Skijoring: Pro tips from someone who’s done it once


Explore Big Sky | February, 2019

Skijoring is a unique Western tradition that brings together cowboy and ski culture into a an entertaining spectacle that requires coordination between a horse, rider and skier. PHOTO BY MARK LAROWE


By Bay Stephens EBS Staff Writer

We decided we wanted to represent Outlaw Partners in the second annual Best of the West Showdown skijoring event held in Big Sky Town Center Feb. 9-10. The Big Sky Skijoring Association organized the two-day competition, the fourth of eight races on the Skijoring America circuit which includes stops in Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.  

The event garnered 91 teams competing in junior, women, novice, sport and open categories. Each team was allowed one run a day, though different combinations of horse, rider and skier allowed individuals more than one run per category.

I’d heard of skijoring before—the wedding of ski and cowboy cultures in which a horse and rider tow a downhill skier on a 33-foot rope through a course fraught with jumps, gates, banked turns and sometimes rings for skiers to collect on their arms. Although there are multiple origin stories for this now-Western sport, consensus holds that its roots are in Scandinavia where a mode of winter travel involved directing a horse via long reins from a set of skis behind the steed.

The Western variation added a rider and bets for whose team was fastest, likely aided by the influence of alcohol.

“I’m absolutely thrilled from the feedback from all the competitors, skiers and riders,” said Justa Adams, the Big Sky Skijoring association board member who organized the race. “It was a very fun and safe event. I could not be happier with how it turned out.”

I grew up skiing and had done so behind snowmobiles and boats on lakes: How different could it be skiing behind a horse?

There are certainly similarities, but I learned a thing or two about the wild sport of skijoring while competing for the first time. Ordered not by importance but by the chronology of when each met me, here are some insights into the sport that an audience member might not glean.



Published on 7/17/2019 (321 days ago)

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