Dylan Anderson: Cut your jean shorts with a handsaw (with video) | SteamboatToday.com

Dylan Anderson: Cut your jean shorts with a handsaw (with video)

Return of Rat Lake pond skim to close out the season at Howelsen Hill needs to happen again

Pilot & Today Reporter Dylan Anderson at the closing day of Howelsen Hill on Sunday, March 26, 2023.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The best way to cut jean shorts is with a handsaw.

The rough cut leaves that perfect imperfect edge. Have one person hold each side of where you want to make the cut, and then just slowly saw them off — it’s really that simple.

The jean shorts were a significant part of my gaper attire at Howelsen Hill’s closing day festivities over the weekend. I was going for a bit of a lumberjack vibe, a Paul Bunyan on skis, so to speak.

I figured I was going out on a bit of a limb, but soon found out many of my fellow Steamboaters were way more creative.

My favorites were either the guy dressed as a lion tamer who whipped the water as he glided across so-called Rat Lake, or the kid wearing a pair of oversized underwear as a shirt that said “Vail sucks.” It does indeed suck.

I had never done a pond skim before, and have only ventured down the ski bum character path seriously this winter. My skis kind of stink too. When I got them off of Craigslist in 2012, all my friends were park rats, so naturally they are park skis without much width.

With No. 31 pinned to my shirt, I kept enjoying the last day at Howelsen, figuring that the pond skim would end the skiing.

My preparation for the pond skim included a tweet asking for advice that didn’t receive many serious responses, a vague description of what a pond skim was to my mom so she wouldn’t worry about me getting hurt, and a chat with a skiing legend who gave me some advice.

“As you hit the water, make sure you lower your center of gravity and sit back as far as you can on your skis without falling backwards,” Park Smalley, a pioneer of freestyle skiing and a Steamboat Springs icon, told me last week. “Hang on the back of those boots and then just keep your eyes up and look toward the other end of the pond instead of looking down at the water.”

It turned out to be pretty great advice. Like most of the skiers, I made it across with minimal drenching. The snowboarders were struggling a bit more. It is hard to find an edge in the water after all.

In exchange for the advice, I did promise Smalley half the winning check should I come out the victor. Sorry, Park, I didn’t win.

Still, it was a really great day. Shout out to the Howelsen Hill staff, parks and recreation team and the city of Steamboat Springs in general for making it happen.

Howelsen Hill is a treasure. I got a season pass for about 20% of the cost of an Ikon pass, hit up the night skiing after work at the paper several times, and made it to almost every Ski Free Sunday.

Speaking of Ski Free Sunday, it has been shared beyond the valley this year. I would frequently run into Front Range folks on the lift, statewide publications have been writing about it and it was even mentioned in a New York Times travel story in January.

Now that it’s over, I still feel like I took it for granted.

But, alas, next season is right around the corner, and I’m told pressure is already mounting to make sure the Rat Lake skim or swim returns for Howelsen’s closing day next year. Consider me part of that effort, because Sunday was too much fun not to happen again.

Thanks for a great year, Howelsen Hill. Next season can’t come soon enough.

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