"It's Alpine meets equine: During 'Cabin Fever' time: It's something to do outside when there's really nothing else to do outside."

That's how event organizer and owner/operator of Skijor Bangor, Jodi MacGregor, describes a new event coming to the Bangor Raceway this March.

Skijor 1, courtesy of Skijor Bangor with permission from participants
Skijor 1, courtesy of Skijor Bangor with permission from participants
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According to the SkijorBangor website, while the sport is fairly new to Maine, it's been going on for generations around the globe, and even in other states in the U.S.:

"The name skijoring is derived from the Norwegian word skikjøring, meaning ski driving. Historically used as a mode of transport, equestrian skijoring made its way from Europe to Lake Placid, New York, in 1915 as a recreation activity. Today, equestrian skijoring races can be found throughout the midwest and western United States."

The Skijor Bangor Facebook Page breaks it down even further for us.

"Skijor Bangor is a time-trial race where a horse and rider pull a snowboarder or alpine skier down a 1,000-foot track of gates, rings and jumps. Participants will compete for swag and cash prizes."

Skijor 2, courtesy of Skijor Bangor with permission from Jamie Walter
Skijor 2, courtesy of Skijor Bangor with permission from Jamie Walter
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MacGregor, who has a background in both horseback riding and skiing, was inspired to bring the sport to Bangor after seeing her great-niece and nephew compete in the event in Skowhegan back in 2019.

"Skowhegan started this about 5 years ago as part of their Winterfest. I went the first year...and there was this makeshift track and few hundred people there But I said 'Oh my God, this is gonna get huge.' And it's grown every year, and it has. Now there's a few thousand people."

Skijor 3, courtesy of Skijor Bangor with permission from participants
Skijor 3, courtesy of Skijor Bangor with permission from participants
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MacGregor said that the fairground in Thopsam followed suit a few years ago. Then she started to plan an event in Bangor, a kind of a "Triple Crown" Circuit event: Thopsam to start, Skowhegan follows, and then the culmination being Bangor's event.

She says many of these teams (horse and riders and skiers/snowboarders) find each other online through a Skijor Maine Facebook page but have never met before until the day of the event. Others do meet up in advance and practice in advance.

"It's pretty exciting. They fall. They go over jumps. The crowd gets going. It's loud. It's exciting. People will stomp their feet in the grandstands and really get the crowd going."

 

MacGregor says the novices start the event off, but then when the pros take to the course, it's a sight to see.

"When you see that first pro team come down the track it's like 'Oh my God! Look at this!' Because they can go up to 35 miles an hour!"

MacGregor says in years passed, in the other locations, people have come from all over the state to compete. She hopes that for the Bangor event, people will come from all over New England and maybe even Canada because she'll be able to offer riders stalls, as Bangor's racetrack is open year round.

There will be a Friday Night Pre-party right at the grandstand, where competitors can come early, have some food and a drink, get their bib early, and meet the other folks in the competition.

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Orono Brewing Company will be sponsoring the beer garden at the event. There will be patio heaters, fire pits, and a hot chocolate booth.  Greenleaf's Trackside Grille will be open for food, as well, MacGregor says.

MacGregor says Skijor is pretty big out west, at the moment, where in places like Montana and Colorado they actually shut down entire streets for these competitions.

The Skijor Bangor event is scheduled to take place Saturday, March 2nd 2024, starting at 10 AM.

For more information, you can check out this link.

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