Reporting Jay Lloyd
The snow is turning soft under a sun that rises higher in the sky as each day marches closer to spring. It’s getting warmer and somehow, even when standing on skis or boards on a mountain summit, there’s a tinge of the Jersey Shore. It’s the aroma; everyone is slathered with sun screen. Welcome to the world of “spring skiing.” Turns are more graceful and the descent is a bit slower and more tranquil, as the snow is more forgiving. The month of March and the closing days of another ski season also jump starts some carnival hi-jinks – everything from clown suits to tailgate parties. Here’s what you can expect to find between here and the Poconos. – Jay Lloyd
Camelback Mountain pulls out all the stops for the transition to spring. It’s fueled by a food-filled tailgate party, a cardboard box derby on the snow and daredevil pond skimming. Never saw pond skimming? Get ready to howl. Skiers and riders try to get up enough speed running down a slope to skim across a chilly pond. Those that run out of steam get a cold dunking — much to the delight of the crowd. It’s all part of the carnival atmosphere on March 23rd and 24th. To find out how to get in on the action, visit: www.skicamelback.com/Camelback-Mountain/Winter-Events.aspx
Time to go attic surfing and dredge up your ancient ski gear, including those old multi-colored wind shirts, skin-tight ski pants and long forgotten reindeer sweaters. This is how to dress for the Jack Frost Mountain “Retro Bump Bash,” which sort of explains itself. Retro outfits accent a bump skiing competition on soft moguls. There’ll be prizes for the best on the bumps, as well as the best retro look. It all happens on Sunday, March 10th. Registration is at 10:30 a.m. with first runs at 11:30. There’s an outdoor barbie for burgers and dogs and indoor entertainment with a panoramic view of the snow from a perch at the lively E-2000 bar. For more info, traverse over to: www.jfbb.com/event-calendar.html?id=5411
Want some free skiing? To kick off a spring carnival, Shawnee Mountain in the eastern Poconos is handing out free lift tags for anyone who gets into the spirit and shows up to the slopes in a full costume. Let your imagination run wild and try for a spring skiing theme. It might help you snag a prize after the big Sunday costume parade on March 17th. To get an idea of what qualifies, visit: www.shawneemt.com/events-activities/costumecarnivalday.html
Located 17 miles north of Allentown, Blue Mountain is holding a high stakes freestyle competition for the final blast of winter on Saturday, March 16th. Anyone with the skills can enter the “Spring Jib Session” to be held on the “Vista” slope. It’s open to skiers and snow surfers with top prizes of $750. Adults and youngsters are eligible to compete in three divisions; the third is for the 15 and under crowd. Pick your game and check out the registration at: www.skibluemt.com/the-mountain/events-calendar/master-2012-2013/spring-jib-session/?m=3&d=16&y=2013
Get your creative side in gear and build the most eye-catching cardboard box sled imaginable. Then enter it in the “Spring Fling Weekend” at Bear Creek Mountain Resort in nearby Berks County. The Derby racers will be coming down the mountain on Saturday, March 16. To wrap up the event, the pond skimmers get a chance at either a soaking or a bit of glory on Sunday, March 17th. Prizes go to winners all around. Between the races and the skimming, the outdoor Tiki Bar will be serving up drink specials and live music to drive the fun.
There’s an old saying that’s as true today as it was when first coined: “Ski areas run out of skiers before they run out of snow.” Even in the Montgomery County section of our winter banana belt, the snow will still be on the hill at Spring Mountain long after the sliders have vanished. But it won’t go to waste. Spring Mountain is hosting a Snowmobile Association competition on March 16th and 17th. If you’ve never seen these hybrid motorcycle/ski/sleds in action, here’s the chance. Spectators are welcome. You may even get the bug.
Some tips for spring skiing: Carry and use a good sunscreen, and be prepared for ever-changing weather. Dress in easily shed and stored layers. Do not attach your lift ticket to a parka. The best place to attach it is on lightweight snow pants. They stay put, while the parka will likely go as the day warms.