It mixes elements of dog-sled racing and cross-country skiing and has a great name.
Skijoring (skih-jooring) is a Norwegian invented sport that is picking up steam in Ontario. A demonstration of the activity is scheduled for Sunday (cold depending) at Arrowhead Park.
Dr. Lowell Greib of the SportLab in Huntsville is an enthusiast who is organizing three skijoring days including Sundays in February and March. He estimates there are about 100 people participating in the sport in the Muskoka area now.
Greib says the sport is somewhat in its infancy everywhere. A skier wears a skijoring belt and the dog is fitted with a work harness. The pair are connected with a “snub line”. The skier provides power through poles and skis and the dog is offering additional pulling power through the harness.
“A dog or dogs pull a cross-country skier,” explains Greib. “In the summer months, there are other versions including scooter and biking with your dog in a harness.”
A typical skijoring dog starts at around the 30 lb mark, so chihuahuas and poodles need not apply.
“It isn’t for every dog, at least not at the start,” Greib explains. “My dogs, (pictured – left Piper – a husky crossbreed, and Roscoe, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever) all three of them are involved in the sport and they are house pets and none of whom would be considered a classic dog-sled dog. On occasion, we have a very strong willed smaller dog that has the will to pull.”
A typical race distance on snow is between seven and 10 kilometres. Arrowhead Park has the distinction of offering up the only skijoring track in the province.
“There is a 800 metre groomed track dedicated to the sport,” says Greib. “So those who already participated or know how the sport operates and how to handle their dogs in a safe manner have a trail they can go to when they want to.”
The activity was offered up as a demonstration sport for the 1928 Winter Olympics in Switzerland.
Greib says when the dog and skier are in synch both can travel quite a distance and at an impressive clip.
“If they are in a working harness they learn how to pull and turn corners and slow down and speed up,” he says.
If you would like to find out more about the sport you can register for the Arrowhead events through the SportLab website by clicking here.
The skijoring event days are:
- Sunday, January 20th
- Sunday, February 3rd
- Sunday, March 3rd
To register click here.