SNOQUALMIE PASS -- It was a 6-foot-2 St. Bernard that got me started thinking about what's so great about spring skiing.
I was watching a pond-skimming competition at the Summit at Snoqualmie last weekend when the guy next to me proclaimed, "Look at this. It's beautiful. Spring skiing rules."
When I turned to offer my agreement, I found myself looking into the platter-size eyes of a massive dog. The guy in the St. Bernard costume successfully slid down the slope and surfed the pond while the crowd roared its approval.
Traditionally, crowds start to thin in April as ski areas wind down their operations, but this can be one of the best months of the season. Here's why:
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Spring is the perfect time to teach kids how to ski. With warmer weather, it's one less potential unpleasant element to worry about while the kids learn the sport. Warmer temperatures also mean you can finally check "ski in shorts" off your bucket list.
In what's rapidly becoming a spring skiing fixture in the Northwest, Crystal Mountain will stage its Bikini Downhill race Saturday. Anybody can enter the race for $15 as long as they are wearing a swimsuit. Winners get a 2013-14 season pass.
It might not be free skiing, but at several ski areas you might be able to work off the cost of next year's season pass by the end of April.
At White Pass, you can buy your 2013-14 season right now for $419 for adults and $219 for juniors. Those prices will jump $539 and $309 on June 1 and $799 and $499 in November.
Rhythm 'n' bruise
White Pass' third Rhythm 'n' Bruise competition is April 27-28.
On the website, rhythm-n-bruise.com, the event is described as "part BMX, part motocross, part mountain biking. what snowboarding in a rhythm section could be like."
A new event, the High Class at White Pass Wine Festival, is Saturday and is a benefit for the ski patrol.
Crystal Mountain will hold an amateur film night April 19 at the Snorting Elk Cellar. Visitors are encouraged to bring their short ski/snowboard films that are no longer than four minutes.
April isn't just about parties. There are plenty of serious skiing competitions too. Saturday is the finals of the Washington State Junior Freeride Championships for skiers 11 to 18 years old.
As ski technology has progressed to wider skis, the ability to complete a pond skim without getting wet has increased. If you want to give it a go, make sure you dress in the most ridiculous costume you can find. Stevens Pass will have a pond skim April 18.
The March 24 pond skim at the Summit was the resort's first in nearly a decade. It went so well, the ski area is considering staging another May 5.