Horses, Cowboys, & Skiing oh my!

Whisps of steam come out of his nose and mouth.  His muscles twitch in excitement, ready for the start of the race.  With a strong kick in the ribs, they’re off!  The cowboy hat flies off the rider as man, horse, and skier rush through the course tackling obstacles and turns at lightning speed.  What am I talking about?  Skijoring!  It’s European and Western at the same time.  An event the likes of most of us have never seen or even heard of!

What the heck is Skijoring?

Skijoring downtown Leadville Colorado Cowboy Winter

Skijoring in downtown Leadville, Colorado Image taken by: Bennett Austin (Dogmatic Photography)

In Europe, people used horses and skis as a mode of transportation.  It’s understandable that the term is derived from the Norwegian word kjøring, meaning to “drive.”  If you combine that with the term “ski”, Skijoring roughly translates to “Ski driving”, which is a competitive sport where a skier or snowboarder is pulled by a person riding a horse through an obstacle course filled with jumps, bumps, and turns.  Talk about an adrenaline rush!  It’s pure chaos and just as exciting to watch in person.

Where to watch Skijoring

Like most other sports, there is a Skijoring tour every winter across North America.  The largest race on the schedule is held in Whitefish, Montana.  Skijoring has been part of their Winter Carnival since the 60’s but due to insurance problems was stopped in the late 70’s.  With the resolve of a mountain town spirit, a local businessman by the name of Scott Ping helped bring back this amazing event in 2003.  One of the unique items of the Whitefish event is the Calcutta.

 

What is a Calcutta?

It’s an opportunity to bid on teams to see how you think they will do during Sunday’s event.  You can buy a team by being the top bidder for the team.  If the team you bet on has the fastest time on Sunday, you win!  Money is awarded for the top 3 teams in each division: Open, Sport and Novice.  If that wasn’t enough, a portion of the money raised in the Calcutta is shared with the Wings Cancer Support Group and Human Therapy on Horseback.  A fundraiser, a chance to win some money, AND have a good time… What else could you ask for?

Festival Dates

Saturday January 28, 2017

11:30 am Opening Ceremony, 12:00 pm Main Event – Whitefish Airport

7:00 pm Calcutta – Casey’s Pub & Grill

Sunday January 29, 2017

11:30 am Opening Ceremony, 12:00 pm Competition – Whitefish Airport

7:00 pm Award Ceremony – Casey’s Pub & Grill

 

Full list of Skijoring U.S. Races

Whitefish Skijoring Championship crowd winter

Photo from Whitefish Skijoring Championship Image courtesy: Ski Joring America

If you can’t make it to the World Invitational, don’t worry.  There are several stops all across the country including Wisconsin!  Let us know if you make it to a race and share your experience.

Dec 31st & January 1st   *  Lakeside, Montana

January 7th & 8th *   Ridgway, Colorado

January 14th & 15th   *   Red River, New Mexico

January 14th & 15th *   Bozeman, Montana

January 21st & 22nd  *   Lincoln, Montana

January 28th & 29th  *   Whitefish, Montana

February 11th *  Columbus, Wisconsin

February 18th & 19th  *  Hailey, Idaho (Sun Valley)

February 18th & 19th   *  Silverton, Colorado

March 11th & 12th   *  Red Lodge, Montana

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