With the threats of impending ice, salt-covered highways, and school delays growing ever more present in our hypothermic lives, spring seems more like misplaced hope than an actual change in seasons. Yet, for the skiers and snowboarders in our lives, this time of year is a blessing and a celebration, and nothing signifies this strange adoration for winter more than the yearly celebration of pond skimming. For those who don’t spend their lives careening down mountains at top speeds, pond skimming might seem like that thing people do in movies where they solemnly throw rocks at water and hope that they jump. This is similar… but a bit riskier. Pond skimming, in the winter sport world, is when a person, geared up in their boots, skis, and their craziest costume, hightails it down a mountain towards a man-made pond in hopes that they can “Pull a Jesus” and make it across the water without sinking. Of course, for on-lookers like me, the hope is that they fail in that effort. This tradition of waterskiing without the boat is usually a celebration of spring and a goodbye to the winter sport season. While participating seems like… a choice, the real fun is in watching the crazy antics of the winter lovers in action. Here are some of the best and driest places around Maryland to watch the annual dunking of the chionophiles,
Tied for 3rd – Liberty Mountain Resort, Fairfield PA and Roundtop Mountain Resort, Lewisberry PA
If you are looking to just “dip your toes” into the pond skimming world, Liberty and Roundtop’s pond
skims on March 20th and 13th are definitely a good way to start.
Registration is free for the infamous skier submerge at Liberty, expected to begin midday on March 20th, and while it is free to watch, those participating are expected to have a lift ticket, be over the age of 18, sign a release, and dress in their finest goofiest ensemble. Costumes are definitely encouraged, and prizes will be awarded for the best, the silliest, and the wettest plunge.
Roundtop’s Costume Pond Skim’s registration usually runs midday on March 13th. For those participating in this dew drench, a costume is mandatory, as well as an age over 12. At midday, the costumes will usually be judged, and the best will win a prize. Right after, the events begin. Food, music, and ice-cold beer will also be served.
Both resorts are a quick drive, making this family friendly event the perfect spectator sport. The whole family can participate while you say on the deck, dry and warm and filled with glee while watching everyone else freeze. While it isn’t the crazy party that one might expect when watching one of the strangest traditions in winter sports history, it certainly will introduce you to the activity. It is also early enough in the season that if you want more crazy winter festivity, you certainly will have time.
Distance from Baltimore: 1.5 hours
At the very end of Bear Creek’s Spring Fling “Weekend” is our beloved pond skim. While the weekend itself, on March 12th and March 20th, features fun activities like card board box races and live music, what we are really interested in is the wonderous snowboarder shower, which begins registration at 9am on Sunday. To participate does require a lift ticket, but the joy of watching people purposely freeze themselves in mountain water is free. Starting at noon, the soaking begins. All who successfully clear the pond (boo) will have their names added to a hat, of which a single winner will be drawn from at the end of the festivities. This king of sludge will receive an unlimited 2022/2023 season pass to the mountain. While certainly an exciting time, filled with food, music, and splashing, this too is only dipping your toes into what pond skimming really could be.
Distance from Baltimore: 2.5 hours
While it is a bit of a distance from good ol’ Baltimore, this celebration of the season is
certainly well worth the drive. Bryce Mountain’s Winterfest begins at 8am with a pancake and waffle breakfast. The party then officially kicks off with a polar plunge, locher challenge, bootlegger, costume parade, and many other family fun games and live music. Finally, to top it all off, those of us who prefer to watch will receive the joyous chance to observe more than 100 costumed fitness people purposely ski into a lake around 2pm. There will be partying, music, and fun all day, so there’s plenty of reason to hang out at the resort till night. The largest downside with this option is the drive, but I might just argue that it is worth it to see the shocked faces of those who get dunked… and to get a pancake in the process.
Distance from Baltimore: 2.5 hours