A pond-skimming we will go ...
April 14, 2001

We had a 3-day weekend at Sunday River in Bethel, Maine for snowboarding, telemarking and, for me, trying to skim across a pool of not-quite-frozen water on my snowboard. This is a photo record of my temporary insanity.

Here's how it works.

You climb partway up a hill and don your skis or snowboard, or whatever. Then you aim down the hill through the gauntlet of spectators, trying to get as much speed up as you can.

Then you try to keep the board just slightly tilted back as you ride across 40+ or so feet length of the pond. Simple.

I had been talking about this thing all week. Scott, Autumn and Storm didn't really believe I'd do it, but here I am in my cycle shorts, rasta-hat, swim mask and not much else. It's 40 degrees out, but the adrenaline makes me comfortable.

The line to actually take a run was chaotic. No one was in charge, so the most aggressive went first. Today, (and most days) that meant the Scots had free reign.

One had a kiddie snowboard turned 90 degrees w/adult bindings mounted sideways. He wore a kilt and had lots of blue writing on his chest and back. He made it across with an open umbrella. How hard could this be?


There was a huge crowd. Not surprising considering professional wrestling's popularity.

I had finally lost my patience and jumped in front of a kid in what looked like a jogging outfit from the 70s. Yeah, that'll keep you warm!

Some people have to steady me while I snap on the bindings of my board. Then they let go and I begin to ride, fast.

I realize after I've started going that I don't have my mask on. It was just a prop, but I don't want to have to worry about it later, so I attempt to put it on in medias res. I'm trying to pull up the mask and not deviate from the course and not hit the nimrods who are standing in my path and not biff. Definitely not biff. An ignominious fate.



I'm feeling pretty good for the first couple milliseconds.


About half-way across, I indulge in a moment of confidence. I'm cruising and might actually make it across.

Sucker!

I catch a leading edge and face plant spectacularly.

I'm a cold-water scuba diver. I like cold water. I've dove in Scotland.

The water was shockingly cold.

Keep in mind that my feet are attached to my snowboard. I am submerged and it feels (I suppose) like being on fire. I actually forgot what I was doing there, and focused all my being on getting out of the water. I did a forceful pushup to get my head up above the surface. My mask hadn't sealed, so I was half-blind with water and clawing at the side of the pit. The crowd was screaming with glee.

The side of the pit was lined with some kind of plastic cloth and I couldn't get any purchase. I wasn't underwater, tho, and that was the first goal.

Coming back to myself I decided to play to the crowd (some barely a couple feet from me). I wanted to raise my arms in mock triumph.

But my arms wouldn't work. I kept pushing them up, but they wouldn't go. This was frustrating and a bit scary.

After 3 tries, they cooperated, and the crowd seemed pleased. Next step, get the fuck out of this oversized ice-cube tray.

My rasta-hat has come off and is hanging around my neck. A guy in a dry suit (!) wades up to help me. That was a good thing, because I was already shaking.

He helps me up and I can hear the announcer giving me subpar marks. Whatever. I can't keep my balance and do a Nestea plunge back into the water.

Not funny.

I struggle to get up and the announcer says he isn't going to give me extra points for hamming it up.

Yeah.

My drysuit rescuer helps me up again. He holds my arm as I ollie along to the end of the pond. My mind isn't working too well. I need to take my board off, but it hasn't occurred to me yet. He lets go and I am alarmed. He tells me to take off the board and after a few seconds I understand. My hands are barely up to the task. They are like clubs. It hurts. A lot.

I finally release myself and trudge up the embankment with my board. The crowd has already forgotten about me.

I'm shivering uncontrollably. The wind is without mercy. I'm looking for Scott, who has my bag of apres-dunking clothes and such.

Wherever he is, he's taking his time.

When he finally arrives, he insists on taking a picture before giving me my stuff. Normally I would simply have strangled him, but there was a fence between us. And I lacked the finger dexterity.


Give me my towel!!


I brought my core temp back up a degree or so hiking back to the condo. I huddled under a blanket waiting for the crew to arrive for our hot-tub appointment. I can't describe how good that felt.


Dan: Wasn't it cool when I did that faceplant?
Storm: Yeah, Dan. Sure.