Let it Snow

Greenwood Village snowplow
Courtesy City of Greenwood Village

It may be December, but rodeo season is far from finished. Though the roster for the big event has changed quite a bit: Rather than barrel racers, steer wrestlers, calf ropers and bull and bronco riders, it’s snowplow crews and mounds of fluffy flurries that form the standoff.

Things got started in late September at the American Public Work Association’s annual National Snow Roadeo. The competition pits snowplow crews all over the country against each other in a (friendly) rivalry where teams have the chance to show they are the best at wrangling fresh powder. And in the 34 years of the contest’s existence, Greenwood Village drivers have developed a habit of winning.

The Greenwood Village team has taken home four first-place prizes. In 1985, the first year of the competition, the village was one of only three winners. This year, the team was named the best snowplow crew nationwide, a new award at the competition, after finishing first in three events—where, yes, belt buckles (and jackets) did come with the team trophy.

In other words, heightened skills are the reason it usually feels a little different driving on Greenwood Village roads after a big storm. “We always hear that drivers can tell the difference in the streets when they come into Greenwood Village during and after a snowstorm,” says Bob Christensen, a City of Greenwood Village maintenance worker.

Greenwood Village snowplow team
Bob Christensen, Greg Phillips, public works director Jeremy Hanak, Nate Sullivan, Wayne Vehrs. Courtesy City of Greenwood Village

The team is so good because “we have all driven trucks for many years,” says Wayne Vehrs, a City of Greenwood Village parks maintenance mechanic. “And in traffic in Greenwood Village, you’re close to cars with a big plow on a truck— you end up getting a lot of experience out of that.”

The competition, held at the Western Snow and Ice Conference, consists of five events each with 40 to 60 competitors on average, varying by event, and three different portions: a 10-question written test on knowledge of techniques and strategies, a diagnostic test challenging a driver’s ability to perform pretest inspections and—the most watch-worthy segment—tight obstacle courses evaluating driving skills..

Most competitors use the time as training too. Mother Nature, after all, can make for a wild ride.