Ski Joring: The Grandaddy of ‘Em All
The Thrills, Chills and Spills of Leadville Ski Joring
The 65th Annual Leadville Ski Joring competition was held in Leadville on March 1 & 2 on historic Harrison Avenue. Dubbed as Leadville’s Downtown Winter Celebration, this event stands as a testament for this small mountain town’s ability to have fun in the snow!
Fourteen-year-old Savannah McCarthy riding Snicker, fly down the avenue with Mario Giarratano on skis hanging on tight! Photo: Kathleen Bryan.And the snow was the guest of honor, showing up before, during, and after the event, making for a year of fast-paced, big drama action on the course. And while the on and off snow squalls provided a dramatic backdrop for visitors’ photos and videos, it’s always the high-flyin’ athletic prowess of horse, rider, and skier that keep the crowds coming back for more.
“Leadville Ski Joring was a huge success this year! It was a great event for competitors, as well as spectators,” stated Leadville Ski Joring organizer Jason Dahl.
In all, there were 16 horse, 10 riders and 21 skiers who competed in three divisions: the Open, Sport and Legends. And while most would tell you they do it for the love of the sport, in the end it was hometown favorite Greg Dahl who was crowned the reigning champion for the 2014 Leadville Ski Joring event. For complete race results: LINK.
There’s no doubt that the sport of Ski Joring is a true competition for racers, growing in popularity across the country, however, in Leadville, the event’s genesis remains in the spirit of tourism. Much like the famed Leadville Ice Palace or today’s Leadville Trail 100 race events, the event provides a way to attract tourists to the area. To that end, it’s a Wild West Show that never disappoints.
“We had crowds of over 1,000 people each day, even with the inclement weather and road closures,” added Dahl. Yes, the event was likely to see even more spectators had I-70 not been shut down from east of the Eisenhower Tunnel to west of Vail Pass for most of Saturday morning, March 1. The social media platforms reported many spectators en route to the event simply gave up and went home after hours of being stuck in traffic, going nowhere.
And bad weather was also the cause of a horse trailer in trouble on Battle Mountain, which was eventually released from winter’s icy grips and made it to town with enough time to take on the Harrison Avenue challenge.
The event brought good crowds to Harrison Ave to watch the thrills and chills, as well as pump some money into local businesses. And a quick check with business owners, law enforcement and event organizers, tallied a overall win for the event. In addition, Leadville Ski Joring captured some good media coverage for the event – and Leadville – with race highlights airing on KDVR-TV Fox 31 news out of Denver, as well as a fun and informative Colorado Public Radio interview and great article in 303 (Denver) Magazine. For more photos and videos of th eevent, please visit the Leadville Ski Joring Facebook page.
Kids Take Turn on Historic Harrison Ave
If you’re going to put on an event like Ski Joring, then it’s probably best to have a Kids Event as well. That way, you are assured that there will be future competitors. And this year, the Kids Events for Ski Joring was expanded to include competition on BOTH Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday morning started off with a bang as 18 kids took their turn at taking to the course for the fun of it! Next up was the timed competition: Here are those results for Saturday, March 1. In the 8, 9, & 10-year-old division the winners were First Place Talus Schreiber, 8, with a time of 27.19, Second Place Francis Hupcey, 8 with a time of 32.94 and Third Place Rylee Dahl, 7 (not pictured) with a time of 49.27. In the 11 & older division, First Place went to Hunter Moore, 12 with a time of 24.25, Second Place Matthew Wadsworth, 13 with of a time of 26.70, and Third Place Matt Koch, 11 with a time of 34.18.
Sunday’s kids Events saw a decline in participation in the Kids Events most likely due to the Paintball Biathlon competition out at Tennessee Pass Nordic Center. Regardless, nine kids still got their chance at taking a run on the course for fun.
In the timed competition, the 8, 9, & 10 age division saw a repeat podium with Talus Schreiber, 8, in First Place at a time of 23.03, Francis Hupcey, 8, took Second Place in with a time of 24.43. and Rylee Dahl, 7, rounded out the top three in Third Place with a time of 1:17.81.
In the 11 and up a division the competition was slim, but the two top contenders were the same, only this day some time was shaved off the final times, placing Hunter Moore, 12 in First Place with a time of 20.01 and Matthew Wadsworth, 13, in Second Place at 20.62. Thanks to everyone who competed and volunteered to make this event happen. It’s great to see Leadville kids out enjoying all the adventure the high country has to offer.
Nordic Knockouts in the Dark: Winter Fun!
Competitors in the Nordic Knockout Harrison Sprints gathered under the Harrison Avenue lights on the last day of February 2014 to kick off the annual downtown winter celebration. The conditions set up nicely as snow continued to fall throughout the event.
Many of the local high school Nordic skiers tipped up to the start line and fared quite well. Participants raced the main drag with great Nordic spirit, marking for many, the last race of the season. The competition was a double elimination with two skiers starting and the fastest racer advancing to the next round of the competition. Congratulations to the winners:
- Winner: Lucas Milliken
- Runner Up: Ryan Morrison
- Winner: Jenna Dokken
- Runner Up: Gina Sheldrake
- Winner: Joe Koch
- Runner Up: Caroline Benney
- Winner: Gabbie Tait
- Runner Up: Viola Sterk
Teens Top Contenders at Paintball Biathlon
It was Teens Reign Supreme at the Annual Paintball Biathlon held on March 2 at the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center. Yes, racers in their teens ranked first in all three races: 1k, 5k, 10k.
At the top of the heap was Leadville high school Nordic skier Charlie Koch, 16 who took top place on the 10k podium, a strong minute and a half lead over second-place racer Soren Frykhom,20, and Third place finisher Alex Perkins, 40 coming in at 28:28 and 28:53 respectively.
The 5k saw 41 racers ranging from 8 to 60 years in age, but it was the teen/tweeners who took the top three places: Asher Brown 17, with a final time of 17:48; Whiney White, 15 (LCHS Nordic Team) with an 18:04 final time, and Nathan Miller, 11 close behind at 18:17.
For the younger set, the 5k was the right pace and distance and 13-year-old Milo Lewon came out on top with a final time of 3:26. The youngest competitor was 3-year-old Helen Fiedler – good for you!