The Red Lodge skijoring event has a new person in charge – but organizer Kristen Beck is taking her duties seriously.
“I think it is just the coolest sport ever,” said Beck. “(Skijoring is) a really neat mixture of extreme skiing and cowboy life.”
The crowd will rally as skiers are pulled behind a horse with a rope, navigating a course in hope of the fastest time to the finish line.
Part of the excitement is the recognition Red Lodge skijoring has received. After more than 50 years hosting the final race of the season, Ski Joring America has officially sanctioned the Red Lodge competition as the last race of their circuit.
This year’s skijoring commences at high noon on both March 11 and 12. Tickets are sold at the gate and are only $5 for adults. Kids under 12 are admitted free of charge.
Skijoring races typically have a straight track or one shaped like a horseshoe. The Red Lodge horseshoe track is about 700 feet long with more than 20 slalom gates and four jumps. Teams get two runs each day, and the top three fastest times in each division are awarded.
This year’s divisions are open, sport, novice, junior (ages 12-17), peewee (under 12) and long jump.
At the end of the first race day, get in on the action by bidding in the Calcutta. Bogart’s restaurant will host the betting, where spectators wager on the second day’s times. Part of the proceeds benefit two Red Lodge charities, and the rest of the pot goes to the winner.
After the Calcutta, enjoy live music and dancing at Snow Creek Saloon.
When the final race is over on day two, congratulate participants at the award celebration hosted at Foster & Logan’s Pub & Grill. Both the local event and national championship finalists will be honored.
“We are trying to streamline and make (the event) more efficient,” said Beck.
There will be more seating and parking than ever before.
“One goal this year is to pizzazz (the event) with family-fun activities and things for kids,” she said.
Between race divisions, there will be a kids’ activity tent and games. On day one, look out for the s’mores station. The next day, eat or compete at the chili cook-off. It benefits Beartooth Cupboards, the local food bank.
Beck says she can’t take all the credit for putting the event together. She is grateful to predecessor Tammy Stevens, who coordinated skijoring in Red Lodge for 25 years and showed her the ropes. She has a solid team of organizers helping with the details.
“There’s no way in the world this could happen without them,” said Beck.
Beck sees more skijoring in her future.
“Oh, I’ll be a lifer for sure,” she said.