Skijoring Hits Bozeman
Gallatin County Regional Park saw action January 23, 24 that had yet to shake things up in Bozeman! On Saturday and Sunday, skier and riders competed in the first ever Duckworth Montana Classic Skijoring Race.
This was the first such completion to be held in Bozeman, according to event organizer Whitni Ciofalo. Along with being the current Bozeman race director, she is also a Founding Board Member of Skijor America.
82 teams signed up on Friday night to compete in Saturday’s races. 32 of those teams were in the Novice Category, which competed first. Some of the skiers I spoke to had tried the sport before, or had a least practiced a few times, but there was more thanone brave soul who had never attempted before!
When asked what appealed to them about skijoring, the most popular answer from skiers was “the speed.” Bozeman resident Glenn said his reason for wanting to give it a try for the first time was, “It just looks fun!” When I caught up with him after his first run, Glenn was grinning as he told me “It was easier than I thought.” Glenn’s rider was his friend Rick who explained all horses respond differently to towing a rope and skier. Rick’s horse Pepper was indifferent about the experience, a result of being a horse used in Mounted Cowboy Shooting Competitions.
Experienced skijorer Darren Anderson traveled to Bozeman from Vail, Colorado to compete in the weekend’s races. He said the Duckworth Montana Classic was the second stop of the Skijoring America Circuit. Although there was also an event taking place in Driggs, Idaho that weekend, his rider chose Bozeman’s event so he came here because “You go where your horse and rider want to go.”
The races were well attended by skijoring enthusiasts but also many Bozemanites who weren’t familiar with the sport. Some folks were simply out walking their dogs at the park, saw the horses and went over to see what all the fuss was about! No one appeared to be disappointed in what they saw! Crowds cheered as teams raced over ramps and flinched when there was a wreck.
According to the Skijor America website, the history of the sport as it exists today can be traced back to Colorado in the late 1940’s. Two close friends “were impressed by the prospect of skijoring, however, they couldn’t understand why anyone would want to go that slow!”
And so, what was originally used as a form of transportation has transformed into a fast, thrilling, and sometimes dangerous sport. Leave it to Bozeman, a home for many skiers and equestrians, to embrace the sport and finally get it the attention it deserves!