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National champions flock to Big Sky for skijoring

Posted at 7:08 PM, Mar 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 16:00:57-04

BIG SKY – There are very few sports in the world quite like skijoring, and over the weekend people in Big Sky got the privilege to witness it firsthand.

The sport may look confusing by just watching it, but the guidelines are very simple.

“It’s where a horse and rider pulls a skier through a series of gates and jumps in the least amount of time possible,” said Scott Ping, a board member for Ski Joring America. “It’s three heartbeats.”

And spectators were in for a treat. In just five weeks the Big Sky Skijoring Association was able to put the event together. Not only that, but they were able to get some of the best riders in the country, like national champions Ebbie Hansen and Colin Cook. And the crowd loved the excitement.

“The people are pumped, this place is unbelievable and we have skijoring in our backyard. And this community stepped up,” said Big Sky Skijoring organizer Justa Adams. “I mean, this was just a simple suggestion five weeks ago.”

But skijoring is not just an event for the pros. Riders of all ages, like Jennings Fraser and her father Cam, traveled from Idaho just to compete, and stole the show in the process.

“You just get to hold on to the rope and skijor because you have fun and you just get to do what you like,” Jennings said.

And her father encourages the daredevil in his young daughter, no matter how far she goes in this sport.

“I’m sure I’ll have second thoughts when she’s going 35 miles per hour behind a horse some day, but for now it’s just really fun,” Cam said.

On a mountain, skiers travel at speeds from 10-20 miles per hour. But in skijoring, many of the top racers hit 35-40 miles per hour easily. And on turns, riders can whip around corners at speeds topping around 50 miles per hour.

“I’ve never had something that gives me goosebumps like this in my life,” Adams said.

The rush of adrenaline isn’t the only thing bringing these people back to each event.

“It isn’t about winning, it’s not about money, it’s about family. We’ve met a lot of these folks and they become family and friends within days and weeks,” said Pete Jessen, the director of the BSSA.

This weekend was a success, but the Big Sky Skijoring Association and their partner Ski Joring America are not done.

“We’d like to try and make it an Olympic event, we really would. It was an Olympic event in 1928 in San Moritz,” said Ping.

For now the BSSA is focusing on baby steps. If they can get 82 teams and a few national champions registered in just five weeks, they don’t even know what they are capable of doing in a years time.