STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A perfect Diamond Hitch requires agility, precision tension on the rope, communication with your diamond-mates and, most importantly, a hearty smile and wave.
As the diamonds squeezed into something more similar to a line, skiers in this year’s Winter Carnival Diamond Hitch Parade often scrambled to slow down or catch up to their spot in the rope tow, but even the clumsiest diamond-riders aced a parade wave.
Anyone can participate in the parade, but to be judged, entrants must ski in a Diamond Hitch in which at least four skiers holding onto a rope in the shape of one or more diamonds. Animals, people or tracked vehicle pull the skiers down a snow-covered Lincoln Avenue.
Those in Diamond Hitches earn points for dressing according to the Winter Carnival theme and holding the diamond position throughout the route.
Steel Leary is a veteran parade skier. For him, skiing in the parade with Cub Scout Pack 194 was a change of pace, considering he’s usually trying to get to the bottom of the mountain as fast as possible downhill skiing in the Winter Sports Club.
“It’s different because you’re not really turning, and you’re going a lot slower,” he said.
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His trick to maintain formation: make sure you stay spread far apart from the other members of your diamond.
Another experienced Diamond Hitch skier, Routt County’s State Representative Dylan Roberts, offered the same advice.
“Get as far out as you can and pull it tight, so (others) can even it out,” he said. “Just hold on. Pull hard to the side, and let the horse do the work.”
“And don’t be afraid to snowplow if you have to,” Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kim Bonner chimed in.
“And if you fall, let go of the rope,” Roberts said.
“Definitely let go of the rope,” Commissioner Beth Melton agreed. “The only time you have to turn is to avoid the horse poop.”
Winter Sports Club skier Josh Herron, age 8, has a simple piece of advice that skiers and riders of all skill levels can use to avoid falling into the snow — and the manure.
“Balance,” he said.