For the first time ever, Skijoring is coming to St. Paul this weekend.
The Ag Society will be hosting the competition as part of Shiverfest on Monday. Teams will compete for the first-place prize of $200, a second-place prize of $100, and a third-place prize of $30.
But, what exactly is Skijoring, and why is it here?
What is it?
St. Paul Ag Society President Doug Drolet explained: “Skijoring is basically like waterskiing. Except, instead of a skier being pulled behind a boat on the water, they’re pulled behind a horse in the snow.”
That sounds like the perfect sport for Alberta, and Drolet agrees.
“It felt like a really good fit for St. Paul,” he said. “We have the weather and the snow, and we have the horses and the skiers. We have set up a course that will include slalom and a few jumps and a ring grab. And basically, you just go hell-bent around the track to get the best time. But finesse is important too; There are penalties for missing your slalom and your jumps that count against your time.”
Skijoring isn’t always done with horses; depending on the location and the competition, skiers could also be pulled by dogs or snowmobiles. With strong Nordic roots, many groups have lobbied for it to become a featured sport in the Winter Olympics.
Why St. Paul?
Drolet began to seriously consider bringing Skijoring to St. Paul after hearing about other Ag Societies in Alberta participating in the sport:
“Each year, there’s an Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies (AAAS) convention where all the Ag Societies in Alberta get together,” he said.
“There’s always a lot of networking going on; hearing about what other people are doing. That’s where we picked up the idea of Skijoring, from another Ag Society in Crowsnest Pass. It’s starting to catch on all over as well. There’s a Canadian Skijoring Society, and we just wanted to try it as a fun, unsanctioned event this year.”
So, as long as the weather stays above -20 (in order to keep horses and riders safe), anyone can come out and watch the first-ever St. Paul Skijoring Competition at Reunion Station. The event will start around 1:00 p.m. Interested participants can also register on the day of the event at noon.
Other Shiverfest Events
If Skijoring doesn’t seem like your thing, or if you’re looking to pack your weekend full of winter activities, St. Paul’s Shiverfest has lots to offer.
There’s free tobogganing at Lagasse Park all weekend long, free public skating at the Clancy on Saturday from 12:30-1:30 pm, and $3 public swimming on Saturday and Sunday from 1:00-4:00 pm.
The majority of the events will take place at Reunion Station on Monday, including outdoor curling, ski races, snow painting, sleigh rides, an ice fishing derby, and more.
A full schedule of events can be found below: