Red Lodge Mountain sits in the middle of cowpoke country famous for its summer rodeos. The resort dabbled in its own rodeo last winter to such great success that it plans not only to celebrate the Cowboy Downhill Rodeo again this winter, but make it an annual winter carnival-type of event.
The cowboy downhill happens at high noon, of course, Jan. 17. The downhill course on Showoff Alley consists of jumps, gates, and a practice steer-head propped in hay bails. Successful racing requires both roping skills and skiing or riding ability. "A lot of talent is needed. You have to ski down with rope in hand and rope the steer's head," Marketing Manager Robert Drake told Onthesnow.com. "Competitors must go through the finish line standing up and are disqualified if they miss roping the head."
The race, which requires no entry fee, uses a shotgun start, but breaks competitors into heats of about six. First through the finish line wins, similar to a boarder- or skier-cross. Finals consist of a runoff between heat winners. "You really need to shoot out in front," explained Drake, adding that the crowd appeal is huge, especially when skiers get caught up in their ropes.
The rodeo mayhem continues in the Bierstube after the race. Coors, one of the event's sponsors, brings in some of its pro rodeo riders for the day, and a mechanical bull completes the scene. Jack Daniels, another sponsor, lends its custom-built, black-and-white pro rodeo circuit chaps for the bar girls to wear. Live music comes from Jawbone Railroad.
Red Lodge staff dons their Wranglers, chaps, ten-gallon hats, and bandanas for the day, and visitors are encouraged to garb up, too.