Splash down: Cushing Crossing a spring tradition at Squaw Valley (PHOTO GALLERY)
Skiers, snowboarders and anyone else who could successfully slide on snow with proper equipment threw down their best style and costume designs at Squaw Valley’s 28th annual Cushing Crossing Saturday.
One by one, 62 contestants equipped with a helmet, flotation device, and a unique costume made their best attempt at skimming across Cushing Pond. Crowds cheered every time a successful attempt was made, cheering even louder when contestants wiped out in the water, eventually getting towed to shore by a ski patrol member waiting by in a raft.
This year the ramp into the pond was raised even farther from the water than in past years.
“It doesn’t get much bigger than this,” said judge Connery Lundin. “We saw a switch entry and a 360 switch-up, which you don’t see too often. Overall it was a really good showing.”
Contestant costumes included Ryan Faye dressed as Santa Claus, Barry Thys holding a guitar and radiating green smoke all the way down the run, a few Hawaiian dancers in hula skirts, and others dressed in animal-themed onesies.
Jenna Scolari, a soon-to-be University of Nevada Reno graduate, was the first female contestant to make it across the pond dressed in a cap and gown.
“I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do once I got to the other side,” she said. “I was just thinking about what I was going to do when I hit the water.”
Friends Jana Lane and Morgan Drew cheered with disbelief as she completed her run.
“We had no idea she was going to do it until this morning,” said friend Morgan Drew. “I don’t think I could do it; I’m too scared.”
Of the 62 competitors, only 21 were able to make it across the pond to the small patch of snow on the other side, with skiers more likely to complete the crossing than snowboarders.
Only two people competed in the Unlimited category, in which contestants can use “any apparatus that isn’t a straight forward pair of skis or snowboard.”
Max Axelrod claimed first in Unlimited by attempting the line in an ET-themed snow bike wearing a red hoodie, despite hitting the water at 38 mph and failing to make it across.
Nico Monforte was Saturday’s overall winner, with brother Sal taking first in the men’s ski category, and Jamie Burge, a former big-mountain free-skiing champion claiming first in the women’s ski category. Matt Seylor claimed first in men’s snowboarding.
“This is my favorite event,” said judge and longtime Lake Tahoe local Sherry McConkey.
“It’s the Cushing Classic and you just have to go.”
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Truckee Sun. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-550-2652.