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Real skiers wear chaps

Annual Cowboy Downhill event is Tuesday at ski area

Dustin Jenkins

If you go

What: 36th annual Cowboy Downhill

When: 4 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Stampede run at Steamboat Ski Area

Cost: Free

— For the 36th year, professional rodeo cowboys will take to the slopes at Steamboat Ski Area.

Cowboys and cowgirls from across the country will make their way to Steamboat SprĀ­ings to comĀ­pete in the annual Cowboy Downhill at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the ski area's Stampede run. The Cowboy Downhill began 36 years ago when Billy Kidd and Larry Mahan, a six-time All-Around World Champion cowboy, decided to put a few pro rodeo stars on skis.

This year's Cowboy Downhill features two events. In the first, participants race through a dual slalom course on skis or a snowboard, hit a jump, lasso a Steamboat Ambassador and saddle a horse before crossing the finish line. The second is an all-out, every-man-for-himself race to the bottom of Stampede, said Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokeswoman Loryn Kasten.

"There's always lots of," Kasten said, pausing to laugh, "exciting tumbles."

Cowboy Downhill is scheduled to coincide with the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in Denver, which started Jan. 5. Participants must be members of the Professional Rodeo Cowboy's Association or a member of the Professional Bull Riders.

Kasten said more than 50 professional cowboys and cowgirls participated in last year's event. She said experience levels vary. Some are experienced skiers while others strap on skis or a snowboard for the first time.

"That's where the hilarity comes in," Kasten said.

Several activities will be available in Gondola Square during the Cowboy Downhill event. From noon to 4 p.m., visitors can check out the Community Agriculture Alliance's informational booth. During that time, a 4-H farm animal petting zoo will be set up that also will include a clinic teaching visitors how to rope.

An awards ceremony will follow the Cowboy Downhill. Afterward, at about 5:30 p.m., a free concert featuring Reckless Kelly will begin in Gondola Square.