Author Mike McFadzen and Woody take a break while skiing the Ice Age Trail in the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest.
Work had gotten the best of me, but with excellent snow conditions and a full moon, I wasn’t about to waste a perfectly good ski day. Woody, my 50-pound yellow lab mix, knew he was in for an evening adventure, as I ditched the khakis and dressed in cold weather ski garb.
It was 15 degrees when we unloaded at a nearby snowmobile trail. Marginal snow conditions for sledders would make for a perfect evening ski. Woody charged down the trail as I chased him on my fat waxless skis. I caught and passed Woody on a long looping downhill. We both enjoyed our evening ski in the heart of the Northern Kettle Moraine.
Many winter sports enthusiasts include their dogs during their winter outings. Whether they take Fido out for a winter hike, ski or into the competitive worlds of skijoring and sled dog racing, it’s important they keep your dog warm and safe.
Skijoring is a blend of cross-country skiing and dog sledding. This offshoot of mainstream sled dog racing is becoming more popular with several events scheduled in the Midwest. Almost any dog can pull, but dogs weighing 35 pounds or more are typically used.
Amy Cooper of Holmen, Wisconsin, did her first skijoring event with her house dog who sporadically stopped to pee on trees during the race. Nevertheless, she said she loved the dog/competition interaction and has never looked back.
Cooper recalled attending the 2011 Skijor World Championships in Norway. “My husband, Scott, and I skied the Norwegian Birkebeiner and then did the World Championships in Oslo the following week. It was an amazing experience I will never forget,” Cooper said.
Both Coopers are avid skiers with Scott having skied over 20 American Birkebeiners. Amy now races a four-dog sled team using Greysters, which are German Pointers crossed with Greyhounds. Her current goal is to compete at the 2015 four-dog World Championships in Sweden.
My wife, Karen, is a novice skijorer who has experienced the rush and wreckage of the sport. Karen loved the synergy of skate skiing with our late 125-pound dog Arctic, also a yellow lab mix, pulling her down the trail. And Arctic conveyed pure joy when pulling.
The entirety of Mike McFadzen's article about skijoring, including advice on getting started, appeared in the February 2014 print edition of Silent Sports magazine. To order a copy, call Cathy at 888-706-4045 or subscribe online here and don't miss an issue.