Annual pond skim event at Boyce Park beats late winter warm-up, raises funds for Ski Patrol
There was no better way to bid adieu to winter than taking part in the pond skim at Boyce Park on Sunday.
That's according to the 30 skiers who took the leap from the ski slope to a small pond, ideally skimming the surface while still standing. The most experienced skimmers finished their runs with a flip or some other acrobatic feat.
Sunday was the last day on the slopes for the season at Boyce Park, where a wide swath of man-made snow is girded by a drab green and brown landscape, lying in wait for spring.
The warmer weather is coming quickly, so fast that the ski facility moved up its closing date and pond skim event by a week because of the predicted near 70-degree forecast this week.
The last gasp of winter playfulness, the third annual Peak Ski Jamboree Pond Skim raised money for the Boyce Park Ski Patrol and was sponsored by Peak Ski and Board shop in Plum.
“It's a good and interesting way to end the season,” said Tom Mettrick, ski manager at Boyce. Although the warmer-than-usual winter limited the facility's days of operation this year — 68 days this season compared with 106 days in 2014-15 —“it was still a fair year,” he said.
However, the skiers and about 50 spectators Sunday weren't thinking much about the upcoming forecast.
Many took the plunge into a frigid makeshift pool dug out of one of the slopes, lined with a tarp and filled with unappealing, iron-orange colored water, which at its deepest was 3.5 feet.
“I'm doing it just 'cause,” said Shane Dudding, 15, of Plum who fearlessly rode his snowboard into the pond. “It seems like a fun thing to do,” he said.
Roger Morates, 42, of Fox Chapel, wasn't convinced it was the right thing to do.
“I'm letting the young bucks take a try first,” he said. Later, Morates opted not to take the plunge.
The initial runs over the pond ended up with the skiers falling in the water, making a loud “boof” when they hit.
“The best part is getting in the water,” said Brendan Derry, 18, of Plum, who on his first try indeed landed in the pond with a slight face plant. After fishing out one of his skis, Derry took a second plunge. When he realized that he wasn't going to properly clear the lip of the pond, he went in for his second dunk.
It was easy, according to Jared Boger, 19, of Murrysville, who skimmed successfully. “You lean back just like you are water skiing,” he said.
Tricia Rombach, 32, of Plum, the only female skimmer and one of the older participants, took the plunge for her first try.
“I lost speed,” she said.
Her second run was better. She cleared the pond and stayed on her feet. “I've redeemed myself,” she added.
Rombach, a ski instructor, has skied in all three of Boyce's skim events. “It's a thrill,” she said.
For Erik Rathfon, a manager of Peak Ski and Board who helped fish out skis and tried to plug holes in the pond's tarp, “It's fun to watch and the skiers love it.”
Rathfon said he preferred to be on the sidelines helping. He tried skimming a few times at Seven Springs Mountain Resort and “it never went well for me.”
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4691 or firstname.lastname@example.org.