Skijoring (pronounced /ˈskiːʃɜːrɪŋ/) is a winter sport where a
person on skis is pulled by a horse, a dog (or dogs) or a motor
vehicle. It is derived from the Norwegian word skikjøring meaning ski
1.3 Techniques and training
2 Equestrian skijoring
3 Motorized skijoring
3.1 In the media
4 See also
6 External links
Horse skijoring links
Dog skijoring links
Skijoring with a dog is a sport in which a dog (or dogs) assist a
cross-country skier. One to three dogs are commonly used. The
cross-country skier provides power with skis and poles, and the dog
adds additional power by running and pulling. The skier wears a
skijoring harness, the dog wears a sled dog harness, and the two are
connected by a length of rope. There are no reins or other signaling
devices to control the dog; the dog must be motivated by its own
desire to run, and respond to the owner's voice for direction.
Many breeds of dog participate in skijoring. The only prerequisite is
a desire to run down a trail and pull, which is innate in many dogs.
Small dogs (less than 40 pounds) are rarely seen skijoring, because
they do not greatly assist the skier; however, since the skier can
provide as much power as is required to travel, any enthusiastic dog
can participate. Athletic dogs such as Pointers, Setters and herding
breeds take to skijoring with glee, as do the northern breeds, such as
Siberian and Alaskan Huskies, Malamutes, Samoyeds, and Inuit dogs;
however, any large energetic dog is capable of enjoying this sport.
Golden Retrievers, Giant Schnauzers, Labs,[clarification needed] and
many cross-breeds are seen in harness. Pulling breeds work well also
such as American Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers, American bull
dogs, and mastiffs.
The sport is practiced recreationally and competitively, both for long
distance travel and for short (sprint) distances.
Since many leashed dogs naturally tend to pull a skier with no
training, the sport cannot claim a single country of origin. As a
competitive sport, however, it is believed that the first races were
held in Scandinavia as an offshoot of the older sport of Pulka.
Competitive racing has been taken up in North America while its older
Pulka racing has not yet become popular.
Skijor races are held in many countries where there is snow in winter.
Most races are between 5 kilometers and 20 kilometers in length. The
longest race is the Kalevala held in Kalevala, Karelia, Russia,
with a distance of 440 kilometres (270 mi). Next is the River
Runner 120 held in Whitehorse, Yukon, with a distance of 120 miles
(190 km). In the United States and Canada, skijoring races are
often held in conjunction with sled dog races. In Scandinavia, skijor
racing is tightly associated with the older Scandinavian sport of
Skijoring races are not normally limited to purebred Northern
breed dogs such as the Siberian Husky. On the contrary, the top ranked
racing teams in the world are German Shorthaired Pointers,
Greyhound mixes, Alaskan Huskies, or crosses between these
Although some races are unsanctioned, held under the sole guidance of
a local club, many races fall under one of three international
organizations. In the United States and Canada, ISDRA (International
Dog Racing Association) sanctions many races. In Europe ESDRA
Dog Racing Association) provides sanctioning, and the
IFSS (International Federation of Sleddog Sports) sanctions World Cup
races all over the world, as well as a world championship race every
two years. At the IFSS World championship event, skijoring races are
separated into men's and women's, and one-dog and two-dog
categories. The USA held the world's largest
Skijoring event in
February 2011 at the City of Lakes Loppet in Minneapolis. 200
Skijoring teams raced in this event which included the first ever
The skijoring belt worn by the skier is a wide waistband which is
clipped around the skier's waist, and which may include leg loops to
keep it in position.
Rock Climbing harnesses are also commonly used as
The sled dog harness can be any of the several types of dog harness
commonly used for dogsled racing.
The skijoring line is usually at least 1.5 metres (8 feet) long.
A longer line is used for a three-dog team. A section of bungee cord
is often incorporated into the line to absorb the impact of the dog's
forward motion or a quick stop by the skier.
hitches or hooks are available, used so that the skijorer may unhook
the dog's lead rapidly.
Techniques and training
The skier uses either a classic diagonal stride cross-country
technique, or the faster skate skiing technique. In races, the
skate-skiing technique is almost exclusively used. The skis are hot
waxed from tip to tail, to avoid slowing the dog team down. Classic
skis with grip wax are not used for races but are occasionally used
for extended back-country travel.
Skijoring dogs are taught the classic dog sledding commands to start
running (hike), turn (gee and haw—right and left respectively in the
US), to stop (whoa) and to pass distractions (on by). Training is best
done on foot, before the person straps on their skis, to avoid being
pulled into objects, like trees or half-frozen creeks.
To participate in races, skijoring dogs must be taught to pass, or be
passed by other teams without interfering with them. An overly
friendly attempt by one dog to stop and greet another team passing at
high speed can be as problematic as a dog that attempts to nip other
dogs in passing. A top skijor racing team can pass other teams
head-on, without even turning to look at them.
Equestrian skijoring consists of a team of a single horse, generally
guided by a rider, pulling a person on skis who carries no poles and
simply hangs onto a tow rope in a manner akin to water skiing. In
France, competitions involve a riderless horse, which is guided by the
skier. In all cases, the horses have to be trained to accept the
presence of ropes and skier behind them and to remain calm in racing
Skijoring behind a horse is said to have originated as a method of
winter travel, but today is primarily a competitive sport. Skijoring
was a demonstration sport in the 1928 Winter Olympics.
Demonstration skijoring competition at the 1928 Winter Olympics,
horses seen in the distance, coming around the bend of the track.
In North America, the North American
Ski Joring Association holds
competitions in which a rider guides the horse while the skier
navigates a series of jumps and obstacles. More informal competitions
are held on flat ground over short courses, often as simple sprint
races on a straightaway, sometimes with turns on the course.
Competitors often use short skis and modified water skiing towing
equipment, though often this is as simple as a single tow rope
attached to the back of a western saddle. Some variants in equipment
attach two towing lines to either the back of a saddle or the
breastplate on the horse. Timing is typically electronic, with top
competitions decided by hundredths of seconds.
Two types of race courses are common in skijoring competitions, the
straight course and the horseshoe-shaped course. The straight course
allows the horse to run at top speed down the middle of the course
with the skier navigating slalom gates and jumps ranging from three to
nine feet high, set on either side of the horse track. At some events,
to add difficulty, the skier is also required to grab one or more
rings as they ski past a station on the course. The horseshoe-shaped
course allows the horse to run on the inside of the track while the
skier navigates slalom racing gates and jumps ranging from four to six
Skijoring Championships have been held in Whitefish, Montana
since 2009, as a part of the annual Whitefish Winter Carnival, usually
the last weekend of January. The 2011 World
had an actual purse of $19,580 and 91 teams, and also featured a
"Murdoch's Long Jump" competition as a separate class, where a
horseman pulls a skier straight ahead as fast as possible, with the
skier jumping for maximum distance, similar to gelandesprung, but
landing on the flat. Skiers are required to land upright. Some teams
emphasize a speed-acceleration "crack-the-whip" effect by either
having the horse veer to the side immediately before the jump, or the
skier will carve his or her own crack-the-whip before attempting the
jump. The long jump itself is an 8–10 foot jump and the 2011 winning
distance was 56 feet.
Skijoring Championship classes include the Open Pick &
Draw class (for the top skiers, including some former U.S.
competitors and fastest horses), the Sport Class, the Black Star Mule
Class (where all skiers are required to be pulled by a mule), and the
Great Northern Novice Class, in addition to the long jump class. While
skijoriing in Whitefish began in the 1960s, the "modern era" of
skijoring was re-instituted in 2003 by long-time locals Scott Ping and
Dale Duff. The World
Skijoring Championships has even spawned a local
recreational skijoring league. This annual event has some of the
lowest entry fees and used to boast the largest added money and
largest purse. The first annual
Skijoring Championships in the
neighboring town of
Lakeside, Montana held New Years weekend of 2017
now holds the record for the most added money and largest purse.
The city of
Leadville, Colorado has organized an equestrian
competition since 1949, which has a much higher emphasis on speed. The
Leadville version is normally spelled as two words: "
Ski Joring". A
horse and rider pull a skier at a fast pace through a course that has
gates, jumps and rings. The skier is timed through the course, and
penalties are assessed by missing gates or jumps, and by missing or
dropping any of the rings (two seconds each). The competitors race for
cash prizes, and teams are made up by a random draw before the
Skijoring with motorcycles, Augustusburg, Germany, 1963
Skijoring can also take place behind a snowmobile or other small
motorized vehicle. The vehicle and driver pull a skier in a manner
more akin to the equestrian style, which is more suited for higher
speeds than is the dog skijoring style.
Another variant can tow skiers behind an all terrain carrier such as
the Bandvagn 206. In this case, several skiers or soldiers can be
towed on the same rope. The rope is passed around the skiers ski poles
and continues to the next person in line. Skiers then preferably hang
on to their ski poles, supported by their arms.
In the media
Skijoring features in the 1998 film Silver Wolf, starring Michael
Biehn and Roy Scheider.
Skijoring was also talked about in the Castle
Films short Snow Thrills, pronounced by Joel Robinson as "she-horring"
and described by Tom Servo as "A safe and fun way to blow a
Saturday...or a knee!"
Variations of skijoring include snowboarding while hitched to a dog,
and "grassjoring," skijoring on grassy fields rather than snow.
Related summer sports include bikejoring and canicross.
List of Equestrian Sports
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Skijoring.
Horse skijoring links
Ski Joring Association
Video of a skijoring run
White Turf -
Skijoring and racing event held on the Lake of St
Wood River Extreme
1928 Winter Olympics
1928 Winter Olympics Skijoring
Glacier Country, Montana
Dog skijoring links
ISDRA - International Sled
Dog Racing Association
ESDRA - European Sled
Dog Racing Association
IFSS - International Federation of Sleddog Sports
Major dog sports
Musical canine freestyle
Service Dogs Of America
Sled dog racing
Skiing and snowboarding
History of skiing
Technique / learning
Equipment / venues
Resorts / amenities
Dry ski slope
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