Ski Joring is one of Montana’s extreme winter sports that mixes two of Big Sky Country’s favorites: horses and skiing.
The spectator-friendly event scheduled for the weekend of January 25-27, 2013 is now in its 10th year, and will feature an exciting combination of horses, (and mules), riders, and skiers mixed with speed, jumps, and of course, snow, as competitors vie for an estimated purse of over $20,000.
The competition takes place at the snow-covered Whitefish Municipal Airport grounds with Opening Ceremonies beginning on Saturday, January 26 at 11:30am. featuring Whitefish Winter Carnival Royalty. The ski joring events start at noon on Saturday, January 26th and Sunday, January 27th. Multiple local establishments will offer a wide variety of food and beverage selections throughout the event, including sponsors Casey’s Bar and Grill and the Great Northern Brewing Company. Spectators are free. There is a nominal $5 per vehicle parking fee with proceeds donated to the non-profit Human Therapy on Horseback with plenty of on-site parking.
Modern ski joring involves a horse and rider pulling a skier around a horseshoe shaped 700-foot-long course at high speeds, with the skier required to navigate over jumps and around slalom gates. The sport of ski joring began several hundred years ago in Scandinavia as a way to travel during the long winters, with skiers back then pulled by dogs. Ski joring found its way to North America, where bored ranch hands attached a long rope to the saddle horn, and galloped on a horse at high speeds down a long straight-away.
The public is invited to the evening events as well. The Registration Party will be Friday, January 25th, from 6:00 – 9:00 pm. in the tallest building in downtown Whitefish — the Black Star Draught House.
On Saturday evening the public can get into the big money competition at the Calcutta, overseen by professional rodeo announcer Joe Warner, who auctions off all the teams based on Sunday’s results, with an 80% payback to those winning the bidding. The Calcutta starts off at 7 pm. Saturday, January 26th at Casey’s Bar & Grill.
The Awards Party will be held Sunday, January 27th at 5:00 pm. at the Craggy Range in downtown Whitefish, with locally famous entertainer John Dunnigan.
For more information go to www.whitefishskijoring.com.
feature photo: MATT MILLS MCKNIGHT