Stinging snow sprays slanted onto Eldora Mountain Resort on Sunday but the skiers/snowboarders sitting on the slope, many of them displaying naked legs, chests and arms, including one man who wore only boots and a hat and a skinny green thong, didn’t seem to think it was a big deal.
They were heated by adrenalin, by the knowledge that they would soon hurtle straight down a fast-becoming-icy slope and hit a four-foot-deep pond of ice water. Their one chance of not sinking into the body-numbing liquid was to have enough speed to squeeze it out to the end of the plastic lined pool banked by berms of snow.
The first annual Pondskim lured about 50 brave souls and a large crowd of spectators. The participants included Nederland Middle School students and competitors that compete in pond skimming events at other snowsports resorts.
Nederland Fire Protection District firefighters showed up to assist the skimmers who ended up standing in three feet of water, their boots attached to snowboard or ski bindings while the freezing water numbed skin and stunned brain and muscles.
When the firefighters work the Frozen Dead Guy Polar Plunge, they wear diving suits. On Sunday they wore regular clothes and were soon soaked as the athletes skimmed waves of slush over the firefighters as they maneuvered their way on the surface. Skiers seemed to have more control than the snowboarders who careened from side to side.
Firefighters Jim Harrison, Eric Abramson, Rob Savoye and Connor hauled the drenched people out of the pond. It wasn’t always pretty but no one drowned or froze to death.
Nederland Middle School student Carmela Hessner completed her snowboard trip across the pond successfully. She said she was really scared when she headed down the hill knowing she had to go faster than she was used to, but she zoomed down the hill, over the water and up the bank. According to Carmela, you don’t get cold if you don’t get wet.
The pondskim was another example of EMR’s goal to have more events at the base of the mountain. It was not a competition, anyone could sign up, sign a waiver and aim for dry.