Today just might be – hands down – my favorite day of the winter as a born-and-raised Steamboat native. Nothing got you more excited than the Soda Pop Slalom, Street Events, the Lighted Man, and the rest of the Night Show Extravaganza. While I do my part to buy my button and watch the night show, I don’t have nearly the involvement I did throughout my formative years. I also took part in the Parent-Child Downhill, the Donkey Jump, the night show, and was chosen as an Attendant in the Royalty.

As a youngster I snaked my way down Howelsen face with flares, and as I progressed through the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, I worked my way up to launching off the 70m Nordic jump through the Fire Hoop. I remember the cold nights waiting at the top of Howelsen in the pitch dark anxious to light our flares. All the while happy and laughing hysterically with my closest friends. I remember the sulfur smell of the flares, and how we were instructed to keep them swirling in circles. I remember gathering at the bottom and getting to throw the spent flares in one of many toboggan sleds used by the “old guys” jumping through the Fire Hoop with a toboggan on fire.

The thrill of the Diamond Hitch Parade, who got the fastest pull horse for the Donkey Jump, and who wore the best “retro” clothes to burn holes in from the flares are memories as vivid as if they took place just a year ago. I envy the groms of Steamboat who get to take part in the festivities of the Winter Carnival. I’ll be there on main street tomorrow watching it all unfold as it has for 103 years.

I scrounged through old photo albums and found a few memories to share with you all!

Honored to get named as Attendant the one year of High School I wasn’t off ski racing with the U.S. Ski Team. I’m third from the left in the back row.
Preparing for the Donkey Jump
Donkey Jump action shot. Backseat rider!
Ripping my way down Soda Pop Slalom.

If I could could go back and do it all over again, I would! Winter Carnival is the most magical time of the winter! I’m so happy to see the Snow Sculptures back and looking fantastic. Thank you, Steamboat, for rallying to make an iconic part of the week happen again!

Take time to give thanks for everything we get to see and do here in Steamboat and the Yampa Valley. We are truly blessed! For those who visit during this time–thank you for supporting one of the heartbeats of Steamboat.

Brett Buckles, Alpine skier

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