Skiing

Skiers and snowboarders make waves during Alyeska’s Slush Cup

slush cup, alyeska, girdwood, spring

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, crowds of people gathered in Girdwood to watch the 43rd annual Slush Cup at Alyeska Resort on Saturday afternoon.

Lining both sides of Christmas run — and from nearby chairlifts, roofs and hills — spectators cheered on 60 skiers and snowboarders as the competitors jumped, flipped and skimmed across a pool of 36-degree water.

Jonny Hammond, dressed as Evel Knievel, crashed into the pool with such force that it cut open the tarp under the pool, which sent water funneling out. He subsequently won the award for best crash.

Cass Keelean won the award for biggest air and Sean Higgins placed first, followed by Cache Bridges in second and Jasper Rygh in third place. Prizes included a pair of skis from Powder Hound, an iPhone 13 from GCI, Alaska Airlines tickets and an Alyeska Resort season pass.

Ben Napolitano, director of marketing at Alyeska Resort, estimated that the event –– along with the resort’s Spring Festival –– saw between 5,000 and 7,000 visitors.

slush cup, alyeska, girdwood, spring
slush cup, alyeska, girdwood, spring
slush cup, alyeska, girdwood, spring

Rel Berisha heard of the event from his host dad, who used to work at Alyeska, Berisha said.

Berisha, originally from Germany, has been an au pair in Maine for the past eight months and was on vacation to Alaska with his host family. He’d only been skiing five or six times before attempting this year’s Slush Cup.

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While drying off, he described his level of fear heading into the contest. “I don’t know if I’m made for this, I don’t know if I should do this and my insurance is not the best ... but it was good.”

slush cup, alyeska, girdwood, spring

For competitor Julia Savage, this year’s Slush Cup was another fun outdoor adventure before beginning medical school this summer.

“It’s really fun to be back and to be doing this and celebrating with everyone,” she said.

Although the annual event celebrates the onset of spring, the top of the mountain received 13 inches of snow overnight, bringing this season’s total to 809 inches, Napolitano said.

The last time they reached above 800 inches was around 2012, Napolitano added.

Sunday will be the last day of daily operations.

The mountain will be open on the weekends 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. through May 15. Lift tickets are based on midweek pricing, Napolitano said. In addition, season pass holders for the 2022-23 season will be honored for May skiing and snowboarding.

Emily Mesner

Emily Mesner is a multimedia journalist for the Anchorage Daily News. She previously worked for the National Park Service at Denali National Park and Preserve and the Western Arctic National Parklands in Kotzebue, at the Cordova Times and at the Jackson Citizen Patriot in Jackson, Michigan.

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