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Cowboy Downhill brings plenty of thrills, spills to slopes of Steamboat Resort (with video)

Traditionally, the Bud Light Cowboy Downhill is full of cowboys and cowgirls ready to take on any challenge including big air, tight gates and high-speed spills. However, that’s not what brings these competitors to Steamboat Springs every January.

“The Cowboy Downhill is special because of the people,” said local cowboy legend Brent Romick. “That’s what it’s all about, you know. The competition is great, and everything else is great, but when you get to see all of these folks, that’s worth it every year.”

This year, Romick, who recently underwent back surgery, was among the thousands of spectators who came out to watch the annual event in its 48th year. He plans to be back on skis in 2024.



The fans were entertained by more than 100 cowboys and cowgirls who were in Colorado for the National Western Stock Show, taking place in Denver from Jan. 7-22. As a result, many of the competitors took a break to come to Steamboat Spring, along with plenty of Cowboy Downhill alumni and rodeo personalities.

“I think half the guys enter the National Western Stock Show just to come to the Cowboy Downhill,” said rodeo clown J.W. Winklepleck, a past participant who now comes to Steamboat to entertain the crowd. “I love being up here. There’s beautiful scenery, and they treat the cowboys so good. … It’s always fun.”



Winklepleck has been coming to Steamboat every January since the mid-1990s, and he has so many great memories of the event that it’s difficult for him to pick just one.

“When I think about the Cowboy Downhill, I think about a lot of guys that used to come here with me, and us being able to just go ski and hang out,” Winklepleck said. “Razzing each other, betting on each other in the race, and all the wrecks we took — those are probably my fondest memories.”

Winklepleck no longer competes in the actual race, but he has become notorious for getting on an inflatable tube just before the Stampede — an event where all the competitors race to the bottom at once, winner take all — and sliding into the finish area.

Rodeo queen Katie Ramos braces for a hard landing after taking flight off the jump in the middle of the Bud Light Cowboy Downhill on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, at Steamboat Resort. Needless to say, Ramos did not land on her skis at the annual event that brings cowboys and cowgirls to Steamboat Springs.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Winklepleck’s stories and those of other cowboys who have come to Steamboat Springs are often passed around the National Western Stock Show, inspiring a new generation of Cowboy Downhill competitors.

“I wanted to be a champion, so I came to the downhill,” said Tipton Wilson, a bull rider from Jackson, Wyoming. “I’ve heard about it and then National Western, and was told that it’s a lot of fun, and there are big wrecks, so you can’t beat it.”

He was joined by buddy Garrett Uptain, who grew up in Craig just an hour down the road from Steamboat. This was also his first Cowboy Downhill.

Cowboys and cowgirls endured all kinds of conditions Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, at the Bud Light Cowboy Downhill at the Steamboat Resort. Bill Tutor of Huntsville, Texas, faced plenty of snow as he made his way down the course at annual event that brings cowboys and cowgirls to Steamboat Springs while they are competing at the National Western Stock Show in Denver from Jan. 7-22.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

“I’ve seen it a bunch of years in the past, and I figured this year I just might as well put my name in the hat,” said Uptain, who placed 10th in the men’s dual slalom. “It’s fun to just give everyone a good show.”

For him, it was a chance to ski the mountain for two days and get back to his hometown in Craig, where he recently became the Colorado Northwest Community College rodeo coach.

Miss Rodeo Idaho Lydia Miller was also on hand for this year’s Cowboy Downhill.

Kris Newman, a bull rider from Casper, Wyoming, proves that he is also handy with a rope as he lassos a Steamboat Resort representative at the bottom of the Bud Light Cowboy Downhill on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

“I was fortunate enough not to crash,” said Miller, who won the women’s dual slalom. “I kind of skipped on the big jump this time, but I’m going to hit it next time in the Stampede.”

She faced Miss Rodeo Arkansas Abigail Benz in the head-to-head dual, and the two seemed to put the competition in perspective at the bottom of the hill. They had just come from the National Western Stock Show, where they spent their time signing autographs, visiting with rodeo fans and promoting the sport.

“I got to race with Lydia, so we decided to kind of take the easy way out and do the smaller jobs,” Benz said. “I guess for being from Arkansas, I think I did pretty good.”

Strawbs Jones, a bareback rider from Qeensland, Australia, tries to regain control after landing a jump during the Bud Light Cowboy Downhill on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, at Steamboat Resort.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Among those who did well were bareback rider Wyatt Denny from Minden, Nevada, who won the men’s class by topping second place finisher Logan Hay, a saddle bronc rider from Wildwood, Alerta, Canada, and third-place finisher Logan Cook, a saddle bronc rider from Alto, Texas. Jed Moore, a former bull rider from Fruita, topped the Legends and Friends class.

However, it was bareback rider Pascal Isabelle of Longview, Alberta, Canada, who earned this year’s bragging rights and won the final event of the day, the Stampede.

Fans line the course Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, to watch the action at the annual Bud Light Cowboy Downhill at Steamboat Resort.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today
Randalett, Utah, bull rider Josh Frost gets some big air while competing at the Bud Light Cowboy Downhill on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, at Steamboat Resort.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today
Kacy Jones of Newcastle, Wyoming, holds onto his hat as he runs toward the finish line after crashing in the 2023 Bud Light Cowboy Downhill on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, at Steamboat Resort.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today
Utopia, Texas, saddle bronc rider Will Pollock does his best to hold on during the 2023 Bud Light Cowboy Downhill on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, at Steamboat Resort.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today
Emma Cameron of Santa Fe, New Mexico, braves the course at the Bud Light Cowboy Downhill on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, at Steamboat Resort.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today
Overton Texas cowboy Treyson Antonick gets a little sideways after launching off the jump at the 2023 Bud Light Cowboy Downhill on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, at Steamboat Resort. He was rewarded with the award that goes to the participant who had the best wreck.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today
A forerunner for the event, Steamboat Springs cowboy Ray Heid is all smiles as he makes his way down the course at the 2023 Bud Light Cowboy Downhill on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, at Steamboat Resort.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today
Rodeo queen Micah Barnes poses with a smile after falling to the snow at Steamboat Resort during the 2023 Bud Light Cowboy Downhill on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

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