What’s more fun than cruising down a mountain on skis? Getting towed behind a horse or team of dogs down the street on skis, of course.

According to Skijor International, an organization that aims to represent the next “up and coming” extreme winter sport, the sport originated thousands of years ago in the Altai Mountains of Central Asia at the confluence of Russia, China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan as a form of transportation. Laplanders (people from the modern Finland region) also harnessed reindeer and other animals to travel across vast snowy terrain on Nordic skis. The name skijoring originates from the Norwegian term, meaning “ski driving.”  

The sport arrived in North America in the 1940s after World War II when the 10th Mountain Division used the sport before ski resorts and lifts existed. The soldiers roped their cowboy friends into towing them behind horses, which evolved into the skijoring races we can watch today.

Today, competitive skiers are pulled behind horses and riders at speeds up to 60 miles per hour. The skiers are timed through the course, and penalties are assessed by missing gates or jumps, and by missing or dropping the baton or any of the rings. The competitors race for cash prizes, and teams are made up by a random draw before the start.

Skijoring is a unique discipline of the sport of skiing with a history that helped evolve skiing overall. In a state like Colorado, where we love to ski and ride horses, it only makes sense to experience the combination first hand.

Skijoring Events in Colorado

Steamboat Springs’ annual Winter Carnival offers a great opportunity to witness skijoring first hand right on the town’s iconic main street. Children and adults can participate in the sport, and the event is highly anticipated each year.

Leadville also hosts the annual Running of Leadville Skijoring event where competitors race through a challenging course. The event is an official Skijor International event.

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