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Riders prepare for skijoring event

By Scott Zoltan, KECI Reporter, szoltan@keci.com
Published On: Jan 20 2013 06:07:00 PM MST
Updated On: Jan 20 2013 09:32:57 PM MST

On Sunday, horseback riders and skiers came together at a Whitefish home to practice for an upcoming skijoring competition at the Whitefish Winter Carnival. Skijoring is a winter extreme sport in which a skier is pulled along by a horse around a track and over jumps. The goal is to do it all in the shortest time.

“If you’re a horse rider and you’re interested in doing something that’s absolute pure adrenaline, there’s nothing like it,” said Kalispell resident Todd Patterson. Patterson has ridden in the event for the past six years, but has to sit this upcoming one out after suffering a heart attack. His horse will be ridden by Kristen House, of Kalispell.

House got third place in her class last year, after bouncing back from a less-than-cooperative horse.

“My first experience was a lot of fun, except the horse wanted to go off a lot of the obstacles as well,” said House.

Carl Smithback was also at Sundays practice. He’s a Polson skier doing the event for the first time.

“I started last weekend. [I] just read about it on craigslist and showed up,” said Smithback.

Smithback hopes to get first place in his class.

The skijoring competition has Whitefish roots dating back to the fifties, although it died down for a time. Then, Whitefish resident Scott Ping and some other folks resurrected it.

“The horses and the skiers together, brings in two areas that are really kind of very different, but then once they get together it’s just great to watch,” said Ping, an organizer of the event.

Team registration takes place on Friday, January 25.

 On Saturday January 26, a course inspection will take place from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. The first segments of the competition will take place from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm at the Whitefish City Airport.

On Sunday, January 27, the competition will start back up at 12:00 pm. Prizes will get handed out at the Craggy Range Bar in the evening. Folks looking for more info can call Scott Ping at 406-261-7464 or Vernon Kisser at 406-261-7087.