National Geographic’s annual list of eclectic winter trips names Whitefish, Montana as a top destination for its World Skijoring Championships.
[top image: flatheadbeacon.com]
The competition began in Whitefish in 1960, but from the mid-1970s to 2003, there was a long hiatus. Due to skier injuries, the organizers could not obtain the proper insurance, but now this crazy sport is back again.
What is skijoring? Well, pretty much what it looks like. A rider attaches a line to a Western saddle horn, harness or breastplate. A skier hangs on while horse and rider go full tilt, pulling the skier along a racecourse that involves slaloms, jumps and gates. Then the trio tries to survive the gauntlet.
The word “skijoring” comes from the Norwegian word skikjøring, which means “ski driving.” It can be done with sled dogs, horses or motorized vehicles. It came into being as a form of transportation, but remains in existence pretty much for the adrenaline rush of watching and competing in the sport.
The World Skijoring Championships in Whitefish will occur the weekend of January 24, 2014. It includes a $20,000 Open division and a Sport division sanctioned by the North American Ski Joring Association, plus a long jump division where skiiers attempt to get the most airtime possible, with some achieving jumps of over 50 feet. There are also novice divisions for beginners to the sport.
Admission is free for spectators, though parking costs $5. If you can’t make it this year, you can take a virtual vacation to the World Skijoring Championships on Youtube.
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