From shovel racing to skijoring, 8 must-see Winter Carnival street events

Steamboat Springs resident David Lamb skids through the snow during the popular adult shovel race at Winter Carnival in 2010.

Adult shovel race

There’s a reason this annual event is always referred to as “famous.” Brave adults hold on tight to a shovel as they are towed at full speed down Lincoln Avenue by a horse. The fastest shovel rider wins, and falling off results in embarrassment as well as disqualification.


This sport dates back more than 2,000 years and started in Lapland, where residents were towed through heavy snow on skis by reindeer. At the Winter Carnival, the sport includes young athletes going off jumps and performing tasks on skis while being towed by a sprinting quarter horse. Skijoring first arrived in Steamboat in 1915.

The Lowell Whiteman School horse program director and computer technician Trenia Sanford pulls a North Routt Community Charter School sixth-grader down Routt County Road 56 on Friday while practicing for the Winter Carnival skijoring competition.

Street slalom

Contestants on skis race each other on a slalom course while being towed by a horse. Missing cones or falling results in disqualification.

Donkey Jump

Try to position yourself just below the jumps in the middle of Lincoln Avenue for this event. Athletes, towed by horses, hit a 2-foot ramp and compete to see who can fly the furthest while maintaining a standing position.

Noel Keeffe flies off the donkey jump during the Winter Carnival in Steamboat Springs. Keeffe flew 37.5 feet to win Sunday’s competition.

Ring and steer

Contestants on skis attempt to lasso a ring around “Prince” the steer’s head. Contestants are penalized for missing the steer.

Ring and spear

Contestants use a spear to try and collect five rings on a course while being towed by a horse down the street. Contestants are penalized for missing a ring.

Three-legged race

Two people on skis tie their legs together and race to the finish line. Contestants are forgiven for losing their balance, but the first pair over the finish line wins.

Ten-year-old Finn O’Connell, right, and 11-year-old Grant Andrews, both of Steamboat Springs, ski down Lincoln Avenue during the three-legged race. The Nordic combined Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athletes came in first.

Obstacle course

Contestants on skis maneuver around a variety of obstacles and make a dash to the finish line. 


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.