SILVERTON – The Wild West returns to Silverton this weekend, with race horses hurtling down snowy Blair Street at breakneck speed pulling daredevil skiers behind them for the fifth annual Silverton Skijoring races. The two-day spectacle takes place this Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 15 and 16, with racing taking place from roughly 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.
The event delivers huge thrills for competitors and spectators alike, as skiers navigate a series of six-foot high jumps and obstacles on a straight-of-way course through the historic heart of Silverton while being towed behind a galloping mounted steed.
The Silverton Skijoring weekend is put on by a grassroots group of local enthusiasts, and is open to both novices and experienced competitors. Cash prizes will be awarded to both the fastest skiers and horse riders in both categories.
Participants may choose to sign up as a Matched Team (skier, horse and rider) but skiers need not have a horse to register. They can alternatively be matched with available horses by random draw at registration each day prior to the race. Competitors must be 18 years or older, or 16 and up with a parent’s permission.
Anyone can sign up to race, as long as there are enough horses to go around. Competitors must bring their own skis and helmet.
The novice course does not include jumps and obstacles, but all competitors including novices must make it through a series of gates, collecting rings along the way. If they miss a gate or drop a ring they get seconds added to their time. The skier and rider with the fastest time win.
The skier must be in control, and in an upright position (no part of skier's body touching the ground), and on at least one ski when crossing finish line, or the team is DQ'd. Likewise, the rider must be on the horse when the skier crosses the finish line.
Spectating is free, but dogs are not allowed. Berms of snow have been built up on either side of Blair Street for safe viewing and fantastic photo ops.
Silverton Skijoring has developed quite a fan base over the past several years; business owners liken it to the Fourth of July in wintertime. Hotels fill up, and shops and restaurants stay busy with crowds of visitors. On Saturday night, there will be live music, dancing and libations at the Grand Imperial Hotel, as racers gather for a calcutta at the American Legion bar.
“If the weather holds, it should be a blast,” said event co-organizer Pete Maisel. “The weather is the hero here.”
Equestrian skijoring is a highly specialized competitive sport, with competitions taking place in more than five states in the USA, and in several countries worldwide. In some parts of the world, skiers are pulled behind dogs, mules and snowmobiles.
For more information, check out Silverton Skijoring on Facebook or visit www.silvertonski-joring.com.
firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet @iamsamwright