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Skijoring attracts thousands to Whitefish

By Kevin Lessard, KCFW Reporter, klessard@kcfw.com
Published On: Jan 25 2014 07:27:31 PM MST
KALISPELL, Mont. -

Thousands of people went to whitefish Saturday to see a sport its fanatics hope to one day see in the Winter Olympics.

For now, the biggest stage for skijorers is in Whitefish, ahead of the Whitefish Winter Carnival.

And each year, the competition and the crowd grows.

Skijoring's a sport where a skier is pulled by a horse around a race course, but you really have to see it to believe it.

"I've been busted up doing this sport before so sometimes I'm a bit tentative you know but other times its yee-haw," said event organizer Scott Ping.

This year was the sixth year in a row that Whitefish has hosted the World Skijoring Championship.

Ping says the sport has been around for some time.

It started out small, but it’s grown in size and popularity with over 3,000 people coming to watch this year’s event.

After being a demonstration sport in the 1928 Olympics, it became popular again in Whitefish.

"It started back in the 1950's with just four guys in a bar talking about who was the best skier, who was the best drinker, and who was the best horseman," said Ping.

Skiers and riders competed all day long in different divisions and classes, weaving in and out of poles and heading over jumps to try and get the best time."

Ryan Ferrian came back for a second time this year to compete.

Ferrian's been skiing on the slopes for his whole life and says skijoring requires a lot more concentration.

"It's definitely just real quick reactions and knowing what's ahead, especially with the jumps you got to really time those and be prepared," said Ferrian.

It's that concentration that Ferrian says can either make, or break, your run on the course.