Look for some new additions woven with tradition at the 2023 Winter Carnival | SteamboatToday.com

Look for some new additions woven with tradition at the 2023 Winter Carnival

Brody Schwab does a flat 360 into the new Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club airbag.
Dayton Vandrey/Courtesy

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published in the Winter Carnival special section published on Wednesday, Feb. 8.

Although this Winter Carnival marks 110 years of traditions, organizers at Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club are not afraid to introduce a few new events to appeal to as many carnival-goers as possible.

A Winter Carnival Memories presentation is new this year set for 5:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9. The Tread of Pioneers Museum team is recruiting a panel of local storytellers such as Routt County notables Nancy Gray, longtime ski instructor; Pete Wither, former ski patrol director; and Ray Heid, cowboy skier and author, to share their favorite memories of past Winter Carnivals. The memories event is free to everyone, with free hot beverages, and will take place inside and upstairs at Olympian Hall at Howelsen Hill. 

Gretchen Burkholder, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club office manager, said she hopes the evening will attract community members who might not want to stand out in the cold for other athletic events for a time of reminiscing about previous Winter Carnivals. 

Dance on skis 

To add more fun to the already festive Winter Carnival lineup on Friday, Feb. 10, organizers are encouraging competitors with a bit of pizzazz, the ability to perform skiing tricks choreographed to music and a willingness to dress up in costume to compete in Ski Ballet. 

Ski ballet experienced its time in the spotlight during the 1970s and 1980s. Something akin to rhythmic gymnastics, ski ballet competitors performed twirls, flips or tricks with help from long ski poles. According to NBCOlympics.com, ski ballet was featured as a demonstration sport at both the 1988 Calgary Games in Canada and 1992 Albertville Games in France.

“The sport, also known at times as Acroski, was featured on professional freestyle skiing tours in the 1970s and 1980s and was always a unique fan-favorite. Competitors performed two-minute routines set to music and filled with spins, flips and flair,” according to NBCOlympics.com

Blair Seymour, SSWSC sport development director, said the new ski ballet event is “just a fun, goofy, silly activity” intended to be an entertaining event for spectators. 

“I always like to spice it up a little bit each year. It’s good to have some new things, reinvent something or bring something back,” Seymour said. 

A carnival button or gaiter is required to enter, and prizes will be awarded. The ski ballet will take place at 5 p.m. on Friday at Howelsen Hill next to the large magic carpet. For questions, contact Seymour at bseymour@sswsc.org

Witness big air

The Winter Sports Club will show off its new grant-funded air bag during the Airbag Jam Session 2-6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 9, at Howelsen Hill. The event isn’t brand new, but perhaps lesser known. Freestyle and freeskiing youth athletes will launch into the air and show off their complex flips, spins and tricks for spectators.

Andy Michnay, SSWSC freeskiing director, said the new 50-foot square, 16-foot tall inflatable air bag was funded through a grant from the Lennox Foundation. He said the club’s previous 10-year-old air bag tore on the side walls during last year’s Winter Carnival and could not be repaired.

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