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It's an explosive combination of lightning fast horses and daredevil-skiing taken right to the edge. All held together by rope, guts and grit. Big Sky, MT skijoring's scene truly has something unique
BIG SKY, MT, January 12, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ -- The Big Sky Skijoring Association (BSSJ) announced their 5th annual Best In The West Showdown Presented By Delzer Diversified, Lone Mountain Land Company & RentBiz, coming to Big Sky on February 4-5, 2023.
Western states have transformed horseback riding and skiing into a combined action-packed competition where teams of horse, rider and skier negotiate a 900+ foot course, in the sport known as skijoring. The horse and rider pull a skier or snowboarder through jumps and gates on a technically designed course while the crowd goes wild. Southwest Montana has recently been the epicenter for the growth of competitive skijoring and has turned out some of the best skijoring teams in the country.
Skijoring to me is goosebumps, said Justa Adams, Executive Director of Big Sky Skijoring Association. "It's an explosive combination of lightning fast horses and daredevil-skiing taken right to the edge. All held together by rope, guts and grit. Combine that with this amazing Big Sky venue and support of this community… We've got something truly unique. These elements come together to inspire and thrill in a way I've never experienced."
Last year the Best In The West Showdown attracted over 150 teams with 3300 spectators cheering them on as they raced through the course on the south east end of Big Sky Town Center. The Showdown has made a name for itself due to its combination of progressive course design and style. There is nothing standard about The Showdown's course because… Well, there is nothing standard about its course designer. Colin Cook clicked into his first pair of skis when he was 2 years old at the Missoula Snowbowl and never looked back. He quickly took to ski racing and rose through the ranks to compete at the highest level of the Junior Olympics. Many would consider this to be a full ski racing career and one to be proud of. For Cook it was just the beginning.
"I kind of caught my second wind with skijoring," said Colin Cook. "The past 7 years of skijoring professionally has led to 2 national championships, a pile of prize earnings and a new found love of course design. What we are doing with the Showdown, it's a special place in time for skijoring. One where we are reimagining what is possible. I'm thankful to have the opportunity to bring these ideas to life and put my signature on each course we make. It's all thanks to the support of my team and this community."
The Showdown's design is the one of the first right handed dog leg tracks in competition. This model combined with creative terrain park design, elements of bank slalom, fire features and more have come together to create the most technical and progressive courses in the country.
"One of the reasons this race is a favorite amongst the competitors is because we put the safety of the horse first," said Patrick McVey, Course Groomer and General Manager at Lone Mountain Ranch. "Rider input, snow conditions, temperature, and decades of grooming and equine experience go into every pass we make on that course. When it's done, it's done right. I take a lot of pride in that."
This year Big Sky Skijoring's Best In The West Showdown will feature two new additions to the two day skijoring event. The Big Sky Ski Education Foundation (BSSEF) has partnered with BSSJ to host a freestyle snowmobile exposition as part of the pre show and half time entertainment both days. BSSEF Program Director, Jeremy Ueland was eager to partner with BSSJ, noting the natural cultural synergies of these two organizations and their desire to see this amazing community event grow. The exposition will feature Montana's own Keith Sayers FMX team riders Willie Elam and Mike Poirier. Elam is a veteran X Games competitor and bronze medalist. Poirier is a seasoned rider, YouTuber and entrepreneur putting on FMX shows across Manitoba and beyond. Founded by the living legend within the freestyle motocross and snowmobile scene, Keith Sayers FMX promises to bring some of the world's best to Big Sky.
"We are like no other FMX Show out there," said Keith Sayers. "The team of riders I have working with me are some of the best in the world. Working with world class freestyle motocross and Snowmobile athletes has helped put us where we are today, not only being amazing athletes on the machines but off the machines as well".
Sayers' closing comments about the quality and character of his team rings true, not only for FMX but for everyone involved in Big Sky Skijoring. Like most "overnight successes" it comes from humble beginnings, forged in the fire by passionate visionaries and given the chance to grow by the support and good will of its community.
It is with this very spirit that the community is gathering to host the 1st Annual Best In The West Showdown Welcome Parade on Saturday, February 4th from 4-5 PM. Led on horseback by the MSU Rodeo Team, the parade will come through Big Sky Town Center and feature a variety of custom made floats by community businesses, organizations and individuals. Participating downtown businesses will boast themed window displays and spectators are invited to create their own signs to show support for their favorite skijoring teams as they come through the procession.
Tickets are on sale now for the 5th Annual Best In The West Showdown at bigskyskijoring.com.
Big Sky Skijoring Association is a non-profit organization created to bring the wild, western combined sport of horseback riding and skiing (aka skijoring) to Big Sky, Montana.
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