Action-packed fun for both participants and spectators

By Erin Stadelman

[December 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage]

THE WINTER SPORT CALLED SKIJORING began in 1901 in Stockholm, Sweden, with men being pulled by running reindeer while on skis. The sport has become very competitive when being pulled behind dogs, motor vehicles, or horses. In Ouray County, we race behind horses. Equine skijoring began in 1926 at the Chamonix International Winter Sports Week Games, which set the stage for its inclusion as an exhibition sport at the 1928 Winter Olympic Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland. In 1976, Denver, Colorado listed skijoring as an exhibition sport in their bid for the Winter Olympics. Denver won the bid, but ultimately decided against exhibiting the event.

Today, in Europe, equine skijoring gets the most exposure during White Turf in St. Moritz, Switzerland. White Turf, an event which features horse racing on snow as well as chariot racing, and skijoring, began in 1907 and draws over 35,000 spectators a day.

In the United States, there are many popular venues for watching this exciting speed event that combines the pure, unencumbered strength of a horse with the control and skill of skiing. Montana has events in Helena, Butte, Wisdom, Bozeman, Polson, Red Lodge, Whitefish, Big Sky, and West Yellowstone. Wyoming brings the high-octane sport to Jackson Hole, Saratoga, Sundance, Pinedale, and Cokeville. In our very own state of Colorado, you can take in the adrenaline rush at Silverton, Gunnison, Pagosa Springs, Kremmling, Steamboat Springs, and (of course) Ridgway.

San Juan Skijoring takes place at the Ouray County Fairgrounds on January 11 & 12, 2020. This will be the 4th year for this very popular winter event. The fairgrounds plays host to competitors from as far away as New York and as near as Ridgway. The event is totally action-packed and includes some activities for the kids and a beer garden for the adults. Vendors will be on hand with a hot meal, souvenirs, and even a hot toddy for those with a chill. Go to San Juan for more information and to buy your tickets in advance. The 2019 event brought more than 3,000 spectators a day…snow or shine.

Images, courtesy of San Juan Skijoring