Fat City awash in memories

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— The Fat City Showdown was like a walk down memory lane for Steamboat Springs paddler Dan Brabec, who won the local men's class at Tuesday's whitewater rodeo event.

"It was good. I used to compete as a pro, but that was before I got old and retired," Brabec said.

The local paddler said the event was great for Steamboat Springs and offered locals a great chance to watch some of the country's best whitewater paddlers.

It also offered him a chance to go up against some of the country's top whitewater paddlers.

The men's open class, which included most of those top pros, was won by Clay Wright, who topped second-place finisher Taylor Robertson and third-place finisher Andy Bedingfield.

Brooke Winger collected the women's open title in the event. She bested Eleanor Perry, who took second and Harriet Taylor in third.

Brabec came in first in the local men's class, which was reserved for paddlers with a Routt County address. He scored higher than fellow local favorites Bobber White and Jared Johnson.

"I won a hundred bucks," Brabec said. "It was nice because it made up for taking the day off of work."

Sandy Buchanan won the women's local class and Max "Egghead" Sullivan earned a special honor by taking the title in the men's town clown class.

"We had a group of guys out there who were just putting on a show," event organizer Jerry Baxter said. "We just wanted to recognize them, too."

The Fat City Showdown drew 40 men and 11 women in its first competition in Steamboat.

"We were very pleased," Baxter said. "We had a great turnout both in competitors and spectators. I don't think it could have gone any better."

Baxter said a group of about 200 local whitewater fans were on hand for the finals, which ended at 10:30 p.m. under a set of high-powered portable lights.

Brabec said he has kayaked at night before, but doing it under the spotlight with a huge crowd watching was a unique opportunity for him.

He is hoping the Fat City Showdown will return next year and said the experience has inspired him to paddle a little more this year. He plans to attend this weekend's river festival and compete in the rodeo at that event. However, repeating his Tuesday night win isn't his highest priority.

"It just depends on who comes out to compete," Brabec said. "If it's just a bunch of local guys out to have a good time, I might dial out and let someone else enjoy the spotlight for a while."

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