Obstacle Race kicks off carnival | SteamboatToday.com

Obstacle Race kicks off carnival

Margaret Hair

— Winter Carnival’s youth-oriented Cross-Country Obstacle Race is not a competitive event. At least, it’s not supposed to be.

“They’re very intense,” said Joyce Ziegler, whose 10-year-old granddaughter, Natalie Bohlmann, was among a pack of 9- and 10-year-olds who burst off the starting line in a just-for-fun cross-country skiing event Wednesday afternoon at Howelsen Hill’s Adams Field.

Children ages 5 to 12 took on small jumps and banked turns that filled up the normally flat ball field. Each child skating across the finish line received cardboard medals and congratulations from families and fellow members of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

Madison Keeffe and Mary O’Connell, Winter Sports Club members competing in the 11-and-up division, hatched creative plans to make their runs more interesting.

“We’re going to try to do our own slope-style tricks,” Keeffe said, admitting that the impromptu baseball field bumps probably wouldn’t be steep enough for any of those tricks to work.

Although some cross-country participants in the older age groups beared down for a speedy finish, racers from the younger age groups tumbled down small powder mountains on the inside of the course. Parents cheered on their children and everyone else’s. Racers that finished at the front of the pack – many of them competitive cross-country skiers – adorned their teammates with medals as they finished the course. Many ducked into Howelsen Hill Lodge just after their race to escape the constant snow.

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Gary Crawford, a Nordic combined ski coach for Winter Sports Club, said the obstacle race is a low-stress way to get Winter Carnival events going for the younger crowd.

“It’s just one of the fun kickoff events for the carnival,” Crawford said. “It’s just fun to see them all out here having a good time.”