Annual Cowboy Downhill event features plenty of tumbles | SteamboatToday.com

Annual Cowboy Downhill event features plenty of tumbles

Margaret Hair

Somebody forgot to tell Beaver, Okla., saddle bronc rider Will Payne that the snowplow isn't the best way to land a jump at the 36th annual Cowboy Downhill, which was held at Steamboat Ski Area Tuesday afternoon. The event drew 64 cowboys who races, jumped and roped their way through a challenging course on the Stampede run.

— Skis, poles, snow and cowboy hats went flying over the gates on the sides of Stampede run Tuesday afternoon, as 64 cowboys on skis and snowboards flew, tumbled or ran the final event of the 36th annual Cowboy Downhill.

Jed Moore — a bull-riding rodeo cowboy from Cheyenne, Wyo., who came into his 13th year racing in Cowboy Downhill hoping to take home his second consecutive win — said he knew his fellow rodeo competitors would be gunning for him at Tuesday's event.

"They told me that they'd rather take themselves out and put me out of the race than have me win, so I was a little bit weary of some of the competition today," Moore said.

By catching a solid jump off the kicker on the Cowboy Downhill course, Moore was able to reclaim his title as champion of the event-ending stampede.

He claimed third in the timed slalom event.

Starting at 4 p.m. Tuesday, a few hours later than in years past, the event drew a crowd that filled Gondola Square and the deck of Bear River Bar & Grill, and lined the sides of the racecourse up Headwall at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

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Sponsored by Bud Light and Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., Cowboy Downhill is open to cowboys registered in the National Western Stock Show in Denver; participants also must be members of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association or Professional Bull Riders to compete.

Racers compete in two events. The first, a timed obstacle course, challenges a pair of skiers or snowboarders to negotiate a few slalom gates and a jump on their way down the hill and then lasso a Denver Broncos cheerleader and saddle a horse before charging through the finish line.

The second, a more chaotic mass event, sends every competitor down an obstacle-free hill — aside from the kicker — at the same time.

Steven Peebles, a bareback rider from Oregon who was racing in Cowboy Downhill for the second time, said the event is a welcome stop on a busy rodeo cowboy's tour schedule.

He planned to succeed in the races by being faster than everyone else.

Like many other cowboys Tuesday, Peebles crashed almost immediately after his obstacle course jump, taking out his competitor. He was disqualified.

That's the kind of carnage spectator Graham Dephoff's three children said they hoped to see before the race. Finishing up the final weeks of a two-month visit to Steamboat from their home in Sydney, Australia, Dephoff's 10-year-old daughter, Grace, said she hoped to see the riders "stack," or crash. Renny, 5, and Rory, 7, hoped for lots of jumps followed by lots of falling.

At the top of the rankings in the timed event was Jerad Schlegel, a bareback rider from Burns. Kaycee Field, a bareback rider from Carthage, Texas, came in second. The award for best crash went to Eric Brynildson, a steer wrestler from Rifle.

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