Skijoring (‘skē-jȯr-iŋ) is a winter sport where a person on skis is harnessed to and pulled by a dog (or dogs). It is derived from the Norwegian word skikjøring meaning ski driving. Winter Park has a trail that is open to skijoring everyday (except Saturdays) from noon to 5pm.
Skijoring with a dog is a sport in which a dog (or dogs), assist a cross-country skier. From one to three dogs are commonly used. The cross-country skier provides power with skis and poles, and the dog adds additional power by running and pulling. The skier wears a skijoring harness, the dog wears a sled dog harness, and the two are connected by a length of rope. There are no reins or other signaling devices to control the dog: The dog must be motivated by its own desire to run, and respond to the owner’s voice for direction.
Many breeds of dog participate in skijoring. The only prerequisite is a desire to run down a trail and pull, which is innate in many dogs. Small dogs (less than 35 pounds) are rarely seen skijoring, because they do not greatly assist the skier; however, since the skier can provide as much power as is required to travel, any enthusiastic dog can participate. Athletic dogs such as Pointers, Setters and herding breeds take to skijoring with glee, as do the northern breeds, such as Siberian and Alaskan Huskies, Malamutes, Samoyeds, and Inuit dogs; however, any energetic dog is capable of enjoying this sport. Golden Retrievers, Giant Schnauzers, Labs, and many cross-breeds are seen in harness. Pulling breeds work well also such as American Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers, American bull dogs, and mastiffs.
The sport is practiced recreationally, and competitively, both for long distance travel and for short (sprint) distances.