"Lock up your daughters and hide your wives. The bull riders are in town." That's what was heard in the Steamboat gondola Tuesday, as the top professional rodeo cowboys from the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Australia traded in their bulls and broncos for skis and snowboards in the 37th Annual Cowboy Downhill in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
These 71 cowboys and cowgirls are all members of the ProRodeo Cowboys Association or Professional Bull Riders, entered in the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in Denver. The athletes headed up to the mountains from the Front Range to try some time on the slopes. These are guys with names like Howdy, Dusty, Tag, Spud, Jesse James, and Stormy. Then there's Shank Stephens from Hinton, Okla., admittedly a beginner skier, who had the morning to practice before the big race. "This lady stopped and I didn't know how to stop so I went up on the side of the mountain and did a sweet little old flip. It was pretty cool stuff."
The cowboys all participated in a dual slalom, testing their speed and skills over a large jump. They then had to do some lassoing, and saddle a horse before crossing the finish line. Jed Moore from Cheyenne, Wyo., won the dual slalom.
The Cowboy Stampede ended the festivities when the cowboys storm down the mountain in a winner-takes-all race. Marc Gill from Laramie, Wyo., was first one down the hill. Steamboat's Director of Skiing is Olympian Billy Kidd who said, "The first one to the finish is the winner until he turns around and sees the other cowboys, and a lot of them don't know how to turn or stop."
Kidd started the event 37 years ago with Larry Mahan, six-time All-Around World Champion cowboy. The event is still going strong with live music, learn-to-rope clinics, and a farm animal petting zoo on Gondola Square.
Check out this video from the Cowboy Downhill.