Steamboat’s Lincoln Avenue draws spectators for Winter Carnival street events
January 28, 2011
Steamboat Springs — Children as young as 6 balance on skis and cling to ropes as they're hauled down Steamboat Springs' main drag behind galloping horses. At the end, they fly off a ski jump built in the middle of the road.
The donkey jump isn't the only thing a wide-eyed, first-time spectator to Steamboat's Winter Carnival street events has to come to terms with.
Parents and children line up for hours in freezing temperatures just to get the chance to balance on skis and cling to ropes tied to galloping horses.
"We have a line out the door," said Kara Givnish, Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association special events coordinator, talking about the morning registration for the 11 street events. "Most of the events fill up by 9 a.m.
"The events just really embrace Steamboat and our community, bringing the ranching with the horses together with the skiing."
The events run from 9 a.m. to noon Feb. 5 and from 9 to 11 a.m. Feb. 6.
Many involve the only-in-Steamboat combination of horses, skis and children. The ring and box, ring and spear, skijoring, street slalom and donkey jump events all lead to children dragging behind a charging horse.
They drop rings in a box, try to spear five suspended rings, race for times in the skijoring and street slalom events and for distance in the donkey jump, where children go flying off a 2-foot ramp.
Children also dominate in the children's dash, which sends children as young as 5 and as old as 11 on sprints of 25, 50 or 75 yards. The three-legged race has two age divisions for children and, of course, requires that children on skis have their legs tied together.
There's an obstacle course, traditional except for the ski requirement, and the dad and dog dashes, which at least replace a horse, albeit with dear old dad on all fours or the family pet.
There's plenty of opportunity for children to shine, and a few for adults, as well. The shovel race is a longtime favorite. Anyone older than 18 can plop down on a shovel and be dragged to the far end of the street by a horse.
Sound a bit crazy? Maybe it is, but don't forget: Not only do people sign up for it, they wake up early and wait in a long line for the right to do so.
"These kind of things don't happen everywhere," Givnish said. "I don't know if it happens anywhere else in the country."
All that danger, and she said it's not exactly where the excitement stems from. Instead, it's always from the warm smile of a time well had, by children and adults who survive their moment on the snow, and from the crowd, often just trying to come to terms with what is really going on.
"The kids, their faces light up every time they get to participate, whenever it's their turn," Givnish said. "That magic, it just resonates through the crowd, and it's all very exciting."
■ Ring and box (ages 6 to 9): Horse pulls skiers who must drop rings in washtub.
■ Ring and spear (ages 6 to 9): Horse pulls skiers who are holding a spear and trying to collect five rings suspended from stands.
■ Skijoring (ages 6 to 9 and 10 to 14): Horse pulls skiers through flat course down the street.
■ Street slalom (ages 6 to 9 and 10 to 14): Horse pulls skiers through slalom course of cones.
■ Donkey jump (ages 6 to 9 and 10 to 14): Horse pulls skiers as they jump a 2-foot ramp.
■ Shovel race (ages 18 and older): Adults sit in any type of shovel and are pulled by galloping horses.
■ Dog dash (ages 5 and younger): Children are pulled by the family dog 25 yards to the finish line. A parent or dog owner leads the dog. This race is followed by the Dad Dash.
■ Dad dash: Dads pull the sled on all fours (sled cannot have metal runners).
■ Children's dash: 25-yard dash ages 3 to 5, 50-yard dash ages 6 to 8, 75-yard dash ages 9 to 11.
■ Three-legged race (ages 5 to 8 and 9 to 11): Two people on skis tie their legs together (ties provided) and race to the finish line.
■ Obstacle course (ages 5 to 7, 8 to 10 and 11 to 14): Skiers maneuver around obstacles and race to the finish line.
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