The Sno-Kona Pond Skim at Mt Hood Meadows Ski Resort in Oregon. (Temira Wagonfeld)
In the spring, the combination of rising temperatures and melting snow brings out a different side to the sport of skiing. As resorts in the northern hemisphere wind down their seasons, cabin-fevered skiers and snowboarders gather for one last hurrah at these silly, slushy events.
Despite being called the “naked pig ski festival” (named after snowboarding enthusiasts, who are known colloquially as “board pigs”), most participants show up clothed. But every year, at the Tianchi International Ski Resort in Urumqi, China, a few brave souls stay true to the other half of the festival name and bare it all (aside from ski boots, poles and copious amounts of sunscreen).
At Shawnee Peak in Bridgton, Maine, teams of four bring old, unwanted mattresses to the slopes and race them down a straight, snowy course as fast as possible. The racers with the fastest time win a brand new, queen-sized mattress as a replacement. A prize is also awarded to the team with the most creatively decorated mattress, and the resort happily disposes of any unwanted makeshift sleds after the contests.
During pond skimming, skiers and boarders soar down the mountain and end their run skimming over a pond of icy cold water. At Mt Hood Meadows Ski Resort in Oregon, 100 colourfully costumed participants compete in the Sno-Kona Pond Skim for a trip to Hawaii. Whoever skims the farthest, wins.
At the Alyeska Resort outside of Anchorage, Alaska, at Sugarbush in Vermont and at Brian Head Resort in southern Utah, competitors put padded dummies on skis or snowboards and send them down the slopes to see which can get the best air and biggest crash.
After the days of downhill are done, four wheelers and all-terrain vehicles make their way up the mountain instead. At Shanty Creek in Traverse City, Michigan, as many as 80 or 90 vehicles come out to race side by side (two vehicles at a time) in a 400yd sprint to the top of the snow-covered ski slopes in the Schuss Mountain Snow Challenge.
Skiing in summer
Since the snow does not fully melt off the top of Whistler Mountain until late summer, the Crud 2 Mud race in May takes advantage of the snow meeting spring conditions. Competitors ski or snowboard from the top of the mountain to the snow line, then strip their boots and boards and hop on mountain bikes to finish the race down the Whistler Mountain Bike Park.