Steamboat Springs One of Steamboat Ski Area's most unusual events returns to the slopes Tuesday.
The 32nd annual Bud Light Cowboy Downhill takes over Headwall run at 1:30 p.m. with an entertaining dual slalom race.
Only cowboys can enter, and chaps and cowboys hats are required.
"The Bud Light Cowboy Downhill is an event highlight of both the rodeo and ski seasons, having become one of the most unique events in the country that the whole family can enjoy together," said Andy Wirth, vice president of sales and marketing for the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.
Spectators are encouraged to watch the event from the sides of the course or from the Gondola Square base. In years past, the Cowboy Downhill has featured talented skiers and snowboarders as well as snow-sport rookies.
The Cowboy Downhill is a perfect fit with Steamboat, considering the community's Western heritage. Billy Kidd, Steamboat's director of skiing and a former Olympic medalist, and Larry Mahan, a six-time all-around world champion cowboy, are credited with starting the event when they invited a few Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association stars to Steamboat for some skiing and racing fun in 1974.
The event has been held ever since.
"This event is a tribute to the original rodeo cowboy," Wirth said. "The combination of Steam--boat's genuine friendliness, real Western heritage and world-class skiing on over 20 feet of Champagne Powder snow this season has made our town and resort the ideal setting for the event for over three decades."
In addition to wearing chaps and cowboy hats, the cowboys must be PRCA members participating in the National Western Stock Show, going on through Sunday in Denver.
The Cowboy Downhill begins at the top of Headwall. Before finishing, the skiers and riders will have to navigate through the slalom course that includes an on-course jump. At the bottom, cowboys must lasso a person, saddle a horse and cross the finish line in one piece. The fastest time wins.
The grand finale is the mass-start stampede, pitting cowboys against one another in a winner-take-all race down Headwall.
Other festivities Tuesday include an afternoon Western celebration in Gondola Square featuring 4-H animals, a learn-to-rope clinic and an autograph session with PRCA cowboys.