BARTLETT — Thanks to the whims of Mother Nature, what on Saturday had been expected to be Attitash Mountain Resort's 2013-2014 swansong – the annual Pond Skim competition — was instead the start of the ski area's extended spring operations.
Under bright blue skies filled with abundant sunshine and with temperatures in the upper 40s, Attitash saw more than 75 competitors enter the Pond Skim, which was held on the Lower Ptarmigan trail and which required skiers and snowboarders to traverse a man-made pond without falling in.
Those competitors who made it safely across returned for another round but each subsequent rotation saw the distance between them and the pond get shorter as the starting line kept moving progressively downhill and closer to the pond.
Hundreds of onlookers lined Lower Ptarmigan and many more stopped on the adjacent Moat trail to watch, all of which made Thomas Prindle, the director of marketing for Attitash Mountain Resort and Wildcat Mountain, very happy.
"We had all ages, men and women, skiers and snowboarders," said Prindle as the would-be pond skimmers tried their luck. Some attempted the pond crossing in costumes — there was a Bat Man, a soldier, even a businessman in a three-piece suit — and one competitor wore American-flag swim trunks and an inflatable, yellow frog flotation ring.
There was much laughter during the competition and also much applause for everyone whether he or she made it over the pond.
"People are pretty excited for spring, but this is something that they look forward to," Prindle said of the Pond Skim, which for many years signaled the end of the current ski season. However, because the resort received copious amounts of snow this season, the pond skim is just another event before the actual closing, which could be as late as April 6, depending on the weather.
Even though Attitash's end is in sight, Prindle said Wildcat will continue to roar well into April.
This year, for what would be the eighth consecutive season, Wildcat is poised to be the last ski resort in New Hampshire to offer lift-service skiing.
Popularly known as "The King of Spring," Wildcat got off to a slow start this season, said Prindle, but it has picked up steam since then and will again serve as the venue for Attitash loyalists who just don't want to let winter go. Attitash has had "a very good season," he said, and the conditions as of Saturday merited the extension until this Sunday.