Diamond Hitch event tests skills, technique


— The idea of pulling four skiers down main street has long been a part of the Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival tradition.

Ever since the idea was started by the Ladies Recreation Club back in 1927, the event has been popular among the participants who slide down the street in elaborate costumes and spectators who line those same streets to grab a glimpse of the spectacle.

In the early years, the skiers were pulled by horses and judged on form and speed.

That first year, only two teams took part powered by fast-moving horses, the Indians (dressed in Indian blanket jackets) and the Sailors (dressed in red and white) highlighted the event.

Both teams of four skiers held a rope at four points creating a diamond and the Winter Carnival's Diamond Hitch Parade was born.

That first year, the teams were made up of groups of five women (four skiers and a rider), but a group of five boys followed the two "official" teams down the street.

The prize for winning was candy. The idea became so popular that in 1933 the "parade" was opened to other groups and children.

Today, the power behind the Diamond Hitch parade has been expanded to include four-wheel-drive trucks, snowmobiles and, of course, the trusty horse.

There are four competitive divisions, which are judged based on costumes, adherence to theme and skiing ability. Extra points are given for teams that hold the telemark position, and music, which is audible to the panel of three judges.

"Normally, we try to pick people who are new to the community to judge the parade," former Diamond Hitch Parade chair Fred Grippa said.

Grippa has helped organize and run the parade for the past three years. He is taking this year off because he will not be in town.

There are three judges who award places in the parade in three different categories.

Categories include primary, intermediate, adult and commercial.

There were 30 teams in last year's event including the carnival queens, skiing band and grand marshals.

A similar number is expected this year and the theme will be a Snow Extravaganza.

The Diamond Hitch Parade will be at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 11 on Lincoln Avenue.


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