Utah’s annual skijoring competition was held on Saturday at Soldier Hollow. Skijoring is an event where a skier or snowboarder is pulled by a horse and rider. The group races through a course including jumps, gates, and rings.
Skijoring is not a new sport. Reindeer skijoring occurred in the Nordic Games of 1901, and it was used as transportation for hundreds of years before that. Skijoring behind horses made its way to North America in the early 1900’s.
Brian Gardner and his friend, Joe Loveridge, had seen the sport in Colorado and decided to introduce it to Utah. According to Gardner’s nephew Gavan, “It’s popular out in Colorado where [Brian] used to work, so they kind of took things that they saw out in Colorado and brought a little bit of that back here.” In 2017, the first Utah Skijoring competition occurred in Midway. Its popularity has grown since then, and tickets available for this year’s event sold out in 24 hours!
The Skijoring Utah website explains that it “combines Utah’s signature ski heritage with its cowboy roots, creating a wild, fast-paced, and spectacular event.” Aside from racing, the competition also includes a “big air contest,” where participants try to jump the farthest. Winners of the annual event receive belt buckles, cash, and other prizes.
Park City locals James and Ed Clissold both participated as skiers. “I think competing is fun and the atmosphere here, just hanging out and having everybody here cheering everybody on. It doesn’t matter if it’s the 12-year-old or somebody cruising, it’s just fun to cheer them on,” said James. Ed added, “To combine my two favorite sports of horses and skiing is just an awesome way to spend the day.”
Competitor Cub Keller, from Lehi, was participating with his three boys, including his 4-year-old. “It’s the outdoors, it’s cowboys, it’s skiing, it’s competition, it’s everything all packaged into one event,” he commented.
A full list of 2021 winners, along with photos of the event, can be found at https://www.facebook.com/skijoringutah.