By the time he finished the course at Friday’s Soda Pop Slalom, 2 1/2-year-old Drew Picking was ready to head down the hill again.
Finishing up the family-geared Winter Carnival event with his twin sister, Izzy, and parents, Lynn and Andy, Drew was the first skier out of the gate and one of about 300 children to participate in the annual timed slalom event at Steamboat Ski Area.
Lynn Picking said she and Andy brought the twins and their 4-year-old sister, Sophie, to the event for the experience, for their support of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, and for the chance for the children’s grandparents to see them scoot down the hill. Andy Picking joked that the race was also a training opportunity.
“We figured this is the next step to the 2022 Olympics,” he said. The family plans to participate in a number of other Winter Carnival events, Lynn Picking said. Andy is registered for the Dad Dash and the Shovel Race, and the group plans to participate in the Dog Dash, as well.
About 300 children ages 2 to 12 typically participate in the event, and turnout Friday was at its usual strength, said Sarah Floyd, Winter Sports Club director of athletics. Like many Winter Carnival events, the Soda Pop Slalom has held its place on the weekend schedule for decades, Floyd said.
The 97th annual Winter Carnival continues today and Sunday with street events, jumping competitions, the Night Extravaganza and more.
Soda Pop participants followed color-coded lines in the snow to the bottom of the course. The event is timed but is meant to be fun, Floyd said. Results for each participant will be posted at www.nastar.com, she said. To find the results, go to “check race results,” select Steamboat Ski Area from the list of resorts, and scroll down to find a list of events.
Adelyn Armstrong — the 2-year-old daughter of Deb Armstrong, Winter Sports Club alpine competitive program director and two-time Olympic skier — stuck close to the colored line on her way around the slalom gates.
“She did great. I didn’t know that she knew how to turn, but she followed the line, and she did great,” Deb Armstrong said. For an already growing skier like Adelyn, the Soda Pop Slalom is a fun community event that offers a little exposure to winter sports, Armstrong said.
Five-year-old Gianluca Audia also had an Olympian’s advice guiding him through the course. He used some tips from Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. Director of Skiing and former Olympian Billy Kidd to finish the race in 26.85 seconds. Gianluca said Kidd told him to start his turn before he got to the gates, and that’s “exactly what I did,” he said. Billie Audia, Gianluca’s mother, said the family visits Steamboat from New Hampshire each year during Winter Carnival.
Other Friday Winter Carnival events included children’s ski jumping at Howelsen Hill; a tubing party at Howelsen; and a send-off for Steamboat Olympians at the Routt County Courthouse. The Night Extravaganza, which includes the Lighted Man, is 6:30 p.m. today at Howelsen.
97th annual Winter Carnival schedule
8 to 11 a.m. Knights of Columbus Pancake Breakfast (Holy Name Catholic Church, 524 Oak St.) Hosted annually by the Knights of Columbus, this function is the perfect way to fuel up for all of the day’s activities. In addition to a Winter Carnival button, a nominal admission is charged.
8 a.m. 100-Meter Nordic Sprint (Downtown, Lincoln Avenue) The Steamboat Springs Nordic Council is looking for the fastest skate skiers in the ’Boat. To find them, they are hosting a 100-meter Nordic sprint on Lincoln Avenue between Seventh and Eighth streets before the Street Events. The race will have male and female divisions as well as 13 and older and 12 and younger age categories. Anyone interested can register at the Steamboat Touring Center or at the Steamboat Springs Visitor’s Center.
9 a.m. to noon. Street Events (Downtown, Lincoln Avenue) Sponsored by Yampa Valley Bank. A wildly popular and entertaining show featuring children on skis and snowboards being pulled behind horses through the snow-covered streets of downtown. Races include street slalom, skijoring, ring and spear, donkey jump and the famous adult shovel race. The horse events are for children ages 6 to 14, and there also are nonhorse events for children 14 and younger. Pre-registration is required at the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association. Call the Chamber at 970-879-0880 for more information.
9 a.m. to noon. Pro Alpine Ski Flying Training (Howelsen Hill, downtown off Fifth Street) Training for Sunday’s event.
Noon to 2 p.m. International Muzzle Loading Biathlon (Howelsen Hill) In this unique endurance event, participants clad in fur trapper, frontier vintage attire combine marksmanship, using early Americana black powder firearms, with cross-country skiing on primitive equipment.
1 p.m. Pro Alpine Ski Flying Qualifying (Howelsen Hill) Qualifying for Sunday’s event.
6:30 p.m. Night Extravaganza (Howelsen Hill) Sponsored by Yampa Valley Bank, Native Excavating and Pioneer Ridge. A must-see evening of entertainment at historic Howelsen Hill. The evening features a winter sports exhibition, the Lighted Man, glow necklaces and torchlight parades, fiery hoop jumpers, an elaborate fireworks display and more.
9 to 11 a.m. Street Events (Downtown, Lincoln Avenue) Sponsored by Yampa Valley Bank. See above description.
11:30 a.m. Diamond Hitch Parade (Downtown, Lincoln Avenue) The diamond hitch consists of at least four skiers. The skiers hold on to points of a rope tied in the shape of one or more diamonds. Animals, people or vehicles may pull the skiers down the snow-filled streets. Anyone is welcome to enter the parade. Pre-registration required. Call the Winter Sports Club at 970-879-0695, ext. 100, for a parade entry form.
1 p.m. Pro Alpine Ski Flying Finals (Howelsen Hill, downtown off of Fifth Street) This is a must-see Gelandesprung (a German word that means terrain jump) ski jumping event with participants launching off of the K114 “Big Hill” on Alpine skis and boots, rather than the usual ski jumping equipment. Watch as world records get broken. For more information, call Pat Arnone at 970-879-8141.
1 to 2 p.m. Parent-Child Downhill (Howelsen Hill) Sponsored by Ski Haus and Pepsi Cola. Everyone is a winner in this noncompetitive, fun event. An adult and child ski together through Howelsen Hill’s terrain. Each child is given a participant ribbon and is provided an opportunity to have a professional photograph taken on the podium. Pre-registration is not required, but a release form must be signed or already on file with SSWSC in order to participate.
A Winter Carnival button earns admission to many events. Buttons are $7 and are available at the event gate or at many local businesses. Call the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club at 879-0695 for more information.