by Dalton Carver
If skijoring sounds like a crazy sport on paper, wait until a skier soars over a parked pickup truck this weekend. The obstacle is just one of the additions to this year’s San Juan Skijoring competition, which is continuing to find success in its third year.
If case you haven’t heard, skijoring is a unique sport combining the skills of both horseback riding and skiing. A skier hangs onto a rope that’s tied to a horse and rider while they sling him/her across a snow course including jumps, ramps and, this year, pickup trucks. The skier has to hit the designated gates along the way or risk a five-second time penalty, and time is everything. Each run is clocked and the fastest, cleanest team will end up with the most prize money.
The third annual competition is scheduled for Jan. 12 and 13 at the Ouray County Fairgrounds and 4-H Center and will feature more than 30 teams from Colorado, Montana, Arizona and Wyoming.
This year the prize money has been upped to $25,000. Thanks to the event raising the bar each year, Richard Weber, perennial skijoring competitor and driving force behind the event, estimates popularity for the event has increased throughout the county.
“In the first year, nobody knew what it was. We were putting on an event that only about 10 percent of the county even knew what it was. Probably even less than that,” Weber said in an interview Monday. “They know what it is now. It’s something that’s really gained traction. I would say we’re up around 75 percent.”
The course has changed each year, but this year marks perhaps the most significant alteration to date. Not only will the competition feature a gap jump, but it will be a gap jump over a parked pickup truck donated by a brave event sponsor.
Last year, the event featured...