Despite a lack of sun and temperatures that hovered near 40 degrees on Monday, the competition at the first inaugural Pond Skimming World Cup Championship was, as they say in Canada, fuego.
Serving as the fifth and final qualifying pond skim on the World Cup tour, the famed Sunshine Village Slush Cup (in it’s 88th year) delivered their own champions, Jenny Strong and Zack Belczyk, to compete against seven other frothing competitors from the United States for the title of World Champion.
A costumed crowd of 1,500-plus spectators descended on the Canadian Rockies to witness Squaw Valley's Cushing Cup victor and Olympian Errol Kerr deliver the winning run when he artfully, if not poetically, transferred a lickety-split approach to the pond into a seemingly slow-motion carve and butter as he crossed the 85-foot pond in a spandex Jamaican racing suit.
“We were blown away,” says judge Vince Goyette. “He actually carved on water; He put his edges on water twice and it was clear he was the winner.”
Kerr, 30, started racing competitively at age 11 and represented Jamaica in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, finishing 9th overall in ski cross. His winning run was undoubtedly inspired, though his competitors made their own valiant attempts at eternal glory.
With any type of inversion or flips (not to mention nudity and drug or alcohol use) banned from the competition, skimmers were forced to look elsewhere for flair and style. Save for Don "The Rocket" Brockett who threw caution and the rulebook to the wind with a massive, sendy front flip that resulted in two things: 1.) An official DQ by the judges, and 2.) A massive roar of approval from the crowd.
“Pablo Picasso once said, ‘Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them and get free beer after,” says Brockett of his performance. “Getting sendy for the ladies was a pretty easy call, but deciding whether to cannonball or stick it was tougher. I went for both and failed miserably.”
The ladies, including Big Sky champ Robbie Shelby, made a strong showing in the championship round as well. Choosing to forego a costume, Miss Slush Cup's strong and steady cross-pond skim earned her a nod for Best Female Performance, questionably outscoring Crested Butte winner/living legend Wendy Fisher, à la flapper girl.
Fisher's Colorado counterpart TJ Hamilton, Big Sky's Ryan Johnson, and Mr. Slush Cup—each donning their own creative flair from a marching band uniform, a furry rat suit, and a dad-in-plaid vibe, respectively—were successful in reaching the far side of the 40-degree water; a notable feat after less than a dozen of the 61 Slush Cuppers had been able to do so earlier in the day.
But it was the lone snowboarder among the group of would-be champions, Nate Holland, whose successful run most impressed the rowdy crowd. Including the 61 Slush Cup participants, split equally between skiers and boarders, Holland was the only snowboarder the entire day to successfully skim the pond, earning him Best Male Performance, which the Olympian is rumored to treasure far above his seven X Games gold medals.
The unofficial winner of the day, however, was the guy who successfully skimmed across the length, dropped to one knee, and pulled out a ring. Mazel tov, buddy. She said yes. We’ll look for our wedding invite in the mail.