The Saratoga Sun -

Wax your skis and shoe your ride

Skijoring returns to Valley for second year


Saratoga Sun File Photo

Competitors cross the finish line in last year's inaugural event.

Skijoring, one of the newest annual events in the Upper Platte River Valley, returns to Saratoga later this week for the second time.

Last year's event, held in early March, was considered by organizers to be a successful first inauguration for the new event given the lack of snow and the short amount of time the organizers had to plan for the event. This year the event was scheduled to be earlier in the winter in hopes of more snow being on the ground.

"We have all the snow we need," Will Faust, of the Lion's Club-one of the event's organizers along with the Platte Valley Jaycees-said. This year organizers had more time to prepare Buck Springs Arena for the event. Snow fencing has been in place at the arena for some time to help collect sufficient snow to construct a track.

It is on that track where horse riders will pull skiers though an obstacle course that can include moguls and jumps. The sport is not new. It was popular in Europe for a time in the early 1900s and was demonstrated at the 1928 Winter Olympics. In recent years, the sport has gained a following in the U.S.

According to Faust, it has also gained a following in the Valley. Faust said registration for the event was up from the same period last year. A week prior to last year's inaugural skijoring event Faust said organizers had signed up 18 participants. By the time the event rolled around more had signed up and organizers were able to make 32 matched teams for the weekend of racing.

This year, a week prior to the beginning of the event, Faust says there are 49 registrants and 32 teams.

A week prior to the beginning of the races, Faust said, so many skiers had signed up that eventually organizers had more skiers than equestrians. This sent Faust out on a drive to sign up more riders. He was successful, he said, to the point where he needed to find even more skiers.

With registration numbers at those levels, plus the possibility for more registrants to sign up during the days prior to the event's kickoff, there are plenty of teams to ensure a weekend packed with racing action, Faust said.

Because the event has so many registered participants, Faust said organizers are confident the event will wind up being a net financial gain. The organizers' money will go toward community events, Faust said, adding that scholarships, the kid's fishing derby and other civic projects are also funded by proceeds from Skijoring.

The other potential boon to the Valley from Skijoring could come from spectators. Faust said in the last couple weeks before the event, the organizers shifted focus from recruiting competitors to trying to draw in spectators. Having a robustly spectated event could benefit hotels, motels, local restaurants and retailers, Faust said.

To draw spectators from afar, the organizers have been using targeted ads with Google and Facebook. The ads on those two platforms are designed to be shown to people within travel distance of Saratoga who are interested in the sport, Faust said.

Competitors will show up Friday for registration at the Hotel Wolf where there will be a welcome party that evening. Races will be held Saturday and Sunday. At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, the Platte Valley Community Center will host another party and a concert featuring the popular local band The Patti Fiasco.

Faust says he and the other organizers are particularly grateful to all the local businesses and individuals who have supported the event and he is confident the event will be a successful fundraiser for the Valley.

"We look forward to seeing everyone out there," he said. "It's good, cheap family entertainment."


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