Pond Scum: A Memoir

I have a confession to make: I’ve never been pond skimming. The age-old sport of dressing up in goofy outfits and attempting to ski across water just sounds a little dicey for my taste. But because I’m curious by nature, I decided to take to the streets to interview past pond skimmers (or, as I like to think of them, Pond Scum,) and hear what it’s like to speed head-long toward a pool of water in April… and wouldn’t you know it, I found some Pond Scum just across the hall from my very own office. Nora McCormack. Station Manager for Outside TV. Intrepid snowboarder and proud Sunday River local. Also? Totally nuts.

Nora’s pond skimming experience went down in ’98. She was an 87-pound 8th grader with big dreams of skimming her way to glory, and showed up to the event in true 90s Scum form, wearing Adidas break-away pants and a tankini top. So grunge.

It takes more than hope to buoy an 87-pounder across a pond, though, and for all her grand designs, Nora only made it halfway across. I can only imagine what expletives went through her little 8th grade head as she sunk, deeper and deeper in to the icy murkiness of the very pond she’d hoped to dominate. Her dreams were dashed. It was time to go home.

Nora '98

This is where things get dark. Nora’s parents had driven her to the event and were waiting with a dry towel and open arms as she exited the arena in defeat, and she expected to climb into their warm car and go home. Alas—her parents didn’t want their car’s backseat sullied by her wet tush. She was told to take the lift back to their condo at Fall Line.

Shocked, 87-pound Nora left her soaked towel with her parents and stumbled away, wearing only dripping break-away pants and a saturated tankini top. She took the chairlift to the summit. It was cold.

Really cold.

Nora straight-lined it for her condo, ditched her board, and jumped into the condo’s hot tub still wearing her boots. Usually the type to overheat in 5 minutes and head for the pool, Nora huddled in that hot tub for over half an hour. She was—I think—mildly hypothermic.

She’s never been pond skimming again.

When she was done relaying her tale of woe, I asked if she had any words of wisdom for young Pond Scum just starting out. She got a far-away look in her eyes. “If you must skim, don’t take the lift afterwards,” she said, “and wear a wetsuit.”

She continued to mutter as I walked out of the room, vowing to never pond skim in all my days. I looked back to see her hugging her knees, rocking back and forth, and staring off into space. “No speed checks,” she whispered. “Give ‘er hell.”

If you, for some reason, feel the need to join the ranks of Pond Scum this spring, head on over to South Ridge to test your luck at Pond-A-Palooza on April 9. Participation will be limited to 100 crazy people. Costumes are strongly encouraged.

I wish you well, Pond Scum. Remember: no speed checks. And try not to take the lift home.

If you’re looking to test the fates, join us on Saturday, April 9, for Sunday River’s own Pond-A-Palooza pond skimming event.