The grounds at Charging Home Stampede Park were packed with vehicles last weekend, and the entire area was stacked deep with plowed snowpiles, ready for the first annual Blackfeet Skijoring. Blackfeet Manpower’s Christy Horn said plans for the event have been in the works the past five or six years. She said last month Gayle Skunkcap and Manpower staff observed the event and came back with a team of experts from Whitefish, Columbia Falls and Kalispell who helped set things up for the inaugural happening.
Things couldn’t have turned out better. Snow was appropriately in abundance on Saturday, but the winds were calm and the sun shone brightly. Scores of Manpower clients found employment in setting up and working the event, as well as some Browning High School students who filled in their community service hours.
As a result of the combined efforts, the course was expertly laid out and officials well placed. While the horses ran on the smooth portion of the track, skiers ran off to the side where a series of moguls tested their balance and skill. Not only was the Blackfeet Skijoring emblem colorfully blazed on a mogul facing the audience, all the moguls had colorful swirls painted on them. A total of 30 teams of riders and skiers competed in novice, sport and open categories, and other contests included folks of all ages.
Gayle Skunkcap was the emcee for Skijoring, introducing Blackfeet Chairman Scott Kipp who noted the Tribal Council was looking for a wintertime community event. He welcomed folks to Skijoring and predicted the stands will be filled next year.
They were pretty full anyway.
There was prayer, song by Young Grey Horse, and then attention shifted to the big group of horses, riders, skiers and officials at the far turn of the race course. Newly minted fans cheered as each pair took a shot at being quick and balanced, with an eye toward three hoops hanging from poles in front of the grandstand. Riders who survived the moguls then tried for hooking a hoop on their way to the finish.
Teams earned placement according to their times.
Altogether, the first Blackfeet Skijoring was a rousing success and great fun for everyone involved. Scores and times were not available at press time but will be featured in next week’s issue.
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