Bareback rider Kaycee Field, of Payson, Utah, tries to avoid crashing during the 37th annual Bud Light Cowboy Downhill on Tuesday afternoon at Steamboat Ski Area.

Photo by John F. Russell

Bareback rider Kaycee Field, of Payson, Utah, tries to avoid crashing during the 37th annual Bud Light Cowboy Downhill on Tuesday afternoon at Steamboat Ski Area.

Steamboat's Cowboy Downhill ‘wild and out of control’

Annual event proves thrilling for spectators

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2011 Cowboy Downhill

Cowboys took to the slopes at the Steamboat Ski Area Tuesday for the annual Bud Light Cowboy Downhill.

Cowboys took to the slopes at the Steamboat Ski Area Tuesday for the annual Bud Light Cowboy Downhill.

Cowboy Downhill results

Slalom/State/Time

  1. Jed Moore/Wyoming/25.46
  2. Marc Gill/Wyoming/26.42
  3. Ty Hamaker/Wyoming/26.74
  4. Jake Griffin/Wyoming/28.23
  5. Jacobs Crawley/Texas/29.75
  6. Yancy Day/Iowa/30.65
  7. Cort Scheer/Nebraska/30.77
  8. Jesse James Kirby/Kansas/31.36
  9. Dusty Keylon/N/A/32.06
  10. Ray Tom Meyers/Texas/32.14

Stampede

Marc Gill/Wyoming

Best wreck

Sam Spreadborough

— They call it Stampede for a reason.

If they weren’t out in front or behind during the every-cowboy-for-himself, no-holds-barred, winner-take-all race to the bottom at the annual Bud Light Cowboy Downhill on Tuesday at Steamboat Ski Area, they were likely in a pile somewhere in between.

That was the case for many of the cowboys and cowgirls who competed in the 37th annual event, but not for Marc Gill, a bullfighter from Laramie, Wyo. Gill won the Stampede, on Stampede trail, after another competitor was disqualified for starting early.

Gill, competing on Telemark skis in his second Cowboy Downhill, said he was ecstatic. After last year, Gill said, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to return.

“They couldn’t drag me away from here,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if I win. I come here to ski with my family. But I did have a spot on my mantel for that bronze.”

Gill was awarded a bronze trophy of two crossed skis, a cowboy hat resting atop one of them and a lasso around the middle.

The Stampede was the second of two events and seemed to be the fan favorite.

Lucas Chapman, 10, and his sisters Gabriela, 11, and Paloma, 6, attended the Cowboy Down­hill for the third year in a row. The siblings, visiting Steamboat Springs with their parents from New York City, said the Stampede was the reason they kept coming back.

“All these guys come down,” Lucas said. “They all crash and fall down. It’s fun.”

During the first event, the cowboys and cowgirls raced through a dual slalom course on skis or a snowboard, hit a jump, lassoed an employee from the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Assoc­iation and saddled a horse before crossing the finish line.

In his first Cowboy Downhill, team roper Derrick Miller, of Basil, La., was surprised that his competitor tackled him after crossing the finish line during the slalom. But Miller, who said most of the competitors are friends or know each other from competing on the pro rodeo circuit, said it wouldn’t deter him from returning.

“I thought it was wild and out of control,” he said. “I thought it was great. We had a hell of a time.”

Jed Moore, a 14-year veteran of the Cowboy Downhill who coaches rodeo at Colorado North­western Community Col­­lege in Rangely, won the slalom. Saddle bronc rider Sam Spread­­borough took home the honor of best wreck during the slalom.

The Cowboy Downhill began nearly four decades ago when Billy Kidd and Larry Mahan, a six-time All-Around World Champion cowboy, decided to put a few pro rodeo stars on skis.

It’s scheduled to coincide with the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in Denver, which started Jan. 6. Participants must be members of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association or the Professional Bull Riders.

This year’s Cowboy Downhill had a different format, with the two skiing events concluding an afternoon of festivities at Gondola Square that included a performance by New Orleans-based band Cowboy Mouth.

Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokesman Mike Lane said the new format helped draw a crowd to the base of the ski area and along the sides of the racecourse on Stampede.

“It’s such a unique event,” Lane said. “The cowboys are so personable. It fits in with what Steamboat’s all about.”

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