Boat People - S03
From wrestling steers to riding herd on ATVs Steamboat Springs may no longer be a place where cowboys ride the range full-time and make a living at it, but the valley is still home to rodeo star Chad Bedell. “We’re still a cowboy-flavored town,” Chad says. “You see it in the activities that are offered here, like chariot racing. The Steamboat rodeo used to be a jackpot, but it has evolved into a well established rodeo.” As a professional rodeo rider for 12 years, Chad traveled throughout the United States, especially the West: Washington, Oregon, Texas, Louisiana, the Southwest. “That was one fun part,” he says. “But I never saanything that made me want to leave Clark.” A rural community 25 miles north of Steamboat Springs in the Elk River Valley, Clark is old-time cowboy country. Chad’s granddad used to ski the mail from Clark to Columbine; his Uncle Buster would take it on to Slater. “Back then, not many people lived past Clark in the winter.” Chad’s parents, Orval and Sharon, took their livestock every winter to Jensen, Utah, where Chad and his brother, Travis, attended school. Wrestling for his high school led to wrestling steers. It was apparently a good road to take to rodeo fame: Chad won the world championship in steer wrestling in 1996. He retired from the circuit in 1998 and returned to Clark, where he helps run Steamboat Lake Outfitters, a year-round business that includes cabins, a cafe, pack trips, ATV & horseback riding, fishing, hunting and snowmobile tours. “Tourism pays the bills,” he says. “We still have family farms and ranches in the valley, but the owners and operators have to pick up other lines of work to keep their families here,” Chad says. “Steamboat Springs is still a good place to be.”Ultra-cycling champion seeks long, tough races Downhill skiing brought Katie Lindquist to Steamboat Springs, but cross country skiing and biking are what keep her here. “Ultra-cyclist” might be a good word to describe Katie. Back when the Leadville 100 was the longest, toughest mountain bike race there was, Katie was racing it. “Nobody made events better than that back then,” she recalls. “I did that, and I loved it.” That led to increasingly challenging on- and off-road races throughout the country. In 2000, she was the world champion 24-hour racer in both road and mountain bike racing. Those races fade by comparison to Katie’s penultimate challenge: the Race Across America. She and fellocyclist George Thomas entered the race in 2000 as a tandem team. The race covered 3,000 miles from Portland, Ore., to Pensacola, Fla. The pair finished in 11 days, 16 hours. “We had one goal: to finish as friends. I had a ball. It’s really an incredible emotional experience. You’re up, then down. We were the only tandem to finish. No other tandem had finished RAAM. The following year, Katie attempted the race solo. It was the only race Katie has not finished. Exhaustion forced her to withdraafter seven days and 1,526 miles. “It’s grueling,” Katie says. “It’s the hardest event to do.” Katie first came to Steamboat as a ski instructor in 1994; since then she has put down roots. She met her husband, Kent Erickson (founder of Moots Cycles), through a mutual friend. “We are definitely birds of a feather,” she says. The couple was married on their property in Strawberry Park last fall. When she’s not racing, Katie is an organic food inspector. She visits farms, food processors and handlers who are seeking to certify their products as organic. In the winter, Katie and Emily McWatter promote cross country skiing through their business, The Nordic Link, which offers training, tours and packages for classic and skate skiing.Cowboy doctor ridin’ high Being a native of Rifle and a cowboy, to boot, has worked in Michael Sisk’s favor. Ironically, it was saddle bronc riding that led to his career choice. “Rodeo is the ultimate extreme sport,” Dr. Sisk says. “It’s not a question of if, but when and hobad you’re going to get hurt. By the time I was in high school, I kneso many orthopedic surgeons, I figured if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” he recalls. Dr. Sisk attended the University of Colorado, both for his undergraduate studies and his medical degree. “I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving Colorado. Being on the Front Range for 13 years was bad enough,” he says. From the beginning, his goal was to establish his practice in Steamboat. “This place has got to be the most gorgeous place in the world,” he says. “I can’t even fathom holucky I am to be here. A world-class ski resort, and I’m one of the orthopods who gets to work here? Are you kidding me? This is better than I ever expected. It’s a dream come true.” One of the benefits of practicing in Steamboat is the neYampa Valley Medical Center. “It’s a state-of-the-art facility. We can do procedures here that can’t be done in bigger cities.” Another reason Dr. Sisk loves Steamboat is the rodeo. “We have such a great little pro rodeo here in town. It was voted the best small outdoor rodeo in the nation by the whole PRCA. That’s a huge honor for Steamboat.” Although his full-time rodeo days are behind him, Dr. Sisk still competes at home. His wife, Megan, raises Morgans and competes as an equestrian jumper. They are expecting their first child this summer. He hopes to be an inspiration to youngsters. “I started out thinking I was going to be a game warden,” he says. “It just goes to shoyou that with lots of hard work and a little direction from your folks, you can aspire to be anything you want.” Even a cowboy doctor.