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Students relish opportunity to be part of Steamboat Ski Band

The Steamboat Springs High School Ski Band makes its way down Lincoln Avenue during the annual Diamond Hitch Parade in 2010. The ski band is a longstanding Winter Carnival tradition. The high school band has marched down Lincoln Ave on skis for 84 years, a tradition started in 1935 by band conductor Jerry McGuare.
Joel Reichenberger

— Kristi Richardson remembers watching the Steamboat Springs High School Ski Band perform during the Winter Carnival as a girl and thinking that one day she would be a part of it.

The Steamboat Springs High School sophomore now is among the nearly 70 members of the Ski Band, who will set the tone for the 98th annual Winter Carnival parade at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 6.

“It’s cool,” said Richardson, who will play clarinet for the second time in the Ski Band. “It gives you the opportunity to participate in something most people don’t do.”



The high school band first appeared on skis during the Winter Carnival in 1935 to lead the parade down a snow-covered Lincoln Avenue.

Band director Jim Knapp said it was an honor for his students to participate in such an important Steamboat tradition, something they understood.



“It’s the only one,” said junior Eric Samuelson, who will play bass clarinet in his fifth Winter Carnival. “You get to say you’re in the only ski band in the world.”

Knapp said the band will have prepared for only about two weeks by the time of the parade. He said that includes practicing the music and spending some time on skis before a full rehearsal Feb. 3.

But he’s not worried. Knapp said they know the music, “Anchors Aweigh” and “Paralyzer,” an upbeat song by rock group Finger Eleven. He said they played both songs during the school’s homecoming.

And Knapp added that it’s not the first time his students have been on skis.

“Most of the kids are pretty snow savvy,” he said. “They ski or snowboard and have been doing it for a while. They’re pretty good at multitasking.”

Junior Tommy Benson said he moved to Steamboat in eighth grade just two months before the Winter Carnival and was told he would be playing his trumpet on skis, his first time.

“It was interesting,” he said. “By the end of it, I was like, ‘This is actually fun. I want to do this again.’”


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