Winter Carnival: Western lifestyle, skiing mix in fun street events | SteamboatToday.com

Winter Carnival: Western lifestyle, skiing mix in fun street events

A competitor participates in the shovel race during the 2013 Winter Carnival street events.

— Local radio personality Brian Harvey serves as the emcee for many Steamboat gatherings throughout the year, but the Winter Carnival street events are among his favorites.

"It ranks right up there with July 4," Harvey said. "You get to see all these kids and call out names that are potential Olympians and World Cup athletes."

Harvey could not recall exactly how many years he has been providing play-by-play and color commentary, but he said he only has missed it once. Longtime local Gardner Flanigan had to fill in last year at the last minute because Harvey was in the hospital with pneumonia.

"I literally called Gardner that Saturday," Harvey said.

Harvey said he pleaded with doctors to let him go.

"I was like, 'Please? I really want to,'" Harvey said.

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Harvey called the street events "the ultimate community event," and there are a lot of highlights for the spectators who line Lincoln Avenue five or six people deep.

In the donkey jump competition, young athletes between 6 and 14 years old are pulled by horses and ski or snowboard down the snow-covered street. They are competing for distance as they are launched into the air after hitting a jump.

"The younger kids, because they are lighter, can sometimes outjump their older brothers and sisters," Harvey said.

The donkey jump serves as a good example of just how fearless Steamboat youths are when it comes to athletic competitions. The event always results in at least a few spectacular crashes, but the kids usually get right up unscathed.

The street events run from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 8, and from 9 to 11 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 9. Competitors must register for many of the events beforehand at http://www.steamboatwintercarnival.com.

Children don't just like to participate in the events. They rush to sign up, and many events are full by 9 a.m.

The Ring and Box, Ring and Spear, skijoring, street slalom and donkey jump events all lead to children being dragged behind charging horses ridden by area ranchers.

They drop rings in a box in Ring and Box, try to spear five suspended rings in Ring and Spear, race for times in the skijoring and street slalom events and jump for distance in the donkey jump.

Children also dominate in the Children's Dash, which sends children from 5 to 11 years old on sprints of 25, 50 or 75 yards. The three-legged race has two age divisions for children and, of course, requires that each child wear one ski.

There's an obstacle course, traditional except for the ski requirement, and the Dad and Dog dashes, which at least replace a horse, albeit with dear old Dad on all fours or the family pet.

There's plenty of opportunity for children to shine, and a few for adults, as well. The shovel race is a longtime favorite. Anyone 18 and older can plop down on a shovel and be dragged to the far end of the street by a horse.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

Street events

■ Ring and Box (ages 6 to 9): Horses pull skiers who must drop rings in washtub.

■ Ring and Spear (ages 6 to 9): Horses pull 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 2-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. This race is followed by the:

■ Dad Dash, in which dads pull the sled on all fours (the sleds cannot have metal runners).

■ Children’s Dash (25-yard dash ages 3 to 5, 75-yard dash ages 9 to 11, 150-yard dash ages 11 to 14).

■ 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 4 to 6, 7 to 10 and 11 to 14): Skiers maneuver around obstacles and race to the finish line.