In anticipation of the 36th annual Steamboat Springs Hot Air Balloon Rodeo next month, I’ll share my favorite image from the event’s past. Proof that when you have a balloon festival in an area that is literally trademarked as the nation’s “Ski Town” – interesting photo opportunities present themselves.

So how does a snow skier jump over a hot air balloon in the middle of summer? Here’s a four-image-stitch of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club summer training jump located at Bald Eagle Lake, the same venue as the balloon rodeo.  Out of the frame on the far right side is an elevated ramp where the skiers glide down before launching over one of five jumps into the water.

The top starting area shows the special glide materials placed on the ramp. It’s not every day you see a ski racer in swim trunks and a life jacket!

It’s an amazing experience to watch the festival from atop the ski jumping platform. You’re treated to a beautiful view of the Yampa Valley, the river,  multiple balloons in flight, and the surrounding mountains.

Ski Jumping at the Balloon Rodeo
Canon EOS 7D
Canon EF 24-105 f/4L IS II USM

To capture this image, I pointed my lens to an area where the ski jumpers were peaking in height and then moved sideways until a balloon was also in the frame. Amazingly, it only took 3 tries before skier George Degrandis lined up perfectly with this balloon. The photo has been published in two different hot air balloon magazines and is also used by numerous Steamboat organizations to showcase our town’s unique blend of winter skiing traditions with summertime events.

Maybe one of these days I’ll be one of the skiers in this event. Or at least in the balloon basket 🙂