Steamboat Springs As the final competitor in Saturday’s street events during the 98th annual Winter Carnival, Derrick Jaramillo had more motivation than anyone else to cross the finish line while being pulled down the street on a metal shovel by a sprinting horse.
When he finished his run in the famed shovel race, he was handed a microphone and approached his girlfriend of 1 1/2 years, Amberly Rinderknecht.
“Baby, we’ve been through a lot, and I love you,” he said.
A crowd of hundreds of onlookers ooh-ed and aah-ed as he sank to one knee in his fringed leather chaps.
“I guess what I’m saying is, will you marry me, now and forever?”
Rinderknecht clasped her hands together with a grin and murmured a “yes” that only her fiance could hear.
“The timing was just right,” said Jaramillo, who lives in Vernal, Utah, along with Rinderknecht. “I had gotten the ring ready, and we love coming to Steamboat just to get away.
“She had no idea. It was perfect.”
As her best friend snapped pictures, Rinderknecht accepted congratulations from all sides and flashed her ring.
“He’s Mr. Spontaneous,” she said. “So this was perfect. I’m so excited; it’s awesome.”
The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association organized the annual Winter Carnival street events, which brought more than just the young couple together on a snowy Saturday morning.
More than 200 children took part in playful, winter-themed contests, many of which featured local horses pulling skiers down the middle of Lincoln Avenue.
Street events continue today at 9 a.m., with the Diamond Hitch Parade to follow at 11:30 a.m. Lincoln Avenue will be closed downtown from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The popular children’s events include skijoring, where the horses gallop down the street pulling a skier behind them. Throughout the day, skiers were logging times anywhere from 7 to 25 seconds, as the falling snow added to the bumpy ride down the street.
The non-horse events required children as young as 3 to simply race on skis toward a finish line, sometimes in pairs with legs tied together.
Later, the bravest young skiers were pulled down the street and launched off a jump, and they were judged on distance traveled.
Winter Sports Club mogul skier Liam Baxter, 8, threw his arms up in the air after he finished his donkey jump run: He had just logged the longest jump of the day.
“Dad, I got 30 feet!” he yelled when he left the course. Then he explained how he did it: “I popped it, and that horse was the fastest.
“I was scared right when I was about to go off, but I didn’t back out.”
His friend and Winter Sports Club teammate Tallak Myhre, 9, eventually beat him by less than a foot, but there was no shortage of sportsmanship throughout the day as most of the competitors slapped hands and hugged each other despite the color of their ribbons.
Ella Walker, 6, participated in her first skijoring race Saturday, finally getting to take part in the fun that she’s watched her older bother have for years.
“It was fun,” Ella said. “I got the fastest time.”
She didn’t place, but she did get to spend a morning skiing, which is one of her favorite activities.
“I like to jump, and I like going fast,” she said.
Her mother, Jenica Walker, said she definitely was nervous watching her daughter careen down the street, but it was generally a joyful weekend of winter fun.
“I think there’s no other city that would open up its streets to just let the kids play,” Walker said. “That’s why we love Winter Carnival.”
■ 9 to 11 a.m. Street events:
(Downtown, Lincoln Avenue) Sponsored by Yampa Valley Bank, F.M. Light & Sons, Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, Pinnacol Assurance, Old Town Pub and Walmart. A 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 are non-horse events for infants to 14-year-olds. Preregistration is required. Call the Chamber at 970-879-0880.
■ 11:30 a.m. Diamond Hitch Parade:
(Downtown, Lincoln Avenue) The diamond hitch consists of at least four skiers holding 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-covered streets. Anyone is welcome to enter the parade. Preregistration is required. Call the Winter Sports Club at 970-879-0695, ext. 100, for an entry form.
■ 1 p.m. Pro Alpine ski flying finals:
(Howelsen Hill, downtown off 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 in Alpine skis and boots rather than the usual ski jumping equipment. Call Pat Arnone at 970-879-8141.
■ 1 to 2 p.m. Parent-Child Downhill:
(Howelsen Hill) Sponsored by Ski Haus and Pepsi. 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 participation ribbon and is provided an opportunity to have a professional photograph taken on the podium. Preregistration is not required, but a release form must be signed or already be on file with Winter Sports Club.
— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or e-mail ninglis@SteamboatToday.com