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Skijoring takes over Teton County Fairgrounds in Driggs for the weekend

DRIGGS, Idaho (KIFI)- A Teton Valley Tradition has once again made its way to the Teton County Fairgrounds in Driggs. The Skijoring Grand races hosted by the Teton Valley Skijoring club is going on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25.

Skijoring is where a skier is being pulled through a course while holding onto a rope. Skiers are typically being pulled by horses but machines and dogs can also be used in the event.

This year's iteration of the event was even bigger than last year, which gave organizers a big thrill.

"We have about 178 competitors across 153 teams. So both days here, Saturday and Sunday, those teams are going to race one time and then they have a combined total for Saturday and Sunday and that's who's going to be able to win those cherished belt buckles," Elliot Paull the executive director of Teton Valley Skijoring said.

Paull adds they have more racers than last but thanks to enviormental factors they can't add on more.

"There's only so much daylight in the day to get through 150 races. So we kind of cop it right there," Paull said.

Paull also shared that the community support has also grown. He says having the event in Driggs, means a lot.

"To have this sport here in Driggs, Skijoring is that perfect blend of Western Culture and that the winter sports, you know, skiing and snowboarding, you get that adrenaline fueled rush of getting pulled behind a horse obstacle course, the race course going back fastest time.  And it's just a special event to bring everybody gather here in the in the area and really the whole Intermountain region," Paull said.

One family fell in love with the event last year, and is wanting to make their attendance of the event an annual tradition.

"She (my daughter) was born February 8. So this is the first event that we were able to get out of the house and take her to. And so we're looking forward to this year and making an annual event for the family," Jason Rafeld said.

He adds that attending the event for him and his family has been a blast.

"Seeing the horses and that all the fun that we had, seeing seeing the community come out to an event like this and seeing the horses and the get outside and obviously the weather's beautiful and sunny out, So yeah it's a great day," Rafeld said.

The competitors shared that they loved their time in the Teton Valley, and the course they were on was fast.

"It's pretty fast. It's getting a little soft with everything warming up here. But it's it's a really fun course. That's when I like it a lot. It's good," said Grant Sadusky.

"So it's a fun race, all ages to do it and it's a fast course out there. So the Open's definitely going to be quick," Kyle Voigtlander said.

"A little tricky for the horses this afternoon. The Snow softened up a lot so the holes got a little deeper, but hopefully they'll do some grooming and tossing it out. But overall, snow was good for the skiers and gates are greatly pleased and I'm excited to have that extra ring for extra, extra points, so," Caroline Bridsall said.

"It was really cold last night and so it's like a little bit of slush on top of really cold snow. So I was really grippy and I was able to carve and turn fast. And then my second run was really fast, and I held on until the last second and let go right before the final gate and missed the gate. But Tomorrow I hope to not do that," Kimberly Paull said.

Each competitor shared a different story as to how they ended up becoming a skijorer.

"I live down in Swan Valley just a little ways from here over the hill, and we've got a few friends that have a number of horses and we saw an event a couple of years ago and decided to give it a shot this past year previous to this one and this year we've been doing a little bit of competing and trying to get a few competitions in over the winter," Sadusky shared.

"I grew up ski racing in the Sierra Nevada in a little town called Bear Valley, and I moved to Montana to attend MSU and got involved in agriculture and around horses. And I got hooked up with some friends and just started doing it. And it's something I fell in love with it," Voigtlander said.

Voigtlander also encourages people to just try it out and have some fun doing something new.

"Last year, I went to watch the Big Sky competition, and I absolutely fell in love with it.I absolutely love this sport so much. So over the whole summer, I asked every single person I knew if they had a horse. I ended up finding a group to ski with Wild West Skijoring, and we've gone to five races so far this winter. I got a belt buckle in Boulder, Montana, which was awesome in the novice division. So racing in the women's event last weekend has been great and that's a bit of a different competition," Bridsall said.

She added "It's been absolutely amazing. I don't come from a ski racing background. I was just an alpine skier, so it's fun to compete with the big shots out here."

"My husband, Elliot Paull is the event director. He is friends with Neal Stobaugh, and we all got kind of roped in and got him in his right hand man. And I am the right right hand woman. And I kind of I thought it'd be fun to participate and see it from a competitor perspective," Paull said.

She shared that it was a lot of fun and her fellow women competitors were good sports and very friendly.

"we're all giving each other high fives, introducing ourselves, really supportive. We did have a couple of practice days, which gave me the confidence to actually try it out first and then go ahead and go for it," Paull said.

The event will continue on Feb. 25, opening ceremonies will be at 9:45 a.m. and the first races will take off at 10:00 a.m. For more information on the event you can go here.

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Braydon Wilson

Braydon is a reporter for Local News 8.


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