Image above: Skijoring in downtown Leadville, Colorado. Image taken by: Bennett Austin (Dogmatic Photography)
Wisps 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 most of us have never seen or even heard of!
What The Heck Is Skijoring?
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?
Whitefish, MT Festival Dates
Saturday – January 25, 2020
11:30 am Opening Ceremony, 12:00 pm Main Event – Big Mountain Ranch
7:00 pm Calcutta – Casey’s Pub & Grill
Sunday – January 26, 2020
11:30 am Opening Ceremony, 12:00 pm Competition – Big Mountain Ranch
7:00 pm Award Ceremony – Great Northern Bar
Full List Of Skijoring U.S. & Canada Races
If you can’t make it to the World Invitational, don’t worry. There are several stops all across the country! Let us know if you make it to a race and share your experience.
January 18th & 19th * Lincoln, Montana
January 25th & 26th * Lewiston, Montana
February 1st & 2nd * Bozeman, Montana
February 8th & 9th * Saratoga, Wyoming
February 8th & 9th * Helena, Montana
February 15th & 16th * Pinedale, Wyoming
February 22nd & 23rd * Sheridan, Wyoming
February 29th & March 1st * Boulder, Montana
February 29th & March 1st * West Yellowstone, Montana