Winter Carnival's can't-miss spectacle

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Winter Carnival 2008

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Footage from the 2008 Winter Carnival, which took place Feb. 6-10

95th annual Winter Carnival street events

- Ring and Box (ages 6 to 9) - Horse pulls skiers, who must drop rings in washtub.

- Ring and Spear (ages 6 to 9) - Horse pulls skiers who are holding a spear and trying to collect five rings suspended from stands.

- Skijoring (ages 6 to 9 and 10 to 14) - Horse pulls skiers through flat course down the street.

- Street slalom (ages 6 to 9 and 10 to 14) -Horse pulls skiers through slalom course of cones.

- Donkey Jump (ages 6 to 9 and 10 to 14) - Horse pulls skiers as they jump a two-foot ramp.

- Shovel Race (ages 18 and older) - Adults sit in any type of shovel and are pulled by galloping horses.

- 25-yard Dog Dash (ages 5 and younger) Children are pulled by the family dog to the finish line. A parent or dog owner leads the dog.

- Dad Dash, where children are pulled on a sled by their dad on all fours (sled can not have metal runners).

- Children's Dash (25-yard dash ages 3 to 5, 50-yard dash ages 6 to 8, 75-yard dash ages 9 to 11).

- Three-legged Race (ages 5 to 8 and 9 to 11) Two people on skis tie their legs together (ties provided) and race to the finish line.

- Obstacle Course (ages 5 to 7, 8 to 10 and 11 to 14) Skiers maneuver around obstacles and race to the finish line.

— Call 'em crazy, but the brave men and women who take part in the Winter Carnival shovel race help make it one of the annual spectacle's most entertaining events. It also helps make the street events one of the most popular aspects of Winter Carnival.

It's a real test of courage for mountain men and women to show up on Lincoln Avenue with coal shovels and hearts the size of lions. The shovel handles get tied to ropes, the other ends of which are looped securely around the pommel of saddles, which are cinched to supercharged quarterhorses. Helmets and goggles are a must for this event. Lie down on the shovel or sit in it like a chair, but whatever you do, hold on tight.

And it's only one of many unique and entertaining street events held on Lincoln Avenue each February.

Held on Saturday and Sunday mornings of Winter Carnival, the street events embrace all ages - and many species - with the Dog Dash, the Dad Dash and Donkey Jump.

This year's events run from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday and Sunday.

One of the most popular activities during Winter Carnival, the street events can attract more than 250 participants younger than age 14. The most hotly contested events, of course, are those that involve horses.

A part of Winter Carnival since 1915, the street events tie together Steamboat's two traditions: ranching and skiing.

In the early years of ranching, a natural way to travel was riding on skis while being pulled by a horse. In 1913, legendary Norwegian skier Carl Howelsen introduced Northwest Colorado to the sport of skijoring, during which skiers hold onto a rope tied to a running horse.

Although horses pulling skiers might not be the most popular mode of transportation on ranches these days, it thrives during 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.

Ranchers from across Routt County bring their horses into town to help host the street events. The city's Public Works Department hauls in more than 400 tons of snow needed to cover the streets for the event.

All street events need snow, but not all require horses. In the 25-yard dog and dad dash, children ages 5 and younger are pulled in a sled or toboggan by the family dog or dad. There also are events using only skis, such as the Three-legged Race, 50-yard Dash and Obstacle Course.

For the horse events, the Chamber usually has a limit of 20 to 30 participants for each event. Non-horse events, such as the Three-legged Race or 50-yard Dash, are open to as many people as want to participate, depending on the time. The only adult horse race, the shovel race, has a limit of five, so the horses don't get tired.

All participants in the horse events must register in advance at the Steamboat Springs Chamber Visitor Center, and those participants must wear goggles and a helmet. Contestants in horse events may enter only one horse event per day but may sign up as an alternate for others.

Shovel contestants must provide their own shovels and wear helmets and goggles.

Non-horse participants can register up until the day of the events.

All participants also must have a Winter Carnival button, which can be purchased for $7 at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club offices, participating downtown merchants and the Chamber Visitor Center. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. Feb. 1. The events for children fill up quickly. The Chamber asks that participants be at the registration table 15 minutes before their event starts.

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