The annual Wood River Extreme Ski Joring Association event pairs two classic Idaho archetypes—cowboys and skiers—in a horse-drawn drag race.
Skiers must hold on across a 600-900-foot course, hitting jumps and grabbing rings on the way. Speeds often reach 40 miles per hour, according to event organizers. Each run is scored, and winners are determined by their combined two-day point total. Extra seconds are added for dropped rings or missed gates.
This year’ races will be Feb. 17-18, in southern Bellevue at the Browning family ranch. The event is typically attended by several hundred people.
The history of ski joring goes back several hundred years to Scandinavia, where people would travel behind reindeer on wooden skis.
As a sport, it’s more recent: Back in the late 1940s, Tom Schroeder and Mugs Ossman traveled to Steamboat, Colorado, where they saw people ski joring at a local winter carnival. They came back with the idea of doing it at the winter carnival and they had their first race in 1949. Ski joring became a sanctioned sport in 1999, according to Wood River Extreme Ski Joring.
For more information about WRESJA visit their social media page or their website at www.woodriveresja.com.
Photo by Raiza Giorgi