NW SnowSports: Ski Joring

Where horses and skiing intersect for spectator fun

By Hilary Meyerson

Photo at right: A ski jorer catches air at the Sandpoint Winter Carnival. Photo courtesy of Bonner County Daily Bee

At some point in history, some adventurous Scandinavian said, “Hey I love skiing and I love horses. How can I get these things together?” Lo, equestrian ski joring was born.

Less adventurous (read: saner) folks might be familiar with dog ski joring, a common sight in many snowy climes, where dogs pull along a Nordic skier. This is something else entirely.

Idaho’s 2012 Ski Joring event (part of its winter carnival festivities) last February drew more than 2,500 spectators out to watch 23 teams of skiers and horses streaking through a snowy course filled with jumps, obstacles and gates in Sandpoint. Indeed, the crowd is part of the event. The excitement is infectious as they cheer the horses to greater speeds. It might be the most unusual winter competition you’ve seen.

Photo courtesy of Bonner County Daily Bee.

“The culture behind it is really neat. You have skiers and horses coming together,” says Mack Diebel of the Greater Sandpoint Chamber.” It’s really neat to see the skier work the rope. It’s amazing how fast these horses move on snow.”

The Sandpoint event is held at the Bonner County Fairgrounds, and the course is set up in a horseshoe shape. The skiers will clear jumps and land on flat ground, while also slaloming around gates—no easy feat. World Champion and Sandpoint Ski Joring Champion, Cody Smith, will make his return in 2013 to try to defend his title. It’s a must-see event! www.sandpoint.org/wintercarnival


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