Cowboys taking to the slopes

Annual downhill event on Headwall set for Jan. 22

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— On Jan. 22, some of the best rodeo athletes in the world will trade their cowboy boots for ski boots and head to Steamboat Springs to race in the 28th annual Bud Light Cowboy Downhill.

The day's events begin at 1:30 p.m. on Headwall with a dual slalom race, which features the cowboys lassoing a person and saddling a horse after navigating the slopes. Spectators should keep in mind that the first time many of the cowboys competing will put on skis will be the morning of the event.

After the slalom race, all of the cowboys will race in The Stampede, the grand finale of the Cowboy Downhill. The Stampede is an all-out race, with every cowboy starting at the same time, and the winner takes all if he gets out of the way of the 100 other cowboys skiing behind him.

Billy Kidd, Steamboat's director of skiing, and six-time all around world rodeo champion Larry Mahan organized the first Cowboy Downhill in 1974, believing it would be fun to invite a few Pro Rodeo stars up from the National Western Stock Show to learn to ski and race down Headwall.

Since then, the Cowboy Downhill has become a highlighted event for cowboys competing at the stock show, Kidd said.

Other events surrounding the Cowboy Downhill include music, food and refreshments at The Bear River Bar & Grill and a learn-to-rope clinic sponsored by Routt County Woolens. The Pro Rodeo cowboys will sign autographs after the race.

Each year the Bud Light Cowboy Downhill makes a donation to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund, in which 100 percent of the funds go to cowboys and cowgirls recovering from rodeo injuries.

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