Steamboat Springs The chariot horses that once raced at Brent Romick Rodeo Arena during Winter Carnival will be replaced by pure horsepower this year.
Ed Duncan, a local racer who, along with his wife, Kathy, organized the chariot events in past years, said waning interest in the sport forced the Yampa Valley Cutter and Chariot Racing Association to cancel the races in 2006 and 2007.
"There's just nobody else racing - it just has faded," Duncan said.
This year, the rodeo grounds again will come to life during Winter Carnival, but for a different reason. The sound of hoofs pounding snow will be replaced with the revving engines of two of the top freestyle snowmobile riders in the world.
For years, Steve Miller has worked to grow the evolving sport of sledstyle. From Seattle Seahawks halftime shows to performances in Moscow's Red Square, Miller has taken his Red Bull/SCS Sledstyle demonstrations across the globe to expose audiences to the high-flying capabilities of the snow machines and their gutsy riders.
This year, Miller - who manages the exhibitions and builds the courses - will bring a pair of his dual-rider, demonstration-format shows to the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena in downtown Steamboat Springs. The shows are at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 8 and noon Feb. 9.
"You've got top-caliber riders on a 500-pound machine, 30 feet high off the jumps, going 75 feet off the ramp, 85 to 90 feet off the snow hit, doing the biggest tricks, flips and the whole works," Miller said.
By the end of the demonstrations, spectators should have their fill of cliffhanger seat grabs and backflip trick variations from two of the best in the business - Heath Frisby and Joe Parsons. Frisby advanced to the semifinals of the inaugural Snowmobile Freestyle event at last year's Winter X Games 11, where eventual gold medalist Chris Burandt edged him by just two points. Frisby and Parsons also competed in this year's Winter X Games in Aspen, including performing in the new "Speed & Style" snowmobile event. They're fresh off the sport's biggest stage.
Both Red Bull-sponsored events are free to the public and will last about an hour.
Visit www.scsracing.com for more information about the riders and past events.