Skijoring a Norwegian sport where cross country skiers pulled by dogs race each other. Typically a person is being pulled by a dog but sometimes its a motor vehicle. The sport’s origin can’t be pinpointed down to a single place as many countries used dogs to pull skiers around but it’s believed that Skijoring was an offshoot of the older Scandinavian sport Pulka. Pulka is a low slung small toboggan used to transport goods that’s had its fair share of competitive races.
In skijoring the dogs assist a cross country skier, 1 to 3 dogs are commonly used. The dogs are connected with a sled with a harness but are not persuaded to run, they run entirely on their own will but respond to the commands of the skier. Many breeds of dogs are used in Skijoring as the only requirement is a dog wanting to run the trails and pull a skier. Dogs under 40 pounds or 18 kg are rarely used as their pulling strength is much less. Common breeds used are golden retrievers, giant schnauzers, labs, as well as pulling breeds such as staffordshire terriers, american bull terriers, american bulldogs and mastiffs.
Races can be short sprints only 5 km or 3 miles long up to 20 km or 12 miles long. There are exceptions though, the longest Skijoring race takes place in Kalevala, Karelia, Russia with a distance of 440 km or 270 miles. The next longest race is the River Runner 120 held in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada with a distance of 190 km or 120 miles as the name of the race suggests. Side note isn’t it weird a race is Canada that uses the metric system is named after an imperial measurement.. ok moving on. Skijoring is a thing in Canada and the United States with events take place at the same location where dog sled races happen. It’s usually a separate category of race at the same event.
Sanctioned Skijoring races are held in many northern countries under 1 of 3 international organizations. This hasn’t stopped local pubs though from holding their own unsanctioned events. Getting drunk and being pulled through the snow by dogs, this sounds like a winning combination. During races skiers use a skating like technique to generate the most amount of speed. Skis are also hot waxed from tip to tail to reduce friction. The average traveling speed of skijoring is around 20 kph or 12 mph but can go up to 35 kph or 22 mph.
Skijoring dogs must learn some basic commands as well as learn to not interfere with other dog teams that pass them. Believe it or not other variations of this sport exist including grassjoring where skiers ski on grass instead of snow and one where a snowboarder is pulled by a dog as well. Bikejoring is well you guessed it, dogs pulling a bike, where does this madness end? Finally, you can’t make this up, equestrian Skijoring has a horse pulling a skier through the snow. 2 different courses exist, a horseshoe shaped one and a straight line course. Skiers have to navigate through gates while being pulled by the horse, which is more difficult in the straight course as the horse can run at full speed. There is a even a jump event were the horse pulls the skier at full speed up to a jump, almost like wakeboarding.
When it comes to motorized skijoring usually the choice vehicle is a snowmobile but there are crazy Germans like these guys that’ll do it with a motorcycle.
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