Dustin Jenkins, a bareback rider from Missoula, Mont., leads a pack of cowboys down the course during the 35th annual Cowboy Downhill Stampede on Tuesday at Steamboat Ski Area. The stampede is the traditional end to the Cowboy Downhill, which is held every year in Steamboat Springs during the National Western Stock Show.

Photo by John F. Russell

Dustin Jenkins, a bareback rider from Missoula, Mont., leads a pack of cowboys down the course during the 35th annual Cowboy Downhill Stampede on Tuesday at Steamboat Ski Area. The stampede is the traditional end to the Cowboy Downhill, which is held every year in Steamboat Springs during the National Western Stock Show.

Cowboys fall hat over heels

Wyoming bull rider sweeps chaotic Cowboy Downhill

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Cowboy Downhill

Watch last season's fun at the Cowboy Downhill.  This season's Downhill will be held January 19, 2010.

Watch last season's fun at the Cowboy Downhill. This season's Downhill will be held January 19, 2010.

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Bareback rider Josh Luger sprints toward the finish line of the 35th annual Bud Light Cowboy Downhill at the Steamboat Ski Area on Tuesday afternoon. Sixty-four cowboys, many from the National Western Stock show in Denver, traveled to Steamboat Springs for the chance to race in the fun-filled event, which included a slalom course, jump and plenty of high-speed crashes.

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Bareback rider Scotty Nesmith of Russelville, Tenn. looks to land a jump during the 35th annual Cowboy Downhill at the Steamboat Ski Area Tuesday afternoon. Nesmith was one of 64 cowboys to take part in the annual downhill race, which is always held in conjunction with the National Western Stock Show in Denver.

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Saddle Bronc rider Chett Johnson crashes on the slopes of Steamboat Ski Area during the 35th annual Cowboy Downhill on Tuesday. Sixty-Four cowboys, many from the National Western Stock Show, traveled to Steamboat Springs to take part in the race, which included slalom gates, a pro-style jump and plenty of crashes.

Cowboy Downhill results

Dual slalom

Competitor, Hometown, Time

1. Jed Moore, Cheyenne, Wyo., 25.96 seconds

2. Dustin Mulroney, Pomeroy, Wash., 26.93

3. Eric Brynildson, Rifle, 27.96

4. Wes Burns, Stephenville, Texas, 29.35

5. Jesse Kruse, Great Fall, Mont., 29.49

6. Winston Kusler, Havre, Mont., 29.77

7. Scott Montague, Rapid City, S.D., 30.07

8. Tyrell Nelson, Cheyenne, Wyo., 32.39

9. Luke Butterfield, Ponoka, Alberta, 33.43

10. Todd Herzog, Penhold, Alberta, 34.20

Stampede title: Jed Moore, Cheyenne, Wyo.

Best wreck: Jerod Johnston, Stephenville, Texas

— It was an especially chaotic Cowboy Downhill at the Steamboat Ski Area on Tuesday, when not even Billy Kidd could stay on his feet and an uncooperative horse caused more trouble for the cowboys than the jump in the middle of the course.

Emerging from the yard sale of skis, poles and cowboy hats was Jed Moore, of Cheyenne, Wyo., who won the dual slalom and stampede races in his 12th year competing.

"I may only have one or two more Downhills in my career," said Moore, alluding to the fact that one must be entered in the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in Denver to participate. "I figured I ought as well put my mark on it before I'm done."

In the dual slalom race, cowboys and cowgirls in chaps and cowboy hats had to clear gates, negotiate a jump, lasso a Steamboat Ambassador and saddle a horse before crossing the finish line. Moore did it in 25.96 seconds.

The course was cleared for the next race: a crowded, mass-start stampede that delighted the spectators lining the course and construction workers who could be seen watching the race from the scaffolding of the nearby Edgemont project.

"We love seeing wipeouts," said Rachael Nobile, 9, of Columbus, Ohio.

It's safe to say Moore took the event a bit more seriously than many of the other 63 competitors. He spent the morning practicing on the resort's NASTAR course and - except for a Bloody Mary as soon as he woke up Tuesday morning - didn't have anything to drink before the races.

"I still have a bit of a headache," he explained.

It was quite a different story on the Bear River Bar & Grill deck, where the number of cowboys in line for a beer outnumbered those loading the Christie Peak Express chairlift as announcers declared that the dual slalom races were about to begin.

Jerod Johnston, a bareback rider from Stephenville, Texas, won the title for the best wreck of the day after he stuck the jump during the dual slalom race only to collide into a gate, lose a ski and somersault down the hill.

Most at the table were Cowboy Downhill veterans. A visibly nervous Bryce Case, however, was not only participating in the event for the first time, but also had never skied before in his life.

"I'm trying to get some liquid courage," Case said between swigs. "If nothing else, I'll thrill the crowd I'm sure."

"The wrecks here don't hurt nearly as bad as they do in rodeo," Johnston said reassuringly.

Nearby, Erin Orr was preparing for her first Cowboy Downhill as a spectator.

"I heard this was pretty awesome," said Orr, who moved to Steamboat Springs in August and works at The Village at Steamboat. "There are a lot of guests that are here specifically for this event. : I think it's a pretty good event for Steamboat because it's a ranching community."

- To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210 or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com

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