Skijoring: Skiing Sports for Dog Lovers – Snow Skiing

June 14, 2006 by  
Filed under features

Skijoring: a sport in which a harnessed dog pulls a cross-country skier down trails. This unusual off-shoot of snow skiing combines the fun of skiing with the enthusiastic energy of dogs. It is, in essence, dog-sledding without the sled.

Originating in Scandinavia (skijoring means “ski-driving” in Norwegian), it is now practiced throughout the colder regions of the world. In Russia, Scandinavia, northern Canada, Alaska, and America’s Midwest states, many dog enthusiasts skijor for fun, and to get winter exercise for themselves and their pets.

Equipment for skijoring is simple:

  • An enthusiastic dog- many dog breeds enjoy skijoring — the best skijorers are athletic, weigh 40+ pounds, and obey voice commands. A well-trained dog is essential for safety in this sport.

  • Cross-country skis (without metal edges, which could injure the dog). Both classic and skate-ski types are regularly used.

  • A properly-fit, nylon pulling-harness for the dog.

  • A second padded harness for the skier’s hips, sometimes with leg loops.

  • A shock-absorbing towline with a quick-release snap for safety.

As with any sport, competitions abound. While most skijorers do so recreationally, they may attend local club meets. Competitive types can attend national or international races, such as the World Cup put on by the IFSS (International Federation of Sleddog Sports).

Competition categories include Skijor Sprint Racing, during which dogs and their skiers can reach 30mph. Another category is Skijor Distance Racing, such as the 320-mile endurance race in the Alaskan Iditasport.