CAMDEN — It wasn’t a question of getting wet, because that was likely a given for the 50 participants at the first-ever Camden Snow Bowl LOLH20 Pond Skim, March 17. The pragmatists were more concerned about how best to dry out their boots and coats and helmets, after the descent. The more carefree of the bunch dressed appropriately — one in a bathing suit, another in a garbage bag — and barely gave a hoot about getting wet.
And mostly they did, though some zipped so quickly on their skis and snow boards across the water that they barely were dampened.
The Snow Bowl was festive on St. Patrick’s Day, with the lower slopes of the mountain decked out for the annual Cardboard Box Derby, and next to that course, the temporary LOLH2O Pond, a 45-foot-long expanse of water that was meticulously created the night before by Snow Bowl maintenance maestros Tom Beauregard, Mike Bonney, Kerry Collin and Ned Kiley.
The pond skim represented a new event for the mountain, building on the creative and freewheeling energy of the popular terrain park skiers and boarders. While three weeks ago, the annual Sally Deaver Super G Slalom drew alpine racers from across the state for a equally well-prepared race course, the LOLH2O Pond Skim attracted a large number of participants for its first run on the hill.
With Snow Cats and shovels — many shovels — the crew worked well into Saturday night getting the pond dug and lined with giant black plastic that had been donated to the cause by Journey’s End Marina, in Rockland.
Bonney was back on the mountain at 5 a.m. Sunday to get the chairlifts running, which allowed him time to rejoin the others at the new pond and help finish it.
Then, Camden Firefighters Andrew Lowe and Clint Beveridge arrived with an engine to fill the pond, pumping approximately 20,000 gallons of water over from Hosmer Pond to the new Little Hosmer Pond.
After the cardboard box derby ended, around 11 a.m., there were a test runs of the skim pond. With all in working order, it was time for LOLH20.
Boarders and skiers lined up a few hundred feet up the slope at the gate (a line painted in the snow) for the official start of the competition, at 1 p.m.
And then they were off, each in their own mode of dress, and downhill style. Some took a slow start, doing a pirouette on a board, or in showmanship, turning their skis around and skating backward down the mountain. Some tucked down low for speed, and still others cruised straight down, their arms outstretched like birds.
As the approached the water, they either sat back a hair on their boards and skis, like water skiers, or they propelled forward — some made it, some didn't, splashing or tumbling into the water.
Charlie Nicolet, 11, was the first competitor to successfully cross the pond without ending up in the drink.
Standing safety guard at the pond were members of the Ragged Mountain Ski Patrol and Owen Dorr, in his wetsuit, to make sure no one sunk the three feet to Davey Jone’s locker.
After each competitor had taken a first run, several took opportunities for additional attempts to finally successfully cross, or cross again and again. Keeping the crowd informed was announcer Sam Conlin.
When everyone had had enough, they moved into the warmer lodge, where judges Bonney, Beauregard and Conlan bestowed the honors.
Best Costume: Owen Berez, 14, who wore a chicken costume with swim floaties on each of his wings
Best 14 and Under Overall Skim: Charlie Nicolet, 11
Best Female Overall Skim: snowboarder Adelaide “Addie” Kelly, 13
Best Male Overall Skim, Simon Fedarko, 17
Biggest Splash: Hayden O’Connell, 15, for his “ double projectile belly flop.”
In the final category, which was open to the judge’s choice, Jasper Hackett, 11, won the Judges’ Award for his epic sacrifice dive.
“There is no doubt that the Cardboard Box Derby will return next March,” the Snow Bowl said. “And with such a popular and successful pond skim, LOLH2O will definitely is coming back in 2020, with a full 60-foot-long course and more sponsors for bigger and better prizes for more brave skimmers and box builders.”
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