Saturday, January 25, 2003
Steamboat Springs Perhaps no other Winter Carnival event ties together Steamboat's two traditions -- ranching and skiing -- as well as the street events.
In the early years of ranching, a natural way to travel was riding on skis while being pulled by a horse. And in 1913, legendary Norwegian skier Carl Howelsen introduced to Northwest Colorado the sport of skijoring, where skiers hold onto a rope tied around a running horse.
Although horses pulling skiers might not be the most popular transportation in ranches these days, it thrives during Steamboat's Winter Carnival. The street events have young skiers pulled by horses jumping off ramps, navigating a slalom course, dropping rings in boxes, collecting rings on a spear and having an old-fashioned skijoring race down Lincoln Avenue. There is even a race that has adults sitting in shovels being pulled by horses.
Not all the events require horses. In the 25-yard dog and dad dash, 5-year-olds and younger are pulled in a sled or toboggan by the family dog or dad. They also have events just on skis such as the three-legged race, 50-yard dash or obstacle course on skis.
On Saturday of Winter Carnival, 12 street events will be held and on Sunday eight are scheduled.
The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and the First National Bank of Steamboat Springs sponsor the events. Chamber Executive Vice President Sandy Evans-Hall said the two most popular events are the donkey jump and skijoring.
"It is pretty much a tie between the skijoring because it is the easiest and the donkey jump because you have to be the bravest for that one," Evans-Hall said.
Evans-Hall said skijoring is a good place to start for those competing in their first Winter Carnival.
"Skijoring is where you just get pulled down the street. There are no slaloms, no cones, nothing you have to do," Evans-Hall said. "Especially for younger kids that have just entered into their first street event that is one they almost always sign up for because it is just strictly speed and the ability to ski down that street."
For the horse events, the chamber has a limit of 20 to 30 participants for each event. Non-horse events, such as the three-legged race or 50-yard dash, can have as many people who show up. The only adult horse race, the shovel race, has a limit of five, so not to tire out the horses.
Pre-registration is mandatory on all horse events and those participants must wear goggles and a helmet. Shovel contestants must provide their own shovels and wear helmets.
All participants must also have a Winter Carnival Button.
Day registration is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 3-7 at the Chamber Information Center, 1255 Lincoln Ave. Evening registration will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 5-6.
Although events have changed and Evans-Hall said she has watched children move through the winter carnival competitions, one thing remains the same.
"They always seem to be the coldest two days of the year," Evans-Hall said.