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Articles by Justin Franz

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This story was originally published by Atlas Obscura and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

On January 20, 2020, Ted Valentiner and the other organizers of annual World Invitational Skijoring Championship in Whitefish, Montana, stood in a snow-covered field just outside of town. They had gathered to make a fateful decision about the upcoming event, scheduled to take place a few days later — a decision they hoped they would never have to make. They were thinking about canceling the whole thing.

“We agonized over the decision for hours and when you finally do decide to cancel, you always second guess yourself,” says Valentiner, a Whitefish resident who is on the event’s volunteer board. “It’s a big disappointment.”

Skijoring combines skiing with horseback riding. In its simplest form, the sport features a horse dragging a skier, and this event puts them together on an obstacle course of jumps, gates, and hanging rings that the skiers are supposed to grab as they speed by. Each run through the course is timed and, if a skier misses a jump or a ring, a few seconds are added on.

Skijoring, which means “ski driving” in Norwegian, ... Read more