Clearwater’s third annual Skijoring Race features new race classes

Look forward to speed races, slalom events and big air jumps

Wells Gray Riders Association (WGRA) is hosting its third annual Skijoring Race next week at the field northeast of Raft River Elementary School.

The event will offer different race classes and categories for skijoring enthusiasts to choose from.

“We’re putting it on for a couple of reasons. One is because skijoring is a growing winter event, which our community and area can definitely benefit from,” said Candus Graffunder, organizing committee member.

“As we know we don’t have much of a winter economy in our tourism town and we’re hoping we can grow from that.”

A different feature of the event this time around is new classes for youth categories because organizers noticed skijoring was a hit with the younger crowd.

It’s not just the youth who enjoy the skiing and snowboarding aspect either, Graffunder noted, but young equestrian riders as well who want to take part.

With this in mind, the WGRA added a junior youth category for children 10 to 15 years old, to go along with the senior youth category for those 16 to 19 years old and then the adult class for participants 20 years old and over.

As for the events, both participants and spectators can look forward to speed races, which are done on a straight track about 200 metres long. The speed race is a timed event that has a single racer and rider tearing down the track at a time and whichever team finishes the fastest wins.

There will be a slalom event, also on the straight track, but with obstacles to maneuver around to make things more interesting, and another new feature WGRA is hoping to add this year awards participants for best jump.

“There’ll be jumps on the straight track and it won’t be timed at this one. There will be a time to complete it but it’s going to be judged on the best or fanciest jump,” said Graffunder.

“We’ll be keeping in mind height and distance. How it’ll be judged at this point, I’m not quite sure, but we do want to incorporate that because over the last two years there was a jump, but it was on the speed class, so if you took the jump you risked losing speed, so not very many people were encouraged to take it. It’ll be good for both skiers and snowboarders.”

The final track the organization is hoping to make this year is a distance track, which also hasn’t been done in the past.

Organizers said this will depend on the weather and how the field is groomed, but the idea is to make it a timed event that has riders and racers loop around the outer part of the field.

Something else to note is there’ll be a costume contest at the Skijoring Race, so it’s recommended dress up in whatever fun outfits they think will add to the fun.

“The first year the event was held, just random people showed up in costumes, which kind of sparked it for the next year to do a costume contest,” Graffunder said.

“That was fairly successful. Probably more than 50 per cent of our participants dressed up and this year again we’ll be continuing that.”

Past experience isn’t required for those who want to participate, so anyone who might want to take part is encouraged to sign up.

The race is scheduled for Feb. 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Those looking to take part in the races can contact Graffunder at 250-674-1650.

READ MORE: Horsing around on skis

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