2015 Dillon Ice Melt champ Kelly Maike wins $4,000 with April 20 guess | SummitDaily.com

2015 Dillon Ice Melt champ Kelly Maike wins $4,000 with April 20 guess

The Dillon Marina crew after retrieving the Dillon Ice Melt device near the Snake River inlet of Lake Dillon on April 28. The device occasionally drifts hundreds of yards after slipping through the lake ice.
Special to the Daily |

Weird winters

The Dillon Ice Melt device slipped through the lake’s surface for the 30th time on April 20. It was the second-earliest result for the annual Rotary Club fundraiser. A look at the unpredictable past 15 years:

2015 — April 20

2014 — May 7

2013 — May 20

2012 — April 11 (earliest date)

2011 — May 23

2010 — May 16

2009 — May 5

2008 — May 20

2007 — May 3

2006 — May 2

2005 — May 11

2004 — April 29

2003 — May 15

2002 — April 28

2001 — May 9

2000 — May 11

It’s official: The Dillon Ice Melt device slipped through the glossy, rapidly disappearing sheet of ice on Lake Dillon a little past high noon on April 20, making it the second-earliest finish in the fundraiser’s 30-year history.

Kelly Maike, a Summit County local since 1982, took home the top prize of $4,000 with a guess of 12:30:55 p.m. When the Dillon Marina crew pulled the device from the lake on April 28, they found he was off from the official time of 12:30:48 p.m. by just 7 seconds.

Second and third place went to Joanne Sprouse and Lucinda Burns, who were both off by exactly 18 seconds. The tie-breaker came down to the estimated temperature — 40 degrees on April 20 — with Sprouse coming out ahead to win $2,000. Burns took home $1,000.

Maike’s guess wasn’t quite the tightest finish ever, but it’s by far one of the strangest. Since the inaugural Ice Melt event in 1986, the device has plunged into the lake during April only four times, with the earliest coming on April 11 in 2012 — another oddly warm and snowless season on par with this winter.

This year, it was placed near the middle of the lake on March 21, a bluebird day when slushy floes were already forming on the lakefront.

The device typically falls through in early or mid-May, and longtime guessers have countless strategies to pinpoint exactly when and why it will dunk: snow conditions, weather patterns, algorithms based on past winners.

Yet no one was quite sure when the ice would finally crack this spring, even Maike. The career carpenter has entered the contest every year since it was founded by the Rotary Club of Summit County, and this year marks the first and only time he’s won.

“I just try to go with my gut,” Maike said of his strategy. “You look at the lake a little bit, but you’re really just shooting from the hip.”

If anything, Maike went with a “more is better” approach, buying 30 tickets for $100. He staggered his guesses across different dates and times, all of which were in April. He knew one thing was for sure: The device’s large, heavy metal drum wouldn’t be dry come May.

“That lake was just gone this year,” Maike says. “It was warm, it was starting to make a move already and I’d been out there fishing a few times, thinking that ice just wasn’t going to last.”

All told, the club sold more than 3,000 tickets this year. The total funds haven’t been tallied yet, but in 2014 the annual fundraiser collected roughly $18,000 dollars to support community projects and the club’s charitable fund.

“This is one of our main fundraisers for the club,” says Rotarian Diane Monaghan, lead organizer for the Ice Melt event. “The club funds a bunch of projects, everything from exchange students to reading projects to a community dinner — there are just a ton of community events we support. All of these proceeds go into a pool of money for a lot of different projects, not just one.”

And now, with an extra $4,000 in his pocket, what are Mainke’s plans? Simple: the ’69 Camaro he’s currently restoring.

“I might buy some Camaro parts, I don’t know,” Maike laughs. “I want to finally restore my ’69 — I’ve had that car longer than my wife.”

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