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What You Need to Know About Skijoring and Other Cool Winter Sports

By Kellie Davenport

When it comes to skiing, there are many ways to power your boards: with gravity (alpine), a motorboat (waterskiing) and your own muscles (cross-country). Or you could employ a dog, horse or reindeer and try skijoring.

Norwegian for “ski driving,” skijoring is a cross between dogsledding and skiing. Popular in Scandinavian countries for centuries, it’s on the rise in North America today. The Sámi people, also known as Laplanders, invented the sport as they sought new ways to traverse vast stretches of snow-covered land. The ancient Indigenous peoples of northern Scandinavia strapped on Nordic skis and harnessed reindeer to power them.

Modern skijoring usually relies upon dogs. The skier wears a quick-release harness, with a rope or line connected to a dog’s harness. As your canine power source picks up speed, you move swiftly over the snow. According to Skijor Canada, the leading advocate of the sport in this country, skijoring is one of the fastest growing winter sports in North America. Exhibitions, competitive races and events dedicated to the emerging sport are popping up across Alberta. Last year, Banff’s SnowDays Winter Festival hosted an equestrian skijoring exhibition, which thrilled bystanders with plenty of high-adrenaline action.

Why these western Canadian ski resorts are great for non-skiers

To try this Scandi-sport yourself, book with Canmore’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen Sled Dogs Expeditions. The outfitter offers tours and clinics, as well as private lessons in the Spray Lakes area. Participants should be experienced cross-country skiers to tackle the terrain.

Winter medicine walk: Traipse through the snow-bound wonderland that is Grotto Canyon with Mahikan Trails. You’ll learn ancient survival skills and fascinating Indigenous history.

Snowmobiling in Golden: Climb up to 2,000 metres into a snow-pounded alpine bowl—on an eco-friendly snowmobile—with White N’ Wild Tours. Golden is now considered the epicentre of the sport in B.C. and Canada.

Snowshoeing in the wild: Guided by the pros at Uplift Adventures, you can pounce through pillow-soft powder in a remote valley in Castle Wildland Provincial Park. The trek is ideal for families.