Another Winter Activity in the High Country
Many years ago people across Scandinavian countries were forced to figure out how to travel during the long winter months. Having a lack of resources there was not much option in attempting to create winter travel. Then the genius thought of skiing while being pulled by animals would get the job done: skijoring.
Skijoring is being on a pair of skis, whether it is alpine skis or cross country skis, then being pulled behind dogs, horses, mules, or any available animal to propel you quicker. When it was originally created it sole purpose was for transportation. It is now competitive sport and was almost an Olympic sport. Five states now hold annual skijoring competition, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, New Hampshire and Wyoming.
Due to Summit County’s active lifestyle people are beginning to flock to the idea of skijoring. On a smaller level and more directed at dog awareness and exercise, locals are using cross country trails to learn/teach their k9 companions to skijor. Getting dogs a great amount of exercise as well as using it as a training tool.
The Town of Frisco is making skijoring more accessible to those who are interested. With three classes over the winter of 2015 skijoring is being taught to those who are interested. The teacher of the class Louisa Morrissey wants to bring the excitement and fun of the activity as well as the great training method for our four legged friends.
She mentioned “My training is based in positive reinforcement, and a sense of humor is a required skill set. Learning to smile, laugh, forgive and keep perspective is imperative especially while whizzing along on a pair of skis with your dog out front or while teaching a puppy some etiquette.”
This is another way to enjoy the outdoors in this wonderful county. Also a great way to run your dog, and be with them. Summit County has once again provided a way to truly enjoy this majestic place and its outdoors even if you are not a downhill skier. It also reassures the love for our pets and how this community is doing what they can in order to provide opportunities to do activity with your pet.
Furthermore, our neighboring town Leadville, host’s an annual skijoring competition that is a part of the North American Skijoring Association. This event is always the first week of March, and is one of the competitions that helps crown the best team in skijoring.
These competitions are a little different than what the Town of Frisco is offering to the public. These competitions the skier wears alpine skiing gear as well as protective equipment and are dragged behind a horse through each ski course. The ski courses include jumps, turns and collecting rings throughout. The horses are going about 40 miles per hour and the skier has to try to navigate the course and collect as many rings as possible. The combination of amount of rings and time determine the winner of the race. There is a combination of four judges at each race.
The best way to explain these competitions is it is skiing meets the rodeo with a hint of medieval times. Typically courses are one thousand feet long and include twelve slalom gates, six jousting rings, and three jumps ranging from three to six feet high. In the early 20th century the sport caught the eye of modern Olympic creator Baron Pierre de Coubertin. As a true fan of Nordic sports, as well as off the wall sports he immediately wanted to make this a modern day Olympic tradition. He was able to get seven competitors in 1928 competing on a frozen lake but the complexity of the course had not yet evolved. There were no gates, no rings no jumps. The race was boring and no one in attendance even bothered to write down the winner. Needless to say that is where skijoring’s Olympic dreams ended.
Though the Olympic dream has come and gone for the sports of skijoring it is still excited to watch and it is quite a spectacle. To watch the teams of two compete to make it to Whitefish Montana where the American skijoring championships are held every year, is fun. It is a great family event and an excellent excuse to get outside and enjoy the winter air. Beginning on February 28, 2015 skijoring will be back in Leadville Colorado. Having three different competing levels there is something for everyone. Please come out and enjoy skijoring with your pets here in Frisco Colorado, then head to Leadville to see the professionals behind the horses on the one thousand foot long course on Leadville Colorado’s Main Street!