Anna Jessen pulls her husband, Pete, in a recent skijoring competition. The two got into the sport about a year ago and along with a handful of other enthusiasts are responsible for bringing a new event to Big Sky. “We were always looking for ways to keep our horses busy,” Pete said. “Most horses are in winter pasture this time of year, but we wanted to keep them and ourselves busy.”

Skijoring competition coming to Town Center this weekend

Just days after deciding to bring an annual, sanctioned Ski Joring America competition to Big Sky, Big Sky Resort Ski Patroller Pete Jessen, his wife Anna and a handful of other skijoring enthusiasts created the Big Sky Skijoring Association.

Within a few weeks, the BSSA had raised more than double what it needed to get the competition going. “We’ve gotten so much local support, it’s been flattering,” Jessen said during a quick break from patrolling. “The amount of interest has been astounding, off the charts.”

Jessen, who’s been into skijoring for about a year, said western Montana is the epicenter of skijoring, with about 80 percent of the competitors in the national circuit originating here. “But there was no sanctioned event here, so we wanted to do something about that,” he said. 

The competition, known as Best in the West Showdown, will take place on a more than 700-foot horseshoe-shaped track on Town Center fields near the rodeo area on March 17 and 18. Nearby, inside the bleacher arena, there will be vendors selling food, drinks, horse tack and event souvenirs.  

Since it’s the last stop in the Ski Joring America race schedule, the Showdown has also become the SA American Championship Finals, and on Sunday the winners of not only the Big Sky competition, but the overall winner of this winter’s events as a whole, will be announced. Awards will take place at Choppers Grub & Pub starting at around 6 p.m.

Spectator admission will be $5, and Jessen said a majority of proceeds after expenses will be donated to Heroes and Horses, a non-profit that uses pack trips to benefit wounded combat veterans. Some of the funds will also go to the Erika Pankow Foundation, a local scholarship program that’s granted to youths interested in outdoors, medical, search and rescue or avalanche related skills.

For event timing check out the back page of this issue, and for more information visit Big Sky Skijoring Association’s Facebook page.



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