Skijoring returns to Harrison Avenue

Horses and skiers provide thrills during the 2011 skijoring competition.


Skijoring has been a high point of Leadville’s winters since 1949, and 2012 will be no exception.

Harrison Avenue will be filled with snow on March 2 for the annual skijoring competition to be held on March 3 and 4.

Organizer Paul Copper said the first horse should be on the course around 1:30 p.m.

The course consists of three jumps and two sets of rings that a skier attempts to catch with a baton as he flies by. The gates are at the beginning and end of the course and on top of each jump.

The skier, horse and rider with the fastest time through the course wins.

However, there are time- penalties for missing a gate or jump (five seconds), missing a ring (two seconds) or for dropping a baton (two seconds). At the end of the course, the skier must be on his feet, in control and holding the rope. Otherwise, he is disqualified.

Before the competition starts on Saturday and again on Sunday, a calcutta allows spectators to bid on who will win.

Each team of skier, rider and horse is sold to the highest bidder, and the money goes into the kitty for the spectator buying the winning team. The more who buy into the calcutta, the more the lucky winning spectator will have in his pocket going home.

The competition begins with the sport division. New skijoring hopefuls enter this class, including some trying skijoring for the first time.

Old-timers with experience are in the legends class but use the smaller jumps. The open class is the most competitive, and skiers use the higher jumps.

For those who don’t want to ski behind a horse, the snowmobile class is the last event each day.

In the 2011 competition, Will James, with his horse Tanner, earned a jacket as overall rider in the open division, while Bruce Stott took the honors as overall skier in the same division.

Registration takes place at the Elks Lodge on West 5th Street starting at 8 a.m. each day.

Filling the avenue with snow is a joint effort between the city street department and the county road-and-bridge department.

Seven trucks and four loaders are used for the hauling job. The street is closed Friday morning to fill the avenue. The street opens again Sunday night after the street is cleared, which is after the Mile High four-wheel-drive club uses the jumps for a little hill-climbing practice.

For some, watching these trucks get stuck and the lengths taken to tow them out of the side of a jump is as entertaining as the rest of the weekend.

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