IDAHO — It combines the western way of life with alpine skiing, the extreme sport of skijoring returns to Idaho for their annual races Feb. 18 and 19 in Bellevue, Idaho.
"The challenge is going as fast and efficiently as you can to complete the course, and skiing at high speeds on the flat ground going through obstacles is the extreme part of it," Josh Glick, Vice President, Wood River Valley Extreme Skijoring Association said.
The races are made up of eight divisions of different skill levels from pros to peewees.
"They can expect four hours of very pure entertainment, and exciting racing," Glick said.
It was a sport that started in Norway as a form of transportation that has since transformed into a winter sport for both cowboys and skiers.
"The horse and rider go straight down the course, and they’re pulling the skier, and the skier slaloms from one side of the course over to the other side going around the gate," Glick said. "You are scored on time and any gates you miss or rings you miss."
"It’s extreme. It is very challenging because you can’t control the speed of the horse. It’s up to the rider to decide the speed and match that with a skier," Glick added. "The challenge is that team aspect of working with your rider and the skier and completing the course."
Fans and competitors are encouraged to dress up and enjoy the traditions of skijoring.
"We want this to be really fun. Dress up in your best western gear, dress up in your best ski outfit, and if you have got a classic onesie suit that you have worn every now and then skiing wear it during the race," Glick said.
It's a sport that has grown in popularity and numbers over the past couple of years.
"A lot of the Western states there has been a growth over the years because it is a great community event that is one of the main reasons why we put it on and keep it going," Glick added. "It’s exciting for us to put it on and to bring a new generation of skiers and horseback riders together."
This year there will be a special ceremony celebrating the life of Curtis Stutts, the founder of Wood River Extreme Skijoring.
"We are honoring him because he passed away last year and we are going to honor him by naming the pro division after him," Glick said. "He was instrumental with a group of guys back in the 1990s. He started it over in Fairfield."
For more information on skijoring or to head out to the competition this weekend, click here.