Since its US debut in the 1950s, spectator-friendly skijoring has become a festive fixture in mountain towns from Sandpoint, Idaho, to Silverton, Colorado. But it wasn’t until last winter that this mash-up sport—where horse and rider tow a skier through a series of obstacles—debuted in Utah. Dillon Flinders, then a 16-year-old member of the Sundance Ski Team who’d never before skijored, swept both the regular and big-air competitions at last year’s Soldier Hollow Skijoring Competition, taking home the $4,500 cash prize and the belt buckle trophy.
The secret to his success? The start. “Most of the skiers that went before me held onto the end of the rope and got yanked when the slack let out,” Flinders says. “So I grabbed the rope about seven or eight feet from the end and started to squeeze as it dragged through my hands, easing into it just like a clutch on a truck.” As long as it doesn’t conflict with his ski racing schedule, Flinders says he plans to be back to defend his title at this year’s local skijoring event, scheduled for March 2-3, 2018.
For details and tickets to this winter’s Soldier Hollow Skijoring Competition, visit skijoringutah.com.