January 05, 2006


ever heard of "skijoring"? the new york times today has an article about it:

FOUR years ago Carin Offerman clipped on a pair of cross-country skis, tethered herself to her giant schnauzer, Raven, and braced for a ride that would change her life. Her 70-pound dog started running, and Ms. Offerman felt the line go tight as she rocketed down the snowy trail.

Ms. Offerman, 57, an independent investor from Minneapolis, had read about skijoring, a Nordic sport, which involves tying a dog to the skier for increased speed and power. "My dog and I were both in need of exercise in the winter months, and skijoring looked like a great fit," she said.

Before the snow melted, Ms. Offerman was taking Raven out on local trails several times a week for a workout, which she says is equally good for both of them. "After an hour of skijoring I'd come home sweaty and exhausted," she said, "and Raven would go to curl up by the fireplace for a long nap."

b Skijoring
(pronounced skee-JOAR-ing) has long been practiced in Alaska and Scandinavia, where sled-dog sports are part of the local culture. But in the last five years it has gained momentum in places like Vermont, upstate New York, Michigan, Colorado and Minnesota and now has a following among thousands of recreational skiers and their dogs, said Tim White, the president of the International Federation of Sleddog Sports, in Minnesota. Cross-country ski areas have opened hundreds of miles of trails to skiers and their pets, and new skijoring clubs, equipment makers, races, instructional clinics and Web sites cater to the converts. [...]

A cousin sport to dog sledding, skijoring uses a 6- to 10-foot towline to tether a skier to one or more dogs wearing chest harnesses. The dog runs and pulls, and the human skis behind. To maximize speed and preserve the dog's energy on long treks, skiers provide some of the power by striding and pushing off with their poles. Some dogs may need training to run straight down trails rather than in circles around their owner's ankles. An experienced canine-human pair can reach speeds of 15 miles an hour or more, Mr. White said.

Speed is part of the attraction. But skijorers also like the exercise and the camaraderie with the family pet. And for those who already own a dog and cross-country gear skijoring is a relatively inexpensive pursuit.

The equipment is designed and made by small companies like Perry Greene Outfitters, in Waldoboro, Me., which sells the basic waist belt, towline and dog harness for $65 at www.mainely-dogs.com.

according to webster's dictionary, the word skijoring (or its more scandinavian looking variant skiöring) is a modification of norwegian skikjøring, from ski + kjøring "driving", related to old norse keyra "to drive" (and perhaps to sanksrit javate "he hurries on"). it denotes "a winter sport in which a person wearing skis is drawn over snow or ice by a horse or vehicle". no mentioning of a dog.

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