Celebrate Good Times… Come On!!!

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Hello skiers and riders of the southeast.

In what is most likely a season concluding take, I would like to start off by thanking you for your continued readership plus all the new chatter on our Discord page. I really enjoy the stories and pictures accompanied by the community feeling it brings. Let’s keep it going, especially with the offseason banter.

The notion that all winter sports gear must be put away for the next nine months or so is not only a physical task, but also a psychological one as well. Our inner skiing and riding personas get zipped up and placed on the shelf too.

With that sentiment heading our way, and by the grace of the calendar, the exchange of outdoor activities is a cause for celebration. This is when costumes, sunscreen, and odd beard shaving patterns become the norm. Legendary ski filmmaker Warren Miller once said something “Springtime… it’s time to get weird.”

The resorts of our region understand that plan, and they have very unique ways of welcoming us to close it all down. If you take the very scenic Blue Ridge Parkway to Milepost 291, you will exit on NC-Hwy. 321 in between Boone and Blowing Rock. This is where Appalachian Ski Mountain can be found, and their annual Meltdown Games are a sight to ski, I mean see, with a fun and competitive lineup of events.

This is a weekend long salute-to-snow, but I was only able to visit on the second day. I heard that the rail jam, cardboard box derby, and trash bag downhill were big hits. Apparently that last one is where people literally slide down the slope on their belly with only a trash bag underneath.

As for closing day, the snowmaking crew and ski patrol were hard at work early on to dig, line, and fill the pond while competitors of the High Ollie contest concentrated on hurtling over the bar. Consider it to be similar to pole vaulting, or perhaps the opposite of the limbo, in which the goal is to successfully clear a bar without having anything knock it off. The best of the best topped out at 30 inches, which is quite remarkable given that they did not have a jump to launch off of.

That contest started at 11 AM and was done shortly after high-noon. However, it was during that almost hour-long break that the DJ cranked the music up and the audience swelled in size. The big draw of the pond skim was set to start at 1 PM, and it was reported that roughly one-hundred and twenty-five people signed the waiver for this challenge.

They came from all places and most ages. The youthful participants were extra ambitious while all of us waited to hear our names be called. I think kids have the advantage due to a no-fear attitude, which was in stark contrast to most of the adults that I spoke with. They were more worried about the consequences of failure, and some also realized that they had forgotten a towel just in case. Whoops.

It’s too late to take your commitment back once you see other people go for greatness. Us competitors waiting at the top listened for audience sounds below as an indicator of how it went. Groans and laughter were a bad sign while cheers and an air horn sound effect meant survival. Anxiety levels rose when there was a long gap between successes.

Those who had great speed while keeping their tips up had the best odds of making it. The snow was grabby and very spring-like, so anyone without wax was at a disadvantage already. I was accompanied by one of our loyal readers, Nathan Weaver, and his colleague Nora Davern, who were wise enough to apply some rub on wax in the parking lot. Anything is better than nothing.

The last bits of wax also were necessary for the last event too, the Chinese Downhill. That is a side-by-side blitz where no other rules apply, other than everyone being at full send on the count of 3-2-1-1…Go!!! Those trailing behind got blinded by the kickback of snow from the competitors ahead, but they can consider it to be a parting gift for the offseason.

The entire show was certainly memorable, but there was something more. Everyone was simply full of happiness as they paid tribute to this lifestyle that we embody. The hugs, the photos, and the smiles were abundant. This especially goes for the wonderful staff at all the ski areas that worked hard to provide us with this enjoyment. Be sure to thank them for a job well done, as they of all people should celebrate this season.

I guess this means that we have more daylight, the lawn needs cutting, and do I need more propane for the grill?  Fortunately, we are adaptable creatures with multiple traits that shift with the seasons. Boating, hiking, golfing, camping, beach going, rope swinging, grilling, biking, almost everything else “ing” is coming up for our enjoyment.  There is still an opportunity for you die-hards to get bonus runs in at Cataloochee, Snowshoe, and Sugar Mountain. I have my sights set for Cat on Sunday.

So, let’s conclude this transition into warmer days with a cheer, and watch some pond skimming videos. If you have additional clips from any of the pond skimming events, please send them to our staff, or on our Discord page, so we can add them to this. Cheers!

This is how you wow the crowd.

Going for greatness.

Elsa (Nora Davern) loves the cold.

Nathan Weaver ran out of gas.

Pinch me, I made it. Video by Aaron White.

The season is over.

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