North Routt students try skijoring for fun, Winter Carnival preparation |

North Routt students try skijoring for fun, Winter Carnival preparation

Margaret Hair

North Routt Community Charter School student Will Zupan rides his horse, Bubba, to pull Mary White, left, and his sister Zava down the driveway Friday to practice skijoring in preparation for this week's Winter Carnival.
Matt Stensland

— Before stepping into her skis to be pulled behind a horse for the first time, Savannah Slater figured she would "just keep my balance" and hope for the best.

Holding a rope and sliding down Routt County Road 56 behind a big white horse named Porsche, Savannah stayed upright on her first skijoring run. The downhill skier and sixth-grade student at North Routt Community Charter School joined about half a dozen friends Friday afternoon for a few first-time runs at a winter activity that will be featured Feb. 6 and 7 during the 97th annual Winter Carnival.

Warm-enough temperatures and melted snow pushed the skijoring party and Winter Carnival training session from a field near NRCCS to C.R. 56, where The Lowell Whiteman School horse program director and computer technician Trenia Sanford keeps several horses on her ranch.

Sanford organized the skijoring session after visiting North Routt to talk about The Lowell Whiteman School, she said. When students said they'd like to visit the horses used in the private school's riding program, Sanford offered to bring them closer to home for a day of animal-powered skiing.

"They're a pretty active school like we are. They cross-country ski and snowshoe, and I think this will be a nice addition to their repertoire," Sanford said about the skijoring expedition.

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Will Zupan — an eighth-grader at NRCCS who regularly com­petes in roping events at junior rodeos — lent Bubba, one of his family's horses, to Friday's effort. Opting to pull his friends down the road in front of his family's house instead of skiing Friday, Will said he'll probably do some skiing during next weekend's Winter Carnival street events. For the past two years, Will has competed in the donkey jump, a skijoring event with a small kicker at the end of the road.

North Routt eighth-grader Mary White took her first skijoring run down the Zupans' driveway, holding on to a rope with sixth-grader and skijoring veteran Zava Zupan as Will and Bubba hauled them down the gently sloping drive. Mary said she'd think about trying skijoring during Winter Carnival if she enjoyed her first outing.

"I was really excited to try it, just to have another experience that helped my life and challenged me," Mary said.

Registration for skijoring and other Winter Carnival street events opened Jan. 29 and will remain open through Friday at the Steamboat Springs Visitor Center. Pre-registration is required for all horse events, including skijoring, donkey jump and the shovel race. Learn more about the street events in the Winter Carnival Guide in today's Steamboat Pilot & Today. Registration information also is available through the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association by calling 879-0880 or visiting