A One-of-A-Kind Event, in A One-of-A-Kind City!
Leadville Ski Joring: There’s really nothing like it. Of sure, there might be other joring competitions around the country, but not another one that happens on the main drag of an old west mining town where they close a state highway and put the snow BACK onto the street – no way!
This year marked number 64 for this one-of-a-kind winter sport and from the looks of the thousands of spectators lining Harrison Avenue, folks haven’t grown tired of watching horses (& riders) fly down the course at speeds of up to 40+ mph with a skier in tow, maneuvering jumps 10 feet high.
This past weekend 48 competitors and 27 horses put on a show that brought spectators to their feet and some unfortunate skiers to the pavement. Of course there were some tough spills – like when Berlin-the-horse drug rider Nick Ehlenfeldt down the last part of the course, making a sharp right turn on to 4th Street as if that horse knew the way to the hospital! And there were a few car windshields that took a hit, but that’s why you have insurance for events (and maybe not park so close to the action?) Fortunately, no one was seriously injured.
This year, the Kids Ski Joring competition had a record number of participants at 48 entrants. It’s great to see the younger generation get a feel for this exciting sport as they are pulled down the course behind a snowmobile to the roar of the crowds. These are the future Sport, Open and Legends competitors. Great job, kids!
But it’s the fast action and thrills of the BIG races that keep folks coming back. Like Mike Fries who cleared 53 feet on one of his jumps! Or 13-year-old Savannah McCarthy from New Mexico, one of the BIG stars of this year’s Leadville Ski Joring. An incredible competitor and lovely young lady – hope to see you back next year, Savannah!Fries A Flyin’ . . . . Skier Mike Fries catches air for 53 feet as he’s pulled down Harrison Avenue by Merlin with Dana Stiles. Photo: Mike Fries.
Please be sure to check out all the extended coverage including some incredible photos over at the Leadville Ski Joring Facebook Page. But if you’re interested in the final times, best teams and end results, you can find them on Leadville Today by clicking HERE.
There were a couple of changes this year for Leadville Ski Joring. The most notable was the stepping down of longtime organizers Paul and Dee Dee Cooper. After nearly 30 years, it was time to pass the reins to the next generation. Jason Dahl was a natural choice, both as an experienced competitor and leader.Thirteen year old rider Savannah McCarthy from New Mexico earned this saddle blanket (and a whole lot of respect from grown men) at the Leadville Ski Joring Awards Ceremony on Sunday.
While Leadville Ski Joring is often touted as one of those events that “magically happens,” mainly due to the same people showing up and “taking their positions,” the event still needs a leader. This year, that responsibility rested on Jason Dahl’s shoulders. Dahl sat tall in that saddle through the planning, set up and Saturday competition, but unfortunately, a family emergency pulled him from the event on Sunday (everyone’s fine now). And while other volunteers sprung to action to cover Dahl’s responsibilities, a quick text to the Coppers had them headed back into town by mid-day Sunday to help bring the event to the finish line, culminating with the awards ceremony. Guess that short-sleeved getaway will have to wait! And it leaves the lingering question: Can you ever really resign as a volunteer from a Leadville event?
There’s no doubt that success comes from a team effort, whether you’re pulling a skier by horse down the avenue, coordinating a Calcutta, or taming a corral of horses. This event is volunteer-driven by folks with a passion for horses, skiing and LEADVILLE!
A quick poll of Harrison Avenue merchants this week, indicated that the event was successful in meeting what’s always been one of its primary goals: To bring folks into town during the winter season, entertain them, and hope that they spend some hard, cold cash in the local restaurants and shops. Mission accomplished….until next year!
And Just When You Thought It Was Over!
If you hung around through the end of the Leadville Ski Joring competition on Sunday, March 3, you were witness to the highest Harlem Shake performance in the world (in-flight does not count!) Thanks to the coordination of some local folks and businesses, Leadville once again proved that it is one funky Magic City!
Enjoy . . . and share!