What Does It Take To Become a Skijoring Competitor?
A smaller than normal crowd cheered on skiers making their way through an obstacle course … while gripping a rope attached to a horse.
That may sound like an impossible task, but it’s a sport known as skijoring.
Soldier Hollow has hosted a skijoring race every Febuary for the past 6 years. Last year, the event drew in over 3,000 guests, this year was smaller due to the pandemic. The race, which happened last Saturday hosted about 200 attendees and over 130 competitors.
The winning time this year on the 900 foot course was 15.7 seconds.
Because it’s such a fast moving sport, Kristin Bollinger, managing partner at Skijoring Utah, said within 20-30 seconds competitors know if it’s something they’ll like.
"You do have to love the adrenaline and then I mean, there is definitely the possibility of getting hurt," Bollinger said. "But if you can navigate a course and hold on to a rope and you like to go fast, it's the sport for you."
Competitors don’t necessarily need to have experience to sign up for the race and can sign up for different levels in the competition ranging from novice to pro.
Sophie Book has been coming to Park City to ski every year since she was a kid. Last weekend she registered as an “amature” in her first skijoring race.
"First, we tried to sign up for novice, which is what we figured we were but then we saw that the novice entries required you to have your own horse, which we did not have," Book said.
She said the first time she ever even heard of skijoring was a week before the event.
"It all started for me with a TikTok video with someone going skijoring," she said. "We just thought it looked pretty cool. And we googled it and found out its name. And then we found out that it was happening in Utah. And so at that point, we were like, well we might as well try it."
To prepare, she scoured the internet for videos of what to expect. Even though she had seen racers in action, she said she still wasn’t ready for what it actually felt like out there.
"But I would say that it definitely feels faster than it looks … like, it felt crazy," she said. "And I look at the video and I'm like, 'Oh, this just looks like ... it looks pretty doable.'"
Book was disqualified from the race after letting go of the rope to the horse, but she said she’d be interested in competing again ... this time as a novice. She has the ambition, now all she needs is the horse.