Free-heeled run arrives at Howelsen

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Howelsen Hill has been the site of many rodeos during the years, but very few of them have been scheduled for January.

But this weekend, organizers of first Steamboat Telemark Rodeo will look to buck the trend. Don't expect the look of a traditional summer rodeo, however, because this event will not feature the rawhide standards, such as bareback, saddle-bronc and bull riding.

These races will feature the same wild, untamed spirit that makes Steamboat's more traditional summer rodeos at Howelsen Hill so popular.

The Telemark Rodeo, a United States Telemark Skiing Association event, will showcase plenty of fast-paced, free-heeled action.

The athletes are scheduled to compete in a slalom, in which they must navigate a course similar to the ones used in Alpine ski racing. That race starts at noon Saturday.

Sunday's events will take on a free-spirited feel, as skiers compete on a sprint classic course that includes traditional giant slalom gates, a mid-course jump and a BMX style berm, designed to force skiers to make a 360-degree turn near the end of the course, after which they will ski to the finish line.

Sunday's races begin at 10 a.m. and are expected to draw good-sized crowds as some of the region's most talented telemark skiers put on a show.

"Sunday's race will be very crowd appealing," organizer Ken Recker said. "It will be a fast, exciting course with lots of thrills and spills."

The Telemark Rodeo is the first points race of the season in a series of events sponsored by the U.S. Telemark Association. Recker said three other races are scheduled, including a national championship event during March in Whitefish, Mont.

It is one of two major telemark skiing events scheduled for Steamboat Springs this winter.

On Feb. 11, Steamboat will host the Steamboat Telemark Revival at Howelsen Hill. Last year, that event drew hundreds of competitors, as well.

The cost to enter the Telemark Rodeo is $35 per event or $60 for the weekend. Skiers also will need to purchase a Howelsen Hill lift ticket each day of the race for $15.

For more information, contact the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club at 879-0695. Racers can register the day of the race, starting at 10 a.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. Sunday.

--To reach John F. Russell, call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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