Snow(plow) skills: 2023 Snowplow Roadeo champions crowned

Snowplows are quite the engineering marvel. These heavy, powerful and immensely strong beasts of machines can toss literal tons of snow around in mere minutes without breaking a sweat, much like how nuclear Godzilla tossed around King Ghidorah in the movie “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.”

Despite their size and weight, operating one of these vehicles requires absolute finesse, focus and wit, especially in parking lots and narrow roads. It’s more than just moving snow around; it’s essential to keeping RTD moving in the toughest of conditions. For RTD’s dedicated snowplow operators, the Snowplow Roadeo serves as a proving ground to put their skills to the test -- and to earn the championship crown and a trip to represent RTD on the big stage at the Western Snow & Ice Conference and National Snow Roadeo in Loveland Sept. 27-29.

Snowplow backs into designated parking spot
A snowplow operator backs their plow into a simulated alley dock to score points for their team. The operator must back in to the simulated alley dock as possible without knocking over any cones or wooden planks. Credit: Karen Young

Last Friday, 12 teams of snowplow operators took to District Shops to navigate a challenging obstacle course that included going through a serpentine course in reverse, reversing into a tight alley dock without hitting any barrels or rails, and plowing snow between simulated parked cars. Judges scored based on precision and time.

Additionally, the teams had to complete a written test and perform an accurate snowplow truck inspection, both of which affected the final results.

After a thrilling day of competition, the team of Dave Johnson and John Prather took the top spot of the single-axle podium, while the team of Manny Martinez and Cory Reese claimed victory in the tandem category. Below are the podium results from both categories:

Single-axle competition

  1. John Prather and Dave Johnson
  2. Manuel Padilla and Zach Lamorie
  3. Richard “Chip” Seedroff and John Richards

Tandem competition

  1. Manny Martinez and Cory Reese
  2. Martha Guzman and Alex Martinez-Casillas
  3. Daniel Guerrero and Heriberto Martinez-Casillas

Prather, Johnson, Martinez and Reese will all head to Loveland next month to challenge the best snowplow operators in their respective categories from across the United States in the American Public Works Association’s National Snow Roadeo. RTD wishes the teams the best of luck as they aim to claim the title of national champion!

RTD snowplow operators and staff pose between two trucks for group photo
RTD's Facilities Maintenance staff and Snowplow Roadeo competitors celebrate a successful roadeo. Credit: Karen Young