Winter Park: Nobody stays dry on Spring Splash Day
April 11, 2008
“Swimmer, take your mark …”
I was wedged in the starting gate backward, so I couldn’t even look down the obstacle course that I was about to negotiate on a snowboard. To make matters worse, the gatekeeper shoved me out of the gates (a Spring Splash tradition) and I fell, losing any speed I might have had heading into the Bamboo Forest, which tossed me downhill like a Powerbar wrapper.
Frogging back up to the Forest, I grabbed at the bamboo poles and pulled myself through, only to accelerate into the Tunnel of Love, bust through the Green Bay Linebackers, dance around the Mushroom Patch, and finally arrive at the Point of No Return, where, by this time, I was heaving with exertion.
I tucked down a long steep hill, leaned back and skimmed across Lovely Lake Louise to a second place finish.
I won $150 in cash and I didn’t even have to get wet.
I became a Splash addict.
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I am normally sane and into self preservation, unless it is the last day of the ski season at Winter Park Resort. Then I do something completely illogical that scares the daylights out of me: I compete in the annual Spring Splash.
Since that Splash, I have taken first once and third twice, but it is the two that hurt the
most that I remember the best. I raced one Splash with a monster hangover, dressed in a belly dance costume. (Crazy costumes, fake leis or Dayglo ski outfits are key to crowd appeal, but may not be the most speedy way to get down the course.) I caught my gauze skirt on fencing and wasted at least 30 seconds getting myself free, only to sink to the bottom of the pond with the weight of my coin skirt.
Spring Splash 2007 had me winning the race with a smooth run, but there was a big kicker before the pond. My plan was to tuck from the Point of No Return and suck up the jump to keep from flying too high.
The only problem, while I was sailing through the atmosphere, I forgot to decompress, and when I hit the water, I crunched so hard that my knee went into my chin and nearly knocked me out. The crowd yelled for me to swim across the finish line, but I was so out of it I swam the wrong way.
Finally the guys in wetsuits felt sorry for me and towed me across the finish line. I remember walking around the base village, not knowing where I was or why I was wet.
And so, I have sworn off competing in future Spring Splash obstacle course races, and I am putting this down in writing in case my niece and nephew beg me to do it with them again next year.
I want to be one of the people in the crowd, cheering on the ones who are young enough and dumb enough to sign up.
On April 13, 2008, I’ll have dry snowboard boots and a beer in my hand, while I take pictures of others making complete fools of themselves.
So, join me at the base of Winter Park (and bring an umbrella) to watch one of the funniest ski races known to man, the 40th annual Coca-Cola Classic Spring Splash, followed by live music and swag giveaways.
And if you see me headed for the Spring Splash registration desk, please tackle me, wrap me in duct tape and remove me from the premises.
For more information on the festive annual event, call (970) 726-5514 or visit winterparkresort.com.