It’s not hard to become the pope, at least for a run down West Mountain.
A curtain altered by a co-worker’s grandmother, a scarf and some cardboard to make the papal mitre was all it took for Addam Butler to transform himself for the snowboard ride down the slope Saturday. His ride ended with a splash into a pool of water at the bottom, which drew thunderous applause and laughter from hundreds assembled for the annual Slush Cup.
Skiers and snowboarders took turns going down the mountain and then trying to skim across a 30-foot stretch of frigid water. The crowd cheered and clapped for the few who made it across, while saving their most enthusiastic response for the swimmers.
Butler’s splash, right after making the Sign of the Cross, was one of the fan favorites.
His crash was partially due to only recently returning to snowboarding.
“I couldn’t quite bomb down the hill like everybody else,” Butler said. “I had to take it a little slower.”
The result was a freezing bath that he didn’t expect.
“I lost my breath immediately,” he said. “I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t unsnap my bindings.”
The emcee for the event, Kris Vanderzee of Queensbury, said costumes and crashes are what the event is all about. He noted the oversized wigs and the Easter bunny as some of his favorite costumes.
“It’s an end-of-the-year tradition,” said Vanderzee.
Friends and acquaintances were among a few hundred people who showed up. From his post overlooking the event, Vanderzee was heckling people by name and even encouraging the crowd to throw snowballs.
The event was a return to the mountain for “Wild Bill” Montgomery of Cleverdale.
“This mountain is very near and dear,” he said. “I hope it stays here for many years to come.”
Montgomery skied down the mountain in shorts and a T-shirt, with seemingly no aversion to the cold water. He was so unfazed by his first splash that he belly-flopped back in to retrieve another swimmer’s skis, to the delight of the crowd.
The costume worn by Dave Winters of Massachusetts was a last-minute idea inspired by his girlfriend, who lives in Saratoga Springs.
“I happened to have a horse mask in my truck, so I thought, ‘Why not?’ ” he said.
Before the competition began, though, the horse mask didn’t seem such a great idea, as it was blinding. Despite cutting an eye hole, he said it was almost impossible to see anything.
After the Splash Cup was over, children and a handful of adults competed in the cardboard derby. Halfway up the mountain, competitors piled into cardboard sleds, which were designed to look like tanks, race cars or just colored cardboard.
The race was a shambles, with most sleds swerving off course or stopping.
After all the events were completed, awards were handed out for best costumes, presentations, splashes, farthest across the pond and the winners of the cardboard derby.