Yesterday marked the 40th edition of Steamboat’s Cowboy Downhill, the annual “ski rodeo” that celebrates the resort’s unique Western history and modern-day ski culture. Seventy-five professional rodeo cowboys and cowgirls traded their bulls and broncs for skis and snowboards in this legendary race series at the base of Mt. Werner.
Events include the Dual Slalom where competitors, in side-by-side courses, raced through gates, launched off a large jump, lassoed a person, saddled a horse and crossed the finish line. While the fastest racer across took home the title, just making it to the end seemed to be reward enough as many cowboys were“bucked” from their skis and snowboards or had to saddle an uneasy steed at the bottom.
Another favorite event is the Stampede – an all-out melee down the same course without the gates. This year, Yvan Jayne was crowned the fastest cowboy on skis for the second year in a row. Dalon Daris, a Saddle Back rider from Oklahoma, took home the title for the best crash after he exploded off the jump and lost all his equipment in the process.
Check out the racing action (and carnage) in this video:
Steamboat’s Ranching History and the Birth of the Cowboy Downhill
When Steamboat became a city in the early 1900s, its primary industry was ranching. It wasn’t until the 1960s that James Temple developed Storm Mountain (later renamed Mt. Werner) into the world-famous ski resort that’s present today. Like many other great Colorado ski resorts, Steamboat continues to celebrate its roots, which bestowed its town with iconic architecture and a rich history.
The Cowboy Downhill was birthed back in 1974 when Billy Kidd, Steamboat’s director of skiing, and Larry Mahan, six-time All-Around World Champion cowboy, had the bright idea to invite a few ProRodeo stars to Steamboat for a day of skiing and riding. Today, the Bud Light Cowboy Downhill has become a truly unique festival featuring cowboys who are excellent skiers to first-timers.
The Cowboy Downhill is always scheduled in January to coincide with the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in Denver. Participants must be entered at the Stock Show and be a member of the ProRodeo Cowboys Association or the Professional Bull Riders to compete in the event.
Even if you missed this year’s festival, you can experience Steamboat’s Western hospitality and unique culture on a ski vacation this season. Find more information about the destination on our Steamboat resort page, or start planning your ski trip by chatting now with a Steamboat Travel Expert.