Wintervention brings skijoring — yes, skiing behind a horse — to Crowsnest Pass
Skiers weave between markers, over jumps while horses drag them through the course at the end of rope
It sounds like an idea dreamt up by someone late at night after they maybe had one too many, but skijoring — skiing through an obstacle course while being pulled by a horse — is a real thing. And thanks to Wintervention, it's come to Alberta's Crowsnest Pass.
Joe Trotz is president of the Kananaskis Rodeo Association and part of the team that helped organize the skijoring event.
"I guess a couple of us saw it on TV or somewhere and we thought, 'Jeez, boy, wouldn't that be a fun thing to do in the Crowsnest Pass,'" he told CBC News.
Elsewhere in the world, skijoring has been done with horses or teams of dogs, and the word is derived from a Norweigian term meaning ski driving.
The rodeo association tried to get skijoring on the docket last year, but there wasn't enough snow or time to get it going. Conditions this year, however, lent themselves to the event.
Riders looped a rope around the saddle of their horses, which ran the inside loop of the corral.
As if holding on to the rope wasn't hard enough, skiers also had to weave their way through a series of markers and hit three jumps of varying size.
Teyel Strandquist participated in the event as a skier with her aunt, Pam Hughes, and her horse, Roger.
Strandquist said they had a chance to practice last week but conditions were slushy, making it very difficult both on the skiers and the horses.
After her first run, Strandquist, a former ski racer and instructor, said she had no regrets about signing up, but she had panicked a bit while waiting in the chute to get going.
Being a new event, participants were still picking up the strategy to scoring a good time.
First responders were on scene in case anyone suffered something more serious than bumps and bruises, but as the announcer said, those who took a tumble were "cowboy tough" and they were on their feet again soon after.
While it did seem that participants were having a lot of fun at the event, it wasn't for fun alone.
And the winners are...
Garet Drake and Ryan Linderman were the grand champions this year, taking $983 in prize money. Cooper Trotz and Shane Trotz came in second and Joe Trotz and Shane Trotz came in third.
In the second division, Dixie Edge and Chance Bohmer came out on top walking away with $655 in cash. Chance Bohmer and Sam Edge were a close second and Jesse Loree and Alex Redford took third place.