[sponsored by Alyeska Resort]
Thank goodness for the sun-drenched, corn ski thrills of the bittersweet ides of AK April.
The 15-hour spring days don’t hurt either…
Forget soft snowpack and UV lens; April at Alyeska Resort means Spring Carnival and its signature weekend event, the oft bamboozling SLUSH CUP. Three-part tradition, and one-part bravado, this annual occasion is an AK ski mainstay.
“Spring Carnival is something we look forward to every year here at Alyeska,” said Ben Napolitano, Alyeska Resort Mountain Marketing Manager. “We host the event over the season’s second to last weekend so lots of people come out to ski and enjoy the beginning of spring.”
Spring Carnival (or simply Slush Cup as it’s colloquially known) rounds out the Alyeska snow calendar and, as far as ski season finales go, its events rate strong interest from traveling thrill seekers and live-it-up locals. Beginning April 13th, 2018, the 41st annual Spring Carnival marks three straight days of live music, floro-clad crowds, and ski shenanigans.
Vibrant trio, Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons provide musical pulse to Slush Cup, playing a tri-fecta gig at Alyeska’s legendary Sitzmark Bar & Grill venue. Their unique take on rock ‘n roll flare caps day-long Friday and Saturday event scheduling that takes place in plain sight of the Sitz outer decking and beside an entire carpark reserved for food truck delicacies.
Festivities spark to flame with Friday’s costume contest. Competition might be tight but inhibitions are loose during this one-off Alyeska event, and the vivacious ensembles make for fantastic people watching over the next 48 hours of day and night activities. With fancy dress firmly in place, and crowds gearing up for fun, thoughts naturally next turn to Saturday.
Undoubtedly the most nefarious of the weekend long dates, Saturday sees Alaska Airlines Slush Cup unfurled in yahoo-glory. The event is a not to be missed and undeniably takes lead as both most photographic as well as most gob-smacking of all weekend diversions.
An optimistic field of 50 costume clad, wildcat souls brave the frigid water of a snow-carved ‘pond’ at the base of Mount Alyeska where, before a visiting audience of thousands, contestants first launch then skim (or try to) from one watery end to the other. The even larger sea of onlookers cheers each rider to up the ante of the last. Backflip-to-skim starts seem the staple of the day, with the ultimate goal being a complete pond slide. And the awards are well worth the stakes.
Attention grabbing prize packs include open tickets for two from Alaska Airlines, Apple gear, summer motor home rentals, and an Alyeska Resort season pass for 2018/19 winter season—ample reasons to set controls to ‘full send.’
Sunday on the other hand, quietly waits as a local’s favorite. Swarming weekend crowds seem somewhat tamed post Saturday night celebration, lending a lively yet peace-able air to the day’s downhill bike race, Dummy Downhill and Xtratuf Tug ‘o War events. Bikes zoom from top of the tram to the Alyeska Daylodge while following activities take place within casual view of the Sitzmark decking. Tug ‘o War, specifically, repurposes yesterday’s Slush Cup chasm by pitting teams in tourney fashion over a much smaller but equally cold ‘pond.’
Dummy Downhill, another spring season icon among ski communities, is a lively spectacle humorously pitting dummy sponsors in a match of style, grace, and distance. Backyard construction schemes create projectile-esque ‘dummies’ which are then pushed into a pitched descent which (hopefully) ends in airtime off the lip of a waiting jump. Dummy variety is near limitless, trajectories unpredictable, and the prizes hefty.
While the catapulting–and crashing–of a flaming yellow biplane piloted by manikins is a natural crowd pleaser, the following Xtratuf Tug ‘o War event was perhaps the next best scene to the previous day’s Alaska Airlines Slush Cup. Energetic supporters gathered in thick bands to border a modest stretch of water over which each ‘war’ was pulled.
Fun and laughter were the event’s main themes, but teams (and fans) displayed great pride for top-notch performance.
The underscored excellence of Sunday’s ‘war’ was that while only one team could be champion, truly all went home a winners, albeit wet.
And speaking of liquid, there’s no better way to wash down a truly all-time weekend than with Alyeska’s beverage version of the Great White Buffalo. Though not found on any menu, the intriguing intricacy of this mountain-centered mystery beverage is no secret. It’s a lock-and-key libation to Girdwood‘s skiing society, and it can’t be known unless one goes to ski Mount Alyeska.
Highlighting Alyeska Resort’s 2nd to final weekend of the 2017/’18 ski season, Slush Cup and Spring Carnival transform tucked-away Girdwood into a social epicenter of all Southcentral Alaska. Locals and travelers plan their close of season calendars around the three days of events, friends, and music.
“The events have all grown,” Napolitano said. “Expect large crowds.”