Cowboys Stampede Steamboat

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Steamboat Springs, CO, Jan. 19--It was a rodeo on the slopes yesterday in Steamboat, CO, for the 26th Annual Bud Light Cowboy Downhill.

This wasn't some dress-up game either. The hats and the howdies are real. As in past years, the daylong event coincided with the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in Denver Jan. 8-23. Skiing ability is not a requisite for the race, instead contestants of the downhill races must be members of the ProRodeo Cowboys Association and entrants at the Denver Stock Show.

You wouldn't have seen Spyder racing suits or the latest from Descente. These racers were decked just as they would be for a day on the range: jeans, chaps, and cowboy hats.

The dual-slalom race kicked off the day on Headwall where the fearless cowboys navigated a slalom course (the first time on skis for many), lassoed a cowgirl, saddled a horse, and then crossed the finish line with the best time. Next, they tackled the Stampede race. In stampede fashion, the cowboys started simultaneously down Headwall with the goal to cross the finish line first and get out of the way of others bombing down behind.

Following the races some ProRodeo cowboys signed autographs. Later on in the evening, country music singer, songwriter, and world champion bareback bronc rider Chris LeDoux gave a mid-mountain performance.

All of this fun contributes about $20,000 to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund, which provides financial assistance to cowboys and cowgirls injured from rodeo competitions. So far, the ski resort is predicting banner proceeds from the event.

"We set two specific goals in developing the format for this years Bud Light Cowboy Downhill - adding a headline country music act and giving back more to the cowboys who make this event possible," said Andy Wirth, Steamboat's marketing director. "With Chris LeDoux's participation, we will be able make our largest contribution ever to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund."