Winter Carnival 2017: Jim Boyne — Welcome to the 104th Winter Carnival |

Winter Carnival 2017: Jim Boyne — Welcome to the 104th Winter Carnival

Jim Boyne is the executive director of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

— Welcome to the 104th Winter Carnival; Steamboat's authentic celebration of winter and mountain living. Winter Carnival has become a "must-see" celebration that highlights our special community and our western and ski heritage, and brings together visitors and locals in unity as we celebrate the season that has made us Ski Town USA.

This year's Winter Carnival theme is "Take Me to the Mountains." To some, that means a yearning to be one with this beautiful mountainous landscape and community. This year's theme is a reminder of fun and freedom, of sliding down the mountains on skis and snowboards, playing in the snow with children and hiking on snow-packed trails. For all, it is a theme that unites us as a mountain community that is blessed to call the mountains home.

To say our Winter Carnival events are unique is an understatement. Our favorite events highlight the combinations of history, Olympic and western heritage and a love of snow that make our carnival one that can't be rivaled. Throughout the week-long celebration, events will feature athletes taking flight off of Nordic jumps, demonstrating a myriad of amazing aerial skills onto an airbag, spinning through a terrain park and racing down the slopes of Howelsen Hill.

During our exciting weekend Street Events, spectators will have an opportunity to witness one of the events that earned Steamboat's Winter Carnival its place as a Top 10 Winter Carnival. Steamboat's main street will be filled with snow to allow our kid-loving cowboys and cowgirls to saddle up their horses and pull brave, wild-eyed young athletes by ropes on skis and snowboards through numerous obstacles. Thanks to the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, snow sculptures will again be displayed downtown for all to see.

Thursday evening is less about spectating and more about participation. Our S'more Family Fun Party gives families the opportunity to come down to Howelsen Hill to join in the snow fun. All ages are invited to compete in fun and adventurous parent-child snow sport events and to enjoy s'mores, chili, music and dancing. Fire dancers will amaze you while you take a break from the activities to roast a marshmallow over an open fire.

The Night Extravaganza on Saturday evening is a spectacle that must be experienced in person. Thousands of people join together at the base of Howelsen Hill to watch as Winter Sports Club athletes demonstrate their skills and entertain the crowd as they charge down Howelsen Hill with flares, sparklers and LED lighting illuminating their way.

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The famous Lighted Man will again descend down the Face of Howelsen Hill, donning a pyrotechnic suit that shoots fireworks from his body, just as his father did in 1913. Community daredevils will jump through a fiery hoop off of the Nordic jumps, as young athletes soar over rails and kickers in the terrain park.

On this night, we will pay tribute to Sue White, Steamboat's first Special Olympic athlete, who will be heading to the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria in March. The show will culminate with an amazing fireworks display, provided by local fireworks enthusiast Tim Borden, who will launch the largest firework shell in the Western Hemisphere, and perhaps the largest by weight in the world.

For 104 years, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club has been the official organizer for the unique events that make up the Winter Carnival. Established in 1914, the Winter Sports Club has grown into an important athletic and youth development organization that supports our young kids and our community.

Driven by our vision of "creating champions, on and off the mountain," we have mentored tens of thousands of athletes, who have gone on to achieve their dreams in sport and in life, and we have produced more Winter Olympians than any other town in North America, with 88 Olympians and 151 Olympic appearances.

Winter Carnival is the culmination of the passion and energy of the Winter Sports Club, and our community is the foundation that has sustained this tradition and has allowed it to flourish and grow. We are grateful for and humbled by all of our support partners, including our presenting sponsors Yampa Valley Bank, the city of Steamboat Springs, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., SmartWool, KBCR Big Country 96.9 and Sports Med-Yampa Valley Medical Center. A special congratulations to Colorado Mountain College as it celebrates its 50th anniversary of inspiring bright futures. We also would like to thank the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, whose staff is instrumental in partnering with us on the Street Events.

Finally, our sincere gratitude goes to the hundreds of volunteers who consistently pitch in with enthusiasm and energy to help us organize all of the Winter Carnival events. Most importantly, thanks to all in our community for propelling and bringing to life one of the most amazing events in all the world.

Your purchase of the $10 Winter Carnival button offsets some of the costs of putting on Winter Carnival and supports the Winter Sports Club athletes who perform in the events. In addition to serving as your spectating or participation ticket, the button allows anyone wearing one to pick up free ski tickets to ski or ride at Howelsen Hill from February 8 to 12, which encourages all to enjoy the snow during this special celebration.

We are privileged to celebrate our history and heritage together and invite all of you to join us as we celebrate all that is good in Steamboat Springs — Ski Town USA. Come on out and see it for yourself as it surely will capture the hearts and minds of all of us and inspire us to proclaim, "Take me to the mountains."


Jim Boyne

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club executive director