, to other worldly creatures and critters, and some very inventive ski wear. Colorful wigs, weird wigs, wings, are all likely to be in the mix.
Melissa Brouse, part of the Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows PR team, issued this press release on April 8:
"The acclaimed pond skimming event challenges participants to cross the chilly waters of Cushing Pond on skis, a snowboard or any ski or snowboard-based vessel - resulting in colossal crashes, ultra-creative pond skimming contraptions and hilarious costumes.
This year’s Lake Cushing Crossing kicks off at 1 p.m. at Cushing Pond, located adjacent to the KT Base Bar.
The competition will be limited to the first 50 registrants. Participants can register on the day of the event at KT Base Bar. Registration opens at 9 a.m. and is $20 per competitor. Competitors are required to wear a life preserver and helmet. An early-arrival for registration is recommended, as the event fills up quickly."
This is the list of prizes for the pond skimmers, and it is a very nice list. The overall winner will walk away with a Bronze Pass, GoPro, Oakley Sungalsses and $200. Men's and Women's ski winners go home with a GoPro, Oakley Sunglasses and $100. Men's and Women's snowboard winners receive the same as the ski winners.
Then there is what is called "non-ski/snowboard sliding device." Make something that can carry you across Lake Cushing that generally meets that definition, and you could be the winner of a GoPro, Oakley Sunglasses and $100. In years past, these entries included inflatable kayaks and other not so staid contraptions. If you can dream it, make it, and it slides on snow, and hopefully skims across water, you may be the winner here.
The entire event is a bucketful of fun. The onshore fans are as enthusiastic as the crowd at a Final Four basketball game during March Madness. If you plan to attend go early to get a good spot. As Brouse said, if you plan to participate you'll need to sign up early too.
Those 50 spots sell out very quickly. There's a reason it's referred to as legendary. In addition to all of that, the weekend is predicted to be blue bird sky perfect.