Extreme Skijoring is back

“40 seconds of shear terror!”

That’s how Josh Glick jokingly refers to competing in an extreme skijoring race. Often called “winter’s wildest sport,” extreme skijoring is essentially a combination of ski racing, water skiing and lots of raw horsepower—and it all takes place on a snow-covered obstacle course.

“It’s exhilarating and adrenaline-pumping fun, but it’s definitely a challenge,” said Josh, who has competed in and won numerous skijoring races over the years. “It’s basically ski racing behind a horse.”

Josh got hooked on extreme skijoring after racing in the annual local event. He now serves on the board for Wood River Extreme Skijoring Association (WRESJA) and will help the non-profit put on their annual races this year in Bellevue.

Not to be confused with regular skijoring, which involves dogs, the horse-propelled extreme skijoring races began locally in Fairfield in 2001.

The two-days of races have proven to be an extremely entertaining spectator sport, which brings together the horse and skiing communities. Besides the racing and the views of Idaho’s gorgeous snowy landscapes, the event also includes food vendors and a beer garden offering wine and margaritas

Fans and participants come from a variety of states and throughout Idaho. Usually over 40 teams of three (skier or snowboarder, rider and horse) compete in a variety of categories. Each team takes turns blasting through an obstacle course that includes jumps and rings for the skiers—and sometimes riders—to collect. Competitors can reach speeds of 40 miles per hour. Josh said it takes a variety of skills for all three-team members.

A Kid’s Stick Horse Race, a Valentine’s Couples Race and more snowboarders are being added to this year’s festivities.

“The skier has many challenges trying to manage the course while being towed by a horse and the rider has the challenge of trying to keep the horse straight. It’s not for you’re average person,” Josh said, adding “when you have a good run, you’re smiling from ear-to-ear. The skier, the rider and the horse all know you nailed it.”

Michelle Bobbitt is an extreme skijoring rider and serves as the secretary of WRESJA.

“It’s an absolute rush, running a horse full blast for 800-feet across snow with skier being towed,” she said. “It’s a blast. I love it.”

Lots of folks obviously agree with Michelle and thanks to the efforts of the WRESJA “winter’s wildest sport” will return to the Wood River Valley again this year.

The 2020 Wood River Extreme Skijoring Races will take place on February 15 & 16th at 81 Browning Lane in the Bellevue Triangle, about four-miles south of downtown Bellevue. Races run from high noon to 4pm each day. Admission is $5 for adults with kids 10 and under free. Tickets can be picked up at the event or at the Hailey Welcome Center. For more information or to register, please go to woodriveresja.com.

By Mike McKenna

This story originally appeared in the Chamber Corner for the Wood River Weekly.

Join our newsletter