Being situated above the 45th parallel, Montanans can spend a considerable amount of time waiting out winter. We slug out the short, cold days because in the back of our minds we know that once spring comes, Montana will undoubtedly see sunshine in abundance.
With spring sun comes longer days, and the combination of those two breathes a new energy into everything here. It only takes a handful of sunny days to for a winter’s worth of anchor ice to disappear from the riverbanks and for colorful patches of flora to begin to show themselves throughout the Gallatin valley’s pastures and, finally, for the snowline to recede into the mountains.
Warm spring days also have a rejuvenating effect on those who get outside to enjoy them. The sight of rivers flowing free from winter’s icy grip, the smell of fresh mud and even the feel the year’s first accidental sunburn remind us of the even longer, warmer days that are right around the corner.
Of course, “right around the corner” isn’t “now,” but at Big Sky Resort’s crowning season-end event, Pond Skim, folks like to imagine that it is anyway. For the uninitiated, Pond Skim is exactly what it sounds like: Skiers and snowboarders careening down a slope at a rate that is (hopefully) fast enough to allow them to skim across the surface of an ice-cold pond, without getting dunked.
In addition to the obvious challenge at hand (merely crossing the pond), participants must also navigate being bombarded by rogue snowballs from the crowd, good-natured heckles from the live announcer and an unassuming gauntlet of inflatable pool toys that have thwarted even the most experienced skimmers.
This family-friendly event is understandably one of Big Sky’s most popular. The action all goes down on a pond that is constructed at the base of the Ambush headwall on Andesite mountain, which is an easy walk from the plaza in Big Sky Resort’s Mountain Village. The central location of the event allows skiers who want to catch bits and pieces of it between runs to get a birds-eye-view of the carnage and glory from Big Sky’s all-new eight-person Ramcharger 8 chairlift.
While the biggest thrill (or chill) is had by Pond Skim contestants, thousands of repeat spectators come from near and far to join the party every year as spectators. Even though there’s still snow on the hill during the event, Pond Skim is about celebrating the end of winter as much as it is the arrival of spring, and that very sentiment is what causes this mob of people to come to the event with their party pants on year after year.
The event is free to attend and open to the public, but you’ll want to book your lodging for closing weekend well in advance. We recommend staying close by, in one of Big Sky’s on-site hotels, so you can fully immerse yourself in the experience and enjoy the lively after party that takes over the plaza once all of the skimmers have skied.
Pond Skim will be held on April 20th this year. Check out this year’s event details and lodging options at: www.bigskyresort.com/events/pond-skim