Cowboy-snow mix makes for good downhill ride at Steamboat Resort (with video)
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The large group of spectators who lined the Stampede ski run at the base of Steamboat Resort on Monday, Jan. 20, discovered that if you combine snow with about 80 professional rodeo cowboys, you end up with a rootin’-tootin’ good time.
“The Cowboy Downhill is such a unique event,” said Loryn Duke, Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. director of communications. “There’s no other place doing anything like it, and I think that’s why so many people are drawn to it. Whether you’ve seen it for the last 10 years or the last 40 years or it’s your first time, it’s always exciting.”
Monday’s 46th annual Bud Light Cowboy Downhill had its fair share of unpredictable and unexpected moments, but the “stampede” winner ColinWolfe, of Wenatchee, Washington, was not a total surprise. It was his second year to win the stampede, where the entire field of cowboys starts from the top of the hill at the same time.
The event normally leaves broken poles, hats and more than a few fallen cowboys in its wake, but Wolfe, who is a steer wrestler by trade, avoided the chaos on the ski run the last two years en route to winning the event. Wolfe, who grew up ski racing, credits space to his success.
“The trick is trying to keep away from everybody else,” Wolfe said in the finish area. “You just try to distance yourself from everybody.”
The win was a bright spot for Wolfe who said things didn’t go as well as expected in the steer wrestling events last week at the National Western Stock Show. Many of the cowboys who take part in the Cowboy Downhill are in Colorado for the stock show, which runs Jan. 11-26 in Denver.
“I’m not coming back for the progressive round, so things could have gone better,” Wolfe said. “But this helps a little bit.”
Monday’s event drew 77 professional cowboys, a field of 21 “legends” and another group of rodeo queens. Pascal Isabelle won the timed event part of the Downhill by edging out fellow Canadian Jake Burwasa. Wyoming cowboy Jed Moore won the “legends” division, and Grant Denny earned “best wreck” after getting entangled at the finish and dragging both gates with him through the finish line leaving behind a yard sale of equipment.
For many of the competitors, Monday’s event was not their first rodeo, and it’s something they plan to attend whenever they have the chance.
“It’s the hospitality of the Steamboat Resort, the camaraderie with the cowboys and just getting the opportunity to spend time with your rodeo buddies but not at a rodeo,” said Jedd Moore, a former bull rider from Cheyenne, Wyoming, who keeps coming back. This year’s downhill marks his 22nd year.
Before the race, Moore was hanging out and signing autographs for fans with bullfighter Boomer Reeves. The two were friendly, but Reeves admits ski racing brings out his competitive nature. He still remembers the last time he beat his buddy Moore in Steamboat.
“I got him three years ago,” Reeves said. ”We’re all competing against each other. This is just a different kind of competition for us, but we’re still going to try to beat each other.”
But Moore was quick to add he lost a ski in the starting gate that year when Reeves won.
“That’s when my ski fell off coming out of the start,” Moore said. “Some guys were messing with my bindings, and when I skated out of the start, my ski fell off.”
Reeves didn’t even try to hide his guilt.
“Just so you know, I was the guy that loosened those bindings,” Reeves said.
But both cowboys agreed, the Cowboy Downhill is something people look forward to every winter.
“For the crowd, it’s a great thing,” Reeves said. “For me, it’s 50-50.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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