THINGS TO DO:
My Alberta skijöring adventure begins in Barrhead, 120 km (75 mi) northwest of Edmonton. I hook two dogs to the skijöring line attached to the belt around my waist. They bark and then take off with me in tow. It’s a challenge to hold on, but that’s half the fun.
This fast growing sport combines dog sledding with skiing, usually classic cross-country skis. Experts sometimes use the more sporty skate skis. The dogs pull the skier, who is attached to them by a harness system and a bungee-type line.
This part of the trail is groomed and firm with a light dusting of new snow. It’s a cold, crisp sunny day. The odd spray of snow from the dogs reaches my face but it feels good. My left hand grips the line that runs to the dogs and my right hand holds my poles, which I may need if I take a tumble.
It’s kind of like water skiing. The trick is to get my balance in sync with the dogs, because when they speed up, I wobble forward. When they slow, if I don’t adjust, I can fall backward. It takes me a while to get used to that resistance changing quickly.
The sport started in Scandinavia years ago and has grown worldwide. Some people use only one dog. Your pooch should weigh at least 13.6 kg (30 lbs) to be able to pull you. You’ll need a harness system and should have intermediate cross-country skiing skills.
Key to Successful Skijöring
Success means training myself and training my dogs. They can get discouraged if I fall a lot. So I need to practice my skills.
There are Alberta skijöring clinics where you can learn how to do it, including meet up clubs where you can get together with like-minded people. It is a subculture of skiers that curious adventurers will enjoy.
Where to Get Started