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Skijoring: The wildest winter sport not in the Olympics

 

By Rick Maes | Washington Post

Jorge Calzadillas races during the 68th annual Leadville Ski Joring weekend competition in Leadville, Colo. (JASON CONNOLLY/AFP/Getty Images)

A team consists of a competitor in a saddle, another on two skis and also a horse on four hoofs. The playing field is a blanket of snow and includes a variety of jumps and obstacles. The goal is to go fast and, if all goes as planned, also stay upright.

“Once you hear, you can’t forget,” says Matt Crossett, who first discovered the sport a few years back. “Adrenaline. Hoofs pounding. Cowboy screams.”

Perhaps the coolest and most curious winter sport takes place halfway around the world from PyeongChang, South Korea. It’s called skijoring and is largely rooted in small communities around the Rocky Mountains. The sport involves a ski racer clinging to a rope as he’s being towed by a racing horse. The rider in the saddle guides the team through an obstacle course, racing the clock as they weave around cones, grab rings and navigate the skier over jumps. It’s a spectacle, an unlikely marriage of skiers and cowboys, and the skijoring events often feel like a winter carnival with drinking, family activities and the occasional side bet.

While there’s a Nordic version of the sport that involves being pulled by dogs, the Western version involves horses and organizers say it’s growing in popularity. This year, Ski Joring America, a governing body for the sport, helped stage events in Montana, Colorado, Idaho, Utah and Wisconsin — and every year they’re adding more participants and more events.

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Published on 8/16/2019 (96 days ago)

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