Leadville Skijoring returned to Harrison Street this year, packing the asphalt with snow and the sidewalk with eager spectators.
With fans watching from storefronts, restaurant balconies, tailgates, and even lampposts, dozens of skiers and riders took to the streets for the event’s 74th anniversary. Competitors wore everything from fur chaps and western wear to jeans and t-shirts, with one even taking to the course on a snowboard rather than the usual skis.
First-time skijorers are required to run the course towed by a snowmobile before getting behind a horse, and the snowmobile division featured a number of folks taking to skijoring for the first time.
Reid Grinspoon, who was in the area on vacation, came to watch a friend skijor for the first time. On Friday, he figured it would be fun to see his friends tackle a new sport, but the day of, he was a bit warier.
“This morning while watching it, I thought, ‘They’ve made a terrible mistake,’” he laughed. “But they did a great job and no one got hurt. I would have to say they out-performed my expectations!”
Between blazing through gates, grabbing the bright orange rings along the course, and flying off sculpted jump ramps, skijorers have a lot to think about as they tear down the road. Missed gates and dropped rings can result in time penalties as they vie for the fastest runs, while lost skis, wipeouts, and dropped towropes can mean failed runs.
One skier, however, did complete his run on a single ski after losing the other after a rough landing. The crowd joined the emotional roller coaster of an expected wipeout followed by elation as they finished out their run successfully.
Spectators also lovingly cheered for each skier as they were ferried up to the top of the street on ATVs or regained their footing after a rough wipeout.
“I’ve never heard them cheer like that,” observed one spectator as he walked into a coffee shop. “It’s such a different energy.”
Skiers were also invited to return and ski again on Sunday, March 6. More information on Leadville Skijoring can be found at https://www.leadvilleskijoring.us/.