A stampede of skijoring teams will ride again on Blair Street this weekend, Feb. 16-17 in the fourth annual Silverton Skijoring Festival.
And this year they’ll be competing for even more prize money.
Organizer Pete Maisel said he expects bigger crowds, along with plenty of horses and skiers. He expects about 20 teams to compete. And the purse for winners this year is likely to be between $4,000 and $5,000.
“That rivals Leadville, by the way,” said Maisel, referring to the popular skijoring event there. “”I’m proud of that.”
Skijoring combines skiing skills with those of a cowboy. Teams comprised of a horseback rider and skier run as fast as possible down a 250-yard, snow-packed course — in this case up Notorious Blair Street in downtown Silverton.
The skier is required to go over three jumps and gather six rings before crossing the finish line. The fastest, cleanest ride wins. But for spectators, the event is free.
Hundreds are expected to line Blair Street for the racing, which starts at 11 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday.
Blair Street and Mineral Street will be closed during the event from 9th Street to 14th Street.
And no dogs will be allowed along the skijoring course, for safety reasons.
“We love dogs,” Maisel said. “We don’t want them to get hurt.”
Maisel issued a call for volunteers Wednesday, pointing out that those helping out will get a free long-sleeve T-shirt.
Maisel reminded volunteers to please show up at the Bent Elbow at 9:30 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Early registration will be at the Grand Imperial Hotel from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15. Lacy Black will perform on piano
Race registration will be at 8:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Bent Elbow.
Parental permission is required for participants under 18 years of age (parent must be present).
The cost of participating is $25 per rider or skier per day or $50 each for 2-day participation.
This fee includes two races for each day you are registered.
Cash prizes will be awarded for best times.
Live entertainment is planned Saturday night, Feb. 6 at the Miners Tavern, with the band Moving On.
Maisel noted the event keeps getting bigger each year.
And he urged Blair Street residents “to please be patient with us” as their street is transformed into a course with jumps and snowpack grandstands for the weekend.