AP NEWS

As snow melts, Santa Fe skiers say goodbye to season

April 15, 2019

Superman couldn’t make the ski leap over the 65-foot body of cold water. Neither could Superwoman on a snowboard. Nor Scooby-Doo.

And the guy who dressed up like a banana didn’t peel over it easily, despite repeated attempts.

But quite a few others, including some wearing nothing but swimsuits and skivvies, easily navigated skis or snowboards across the man-made pond in the Slush Cup competition at Ski Santa Fe.

The combination of costumes and water sports is what makes the last day of the ski season in Santa Fe special, said many visitors hitting the slopes for one last outing on Sunday.

Some were dressed as lions and tigers and bears and superheroes and vampires. There was a guy in a chicken suit and some people of both genders who were showing more skin than you might, uh, imagine, for a snow-swept ski basin.

“It’s the last day to do this,” said Jim Attlebey, who with his daughter Ella and friend Katie Maccaulay was clad in leopard pajamas. “We can celebrate a good year of skiing, thank the mountain and see good friends who we won’t see again until next year.”

With 280 inches-plus landing on the mountain even before Friday’s snowfall, Ski Santa Fe officials said the combination of snow, skiers and snowboarders made the 2018-19 season the fifth best in the past 25 years. (The National Weather Service in Albuquerque says the region may see snow in areas 7,500 feet and higher again on Tuesday and Wednesday.)

And this year’s stellar season was much better than last year’s dismal, slushy showing of a mere 80 inches all season. So much so that this year Ski Santa Fe stayed open two weeks later than usual and scheduled the Slush Cup, which was canceled last year for lack of snow.

It’s become a tradition for many Ski Santa Fe visitors to dress in costumes on the last day of the season, making Sunday look like a Halloween on the Mountain shindig. Another tradition, the Slush Cup, draws hearty souls of all ages willing to brave the cold water — 30 to 35 degrees, by various estimates — of the 65-by-18 foot rectangular pond to prove they can ski or snowboard across it. About 100 people signed up for that contest Sunday.

One key to making that work, Slush Cup judge Kate Robinson said, is speed.

“It’s a problem to speed check to slow yourself down,” she said as she watched another hapless participant smoothly skim his way about three quarters of the length of the pond before he took a dunk. “You have to be going 25, 30 miles per hour when you hit the water.”

Some contestants didn’t give a darn about winning and simply wanted to show off, like the guy who immediately did a somersault (dubbed “a tame dog” by the judges) into the pond rather than try to make it across, or the guy who performed a 180-degree twist right before hitting the water and then fell backward into the depths.

Judges actually give extra points for these aerial antics, Robinson said — one reason several snowboarders tried traversing the pond backwards from the start.

Santa Fean Ed Hernandez, who was dressed like a banana with a cape sporting a zia symbol, tried and failed several times to make it across the water on his snowboard early in the roughly three-hour competition.

“I was too far back when I hit the water,” he said, drops of water running down his banana-skin costume. “So when I hit the water, I flew back and went in.”

Meanwhile, Ben Wilson of Santa Fe also took the plunge about three quarters of the way over, struggling to then to keep his red, white and blue trunks on. He cited his failure as “lack of experience” but said he would contemplate doing it again.

Norbu Francis, a Santa Fe man who proudly wore a bikini top and matching bottom, tried the Slush Cup again and again, sometimes making it across, sometimes not. “I have nothing else better to do,” he explained after pulling himself out of the dunk at one point.

Fans, friends, family members and other people with nothing better to do lined the two sides along the competition slope, cheering, clapping and videotaping the snowy shenanigans.

Spectator Sierra Sandoval of Santa Fe said she loves the competition.

“It brings unity to Santa Fe, it brings our people together — friends, family — we’re all having a great time,” she said.

Slush Cup winners receive such prizes as trophies and gift passes to nearby Ten Thousand Waves spa, where the water is much warmer. The first place winner was 22-year-old Sascha Seebeck.

Those who watched earned something equally warm — smiles and a lot of laughs.