Jay Copp 2017-07-19 16:32:01
In southern Wyoming cowboys and skiers are easy to find, so Saratoga Lions staged a weekend project centered on a growing fad that incorporates elements of both. The club held a skijoring competition. Twoperson teams—one on a horse and the other on skis pulled by the horse—navigated a twisty 600-foot course full of gates and four-foot bumps. The horses ran on dirt, and the skiers glided over snow. Missing a gate meant a five-second penalty. Seventy races were held each day. Some competitors were neophytes. “There were some great falls. But no one was hurt,” says Lion Will Faust, a past president. Emergency personnel were on hand just in case. Some of the nation’s best skijorers raced. The winners completed the course in 11 seconds. That’s averaging 38 mph. Of course, hurling wide to swing around a gate, the skiers were moving even 10 mph faster at times. The club had held chariot races for 35 years on the same course outside town. But finding competitors had been problematic. The club already had bleachers, a trailer and PA system in place, making the transition to the new event easier. The event was more than a race: it was a happening. “Oh, yeah—you’ve got music playing, hamburgers grilling, beer. A lot of fun,” says Faust, whose friend’s horse, Daisy, pulled him through the course. Talk about fun—“That’s the most fun you can have other than … well, don’t quote me on this.” Even after the club paid $8,400 in prize money, it walked away with $5,000, thanks to sponsors, entry and spectator fees and an evening concert. Profits will fund scholarships, a fishing derby and other concerns. The clubs’ 56 members are busy. “We raise $80,000 a year and give that away. Not bad for a small town [population 1,600],” says Faust. The club is adept at adapting to challenges. Unseasonably warm weather, coupled with sunny skies, melted away the snow needed for skiers. So members enlisted a fleet of dump trucks to haul in snow.
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