Ever heard of it? I hadn’t, at least not until about a month ago when my favorite Aussie told me his plans to compete in the Leadville Skijoring and Crystal Carnival, which took place this past weekend in Leadville, CO. Holly and I had considered heading down to “the highest incorporated city in the US” to check out the action, but had very limited time to cross some big to-dos off our list so we ultimately decided to forego the event. That said, I am reporting on the skijoring happenings from afar–hence the above title.
Turns out skijoring is actually a pretty big deal. Such a big deal that there is a whole organization dedicated to hosting competitions across the USA. Who knew! According to Wikipedia, skijoring takes many different forms (essentially a skier being pulled by something…dogs, horses, snowmobiles, etc.) but for our purpose, we are going to focus on Equestrian Skijoring. Equestrian Skijoring is made up of a team consisting of a horse, a rider, and a skier. The horse and rider take off at full speed whilst pulling the skier, who is connected to the horse via a tow rope. While being pulled at a full gallop down a long straight-away, the skier must launch themselves over jumps of all sizes and navigate slalom gates lining each side of the road, all while remaining in a standing position and maintaining control of their balance. Easy-peasy, right?
Skijoring has been part of Leadville culture since 1949 and takes place each year, the first weekend of March. The weekend is chock-full of winter activities such as, skijoring, nordic sprints, a winter bike race, and a paintball biathlon. The skijoring event consists of three divisions, Open Class for experienced teams, Sport Class for the newbies, and the Legends Class for the skijoring veterans who are “a little long in the tooth for the Open Class”. Tom competed in the Sport Class and held court as the skijoring champ for about three seconds when he bit the dust taking an off-kilter turn after a jump (see below documentation…). Either way, congrats to all who participated. You are a braver (hem hem..crazier??) athlete than I!
For an action-packed skijoring video and to learn more about the sport, click here.