Horses, Cowboys & Skiing Oh My!

Skijoring in downtown Leadville, Colorado Image taken by: Dogmatic Photography

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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

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! Let us know if you make it to a race and share your experience.

Dec 28th & December 29th * Kalispell, Montana

January 11th & 12th * Ridgway, Colorado

January 18th & 19th * Lincoln, Montana

January 18th & 19th * Steamboat Springs, Colorado

January 25th & 26th * Pagosa Springs, Colorado

January 25th & 26th * Whitefish, Montana

snowing san juan skijoring ouray county fairgrounds
San Juan Skijoring event in Ridgway Colorado – Image Appears Courtesy: San Juan Skijoring

January 25th & 26th * Lewiston, Montana

February 1st & 2nd * Bozeman, Montana

February 1st & 2nd * Jackson, Wyoming

February 8th & 9th * Saratoga, Wyoming

February 8th & 9th * Helena, Montana

February 15th & 16th * Hailey, Idaho (Sun Valley)

February 15th & 16th * Silverton, Colorado

February 15th & 16th * Pinedale, Wyoming

February 21st & 22nd * Midway, Utah

February 22nd & 23rd * Sheridan, Wyoming

February 29th & March 1st * Boulder, Montana

February 29th & March 1st * West Yellowstone, Montana

March 7th & 8th * Big Sky, Montana

March 7th & 8th * Leadville, Colorado

March 7th * Crowsnest, Alberta

March 14th & 15th * Red Lodge, Montana


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