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Saturday, March 2, 2002 - Sunday, March 3, 2002 -- McHenry, MD
Winter Blast Weekend (iPO Event Id#: 4889)
Story and photos by Don Parks

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6] [Set 7] [Set 8] [Set 9]
Set 1: Turtle Race; Set 2-3: Kids Slalom; Set 3-8: Big Air;
Set 8: Bump Contest; Set 8-9: Pond Crossing

Pond Crossing
And the Ski Patrol makes sure the water is safe
Winter Blast at Wisp was as much fun to watch as it was to participate, and maybe even more. Sure the Turtle Race was fun for all ages, but water skiing on a frigid March afternoon isn't really for everyone. It looked like a lot of fun for those that skimmed the 100 foot "pond" successfully, but those that came up short paid the consequences.

We also caught up with the acrobatics of the Big Air competition, the thrill of victory in the Kids Slalom Race, and the tortuous runs in the Bump Competition. And we didn't even get to all the events!

Part of what we didn't catch was the conclusion of the Ford Big Air Series skier and boarder cross. The series final was held on Saturday with Danny Ellis looking to make it four-for-four in skier cross. Even though he got knocked out early in a big pileup, and the win went to Lee Railey, his previous three victories were plenty to award him the overall series title.

Turtle Racing
Oh, so that's a Turtle Race
In boarder cross, it was once again Mark Nestor taking the win and easily wrapping up the series title.

Moving back to Sunday, it was time to decide the champions in the Big Air. The weather turned brutal as a mix of cold rain and wind quickly turned to snow. Throw in some serious vert at the top of two huge ramps, and you just knew it was going to be huge trouble. Lucky the snow was still soft from the earlier mild temps.

Probably the scariest move of the afternoon was Nate Councell's inadvertent backflip. Too bad he only made it halfway around, which meant a headfirst landing. Everyone was able to breathe a sigh of relief as he got up under his own power. And a quick trip to the hospital for x-rays revealed no serious damage.

Kids Race
The Kids Slalom gets them racing early
For those that survived, top honors on the board went to the always impressive Mark Nestor in the 16 and over boarders, and Josh Harris in the 15 and under. This also gave Nestor another series title and a huge take in the prize department.

For the skiers, there were more familiar names at the top of the scorer sheets with Taylor Glotfelty getting the 17 and over win and the series title. For the 16 and under it was another win for Tom Wallisch.

After taking in the big air show, and cringing at the carnage, we ventured into the moguls for a Bump Competition. The competitors were wincing at the incredibly difficult run they were faced with, but it was the same for everyone.

Big Air
Reaching new heights in Big Air
Making the most of the difficult test was Brian Kellermeyer who manage a clean run with a little freestyle air thrown in. Taking second and third were Doug Webster and John Baker, respectively.

The final act of the day was the much anticipated Pond Crossing. The snow had stopped falling and the sun was sneaking a peak every now and then. But the temperature had dropped through the day and a gusty wind didn't help matters any. This just made the goal of crossing the 100 foot long pool of icy water that much more desirable. For those that ended up taking the unwanted swim, there were more than enough safety personnel ready and waiting for the rescue.

Pond Crossing
Will he make it?
As the first daring souls readied for their attempt, the crowd buzzed. This was the longest the "pond" had ever been, and many doubted if anyone would make it the whole 100 feet without a cold bath. First to test the water was going to be Mark Nestor, certainly a skilled snowboarder... but on water?

Gaining speed down the approach the large crowd that gathered shivered with anticipation (or maybe just because it was so frikin' freezing out!) Swooosh... splash... zzzzzip... bam, save and dry on the opposite end of the pond. He made it practically look easy and the crowd cheered with approval.

Well, how about we try this with someone on skis? Swooosh... splash... zzzzzip... bam, another clean run. Amazing, was it really just that easy. Not hardly!

Pond Crossing
This could be trouble!
With over 25 brave individuals prepared to give it a shot, less than half made a successful trip. The rest did variations on splashing the crowd, diving head first, or slowly sinking. And the safety crew was always quick to hang out the life line as the eager swimmers quickly grabbed on to be dragged out of the icy pool. Owe what a show it was.

Taking home awards for their efforts were skiers Bart Simpson, Josh Fratz, and Dale Carpenter, and boarders Josh Harris, Matt Walker, and John Comer. You know they'll all be back to try it again at next year's Winter Blast, and you won't want to miss it!