Spring skiing: Ending the season with a bang

Spring skiing usually has great weather, deep discounts and pond skimming

craig.hill@thenewstribune.comMarch 16, 2014 

Skiers and snowboarding attempt to skim across a pool of water, during a pond-skimming competition, in celebration of Summit West’s 75th anniversary, Sunday March 24, 2013.(Janet Jensen/Staff photographer)

JANET JENSEN

Women skiing in bikinis. Men skiing in Speedos. A mile-high church service. Free lift tickets. Deeply discounted season passes. Blue skies. And pond skimming.

Spring arrives in the Northwest on Friday and it’s bringing with it all of the above.

Sure, it also means ski season is winding down, but with plenty of snow still on the mountains — thanks to a barrage of late-season storms — this might just be the best time of year to hit the slopes.

Here’s what you need to know to get the most out of the rest of the season:

MILTARY DISCOUNTS

From Friday-March 23, The Summit at Snoqualmie is offering 45 percent discounts on lift tickets and discounts on gear, rentals, lessons, food and tubing for all visitors with valid military identification.

On April 13, Crystal Mountain is offering half-price lift tickets for military personnel.

More info: summitatsnoqualmie.com, crystalmountainresort.com

DUMMY DOWNHILL

Regardless of your IQ, you can’t ski in Mission Ridge’s 14th annual Dummy Downhill on March 29. Only real dummies can race.

Participants must build a dummy weighing 100 pounds or less, strap it to a pair of skis or a snowboard, then send it off down the hill toward a large jump. Very few survive the landing. Awards, including skis and season passes, are given in several categories including “most creative,” “most likely to survive” and “best carnage.”

More info: missionridge.com

PARK PARTIES

There’s always action in the Summit’s Central Park. And, usually, if it’s over your skill level, it’s still worth watching. There are several events planned in the park this spring including Saturday’s Squirrel Skate Jam and the March 29 Sandbox.

The skate jam is for snow skaters (picture a skateboard with a ski instead of wheels). The Sandbox is a snowboarding event.

At Stevens Pass, home of a massive terrain park, the second Flannel Cup is scheduled for March 29.

The cup is a slopestyle event that draws some of the most talented, high-flying skiers and riders from around Western Washington. Slopestyle skiing and snowboarding made their debuts in the Winter Olympics last month, but the sports have been around since the 1990s.

More info: summitatsnoqualmie.com, nwflannelcup.com

FREE SKI WEEK

You’ll have to put some miles on your car to take advantage of the best deal of the spring.

Each year 49 Degrees North, the state’s second-largest ski area, finishes the season with a week of free skiing. Toyota picks up the bill for the lift tickets, you just have to make the 700-mile roundtrip drive to Chewelah and back.

This year’s free skiing week is April 7-13.

More info: ski49n.com

SEASON PASS DEALS

This spring is the best time of year to purchase next year’s season pass. Many ski areas will sell you next year’s pass at a deep discount and even let you use it for the rest of this season. Ski enough and you might have it paid off before the lifts close for the year. Check the website of your favorite ski area to see when the offers begin.

STUNT DITCH WITH CLASS

White Pass is dusting off its half pipe for a low-key competition called Stunt Ditch on April 12. The crew that built the Rhythm ‘N’ Bruise course the last three years (this event is canceled at White Pass this season) is constructing the pipe and plans to place features inside the pipe.

“It’s a fun event for our younger crowd,” said White Pass spokeswoman Kathleen Goyette.

The same day, the ski area hosts High Class at White Pass, a wine-tasting event featuring winegrowers from the Yakima Valley. The event will include an auction to raise money for a 2,000-square-foot Ski Patrol clinic. The ski area hopes to raise $500,000 and had raised $87,000 through February.

More info: skiwhitepass.com

RETRO FOOLS DAY

On April 12, you can plunk down $25 ($20 for kids) and enter the Retro Fools Day slalom race at Stevens Pass. You get a shirt and time deductions based on the age of your gear.

More info: stevenspass.com

SKI-STER SUNDAY

Crystal Mountain and Mount Baker have there own ways of celebrating Easter, and both involve chairlifts.

Crystal Mountain hosts a mountaintop nondenominational church service Easter morning before the slopes open. The gondola starts hauling visitors up to the service at 5:30 a.m.

Once the mountain opens at 9 a.m., skiers and snowboards can race down the mountain trying to catch a skiing Easter Bunny with pockets full of candy. The Alpine Inn hosts an afternoon egg hunt. Parents must supply the eggs.

On April 19, the day before Easter, Mount Baker staffers hide eggs throughout the resort for its annual Golden Egg Hunt. The eggs are stuffed with thousands of dollars in prizes.

More info: crystalmountainresort.com, mtbaker.us

BIKINI AND BOARD SHORTS DOWNHILL

Tired of clothes slowing you down when you hit the slopes? Then this is the event for you. Win the April 20 Bikini and Board Shorts downhill at Crystal Mountain and you’ll win a free lift ticket to ski fully clothed all next season.

The only rules for the race: You have to be 18 or older and you have to wear a bathing suit.

More info: crystalmountainresort.com

POND SKIMMING

There’s an art to pond skimming. First, you need to wear the most ridiculous costume you can find.

Second, bring the widest pair of skis you can find.

Third, get lots of speed as you careen down the mountain toward the crowd-lined pond. Then hope you make it all the way across without taking a frigid bath.

The Summit at Snoqualmie held its first pond skim in more than a decade last season. It went so well, it’s bringing it back Saturday.

Ski Bluewood near Dayton has pond skim as part of its March 30 Bluewood Bash. You can also try your luck at Stevens Pass on April 20 or Mount Hood Meadows on April 26.

More info: summitatsnoqualmie.com, bluewood.com, stevenspass.com and skihood.com.

PARK SKIING

Recent snow has produced tons of fresh powder in the mountains, but it’s also created high avalanche risks and made it hard for national park workers to keep roads open.

But for those with backcountry skills and equipment, the slopes around Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park and Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park offer more than just good skiing and riding. It’s also considerably cheaper ($15 per car) than visiting a ski resort.

Of course, the bargain price means you won’t get the benefit of a chairlift. There are three surface lifts at Hurricane Ridge, but using them will cost as much as $32 per person for the day.

More info: hurricaneridge.com, nps.gov/mora

Craig Hill: 253-597-8497 craig.hill@thenewstribune.com thenewstribune.com/outdoors theolympian.com/outdoors @AdventureGuys

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