For the first time in Slush Cup history, Ken Leghorn attempted to skim across the traditional 130-foot-long, four-foot-deep pond on nothing more than a pair of "skinny skis" Saturday at Eaglecrest Ski Area. His run kicked off the 2009 Slush Cup, which marked the end of the ski season and drew just under 60 competitors in the less-than-spring-like weather.
"The guys dared me to do it. I just had to," said Leghorn, the Nordic director at Eaglecrest Ski Area.
His run, which ended with a sprawling face plant just feet from the beginning of the pond, drew huge cheers from the large crowd gathered just above the base of Ptarmigan chair lift.
"We certainly had a good turnout this year, despite the weather," Kirk Duncan, general manager of Eaglecrest said.
"Spring in Alaska" was the theme this year, and competitors were judged on a few key criteria: style, theme and accuracy - how many gates they made or missed and how far they cruised across the pond. Contestants were encouraged to dress up - or down - as some chose to sport bikinis in the chilly weather. Each category was worth five points for a total of 15 to make a perfect score.
This year's top female was Nancy Peel, who donned a pink helmet, Hawaiian shirt, plastic leis and star-spangled ski suit. She made it nearly all the way across the pond but faltered halfway across and finished with a slushy splash.
The men's side ended in a tie between Miguel Graham and Torsten Ernst, who both posted perfect scores. Graham's style wowed the judges while Ernst's distance helped him rack up the points.
"Sometimes you can make up for distance with style," said Michelle Fournet, a marketing administrative assistant for Eaglecrest, who was tallying up the points.
This year's Best in Theme award went to longtime couple Robyn Grayson and Jimmy Lottes, who dressed up in honor of Easter as a carrot (Grayson) and a bunny (Lottes).
But the winners faced fierce competition from other entrants, and it seemed each had their own unique approach to making it across the pond. Some sported snowboards, some were on skis. Some hit the water with speed, and others attempted to enter the pond backwards. There didn't seem to be a key to success, but each attempt was certainly entertaining.
"My strategy was point it, tuck it, hop a tiny bit at the bottom," Cassandra Squibb said. "But, it didn't work out very well."
Squibb went face first into the chilly water after a bit of air off the takeoff.
Fischer Stevens, 16, who donned an '80s-esque zoot suit and a pair of Lennon-like sunglasses said he was just hoping to ring in the spring season in Juneau with his costume. And as far as his strategy, "I just (wanted) to get above the water on my pontoons," he said.
Sean Edmond, a member of the volunteer ski patrol, and his recruits also were on hand in the pond tucked in dry suits to help sunken skiers and snowboarders out of their gear and out of the cold water in a speedy fashion.
Overall, Duncan said the event is just a great way to get the nontraditional crowd up to the mountain.
"I'm glad everyone came up and had a good time and no one got hurt," he said.
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