Skijoring in Minnesota 101

Does your doggo have some pent-up energy this winter? Are you decent on skis (and willing to layer ruthlessly)? Skijoring might be the perfect sport for both of you. Check out this clip of two teams skijoring down Nicollet Mall during last year’s Super Bowl Live:

What the heck is skijoring?
Skijoring (pronounced “ski-joring” with the j) is cross-country skate skiing with your dog (or horse!) helping to pull you along. It comes from the Norwegian word skikjøring, meaning ski driving. Contrary to classic skiing, where you ski in a set of parallel tracks, skate skiers point their toes outward, similar to ice skating, and ski on a wide, groomed trail of packed snow. If your pup weighs at least 30 pounds and ruvs to pull (or regularly walks you instead of the other way around) you’ve got a great skijoring candidate.

What gear do I need to get started?
Skijoring requires minimal equipment: a pair of skate skis and poles, a harness for your dog, a belt or harness for you, and a shock-corded tug line to connect you and Fido together. Skis and poles can be rented in the chalet at most parks, but you’ll have to bring your own harnesses and tug line. Ely, MN-based Kondos Outdoors offers a full skijoring kit on its website, and several local sporting shops carry ’em, too. And don’t forget poop bags to keep that trail clean.

Where can my dog and I learn?
You can get on-snow training through the Loppet Skijor Club. The two of you can also learn and practice on your own if:

  • You can ski down a small hill fairly well.
  • Your dog weighs at least 30 pounds and knows basic commands.
  • You can skate ski. (Need to learn first? Many local parks offer lessons.)

Where can we get out on the trail?
The Three Rivers Park District has six skijoring trails, and Theodore Wirth Regional Park in Minneapolis also welcomes skijorers. Bring your own skis or rent ’em there. Many Minnesota state parks groom skijoring trails, too. Call ahead to see which one’s closest to you. (Do you know another great spot to go skijoring in Minnesota? Woof at us in the comments below.)

Where can we cheer on competing skijorers?
You and pupper don’t have to be the ones on the trail to get in on the fun of this tail-waggin’ winter sport. The City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival kicks off in Minneapolis on January 31. Cheer on the pups and their people at the Chuck & Don’s Skijoring Sprints on February 1, the Chuck & Don’s Skijoring Loppet and One-Dog National Championship on February 2, and the Chuck & Don’s Point-to-Point Skijoring Loppet on February 3. Want more skijor? Head up to Mora, MN, for the Mora Skijoring Races on February 10. BYOC (bring your own cowbell).

(Photo by @laurie_and_jack.s_adventures)

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