Regardless of the season you visit Big Sky, Montana, the majestic vistas of the wilderness will take your breath away. Surrounded by prominent mountain peaks and open land as far as the eye can see will give you a perspective of nature that you won't find in many other areas. During the winter season, the area is brimming with fun activities for everyone to enjoy. Plan a trip to one of the renowned ski resorts in Big Sky and take advantage of the powder for which the region is world famous. Head out on an cross-country ski excursion, through the miles and miles of scenic trails that wind through the countryside. Hop on a snowmobile and explore the mountains that dominate the landscape. From backcountry skiing, to hot air balloon rides, the winters here are fun and will leave you with a lasting winter vacation memories. The area is also known for its winter festivals and gatherings, and one event that has recently been gaining traction is Ski Joring at 320 Guest Ranch.
For the past six years the Ski Joring event at 320 Guest Ranch has been steadily growing and attracting spectators and participants from all over the country. This one-of-a-kind event combines horseback riding and skiing into an extremely enjoyable event for spectators and those competing. As the competitors make their way through the challenging course, you’ll be able to watch all of the fun while enjoying tasty treats and refreshments. When the competition is over, the onsite 320 Steakhouse opens its doors with a full menu of delicious meals. After dinner, live music will be played and it's the perfect opportunity for you to socialize and get to know new people. Don't miss out on one of the most unique and fastest growing events in the region, and make your reservation at 320 Guest Ranch today! We interviewed Megan Coppola, Marketing Manager for the 320 Guest Ranch, to talk about this unique event.
RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.
MC: This is the 6th Annual Ski Joring. Last year we had 33 teams of two, competing in the Junior, Women, and Open divisions. Our spectators our typically comprised of families, children, grandparents, cowboys/cowgirls, and even dogs! The participants are a wide range of locals, skiers, and people who ride horses. Some racers that travel the Ski Joring circuit across multiple states.
RAL: What makes the event unique?
MC: Ski Joring is a combination of two skillful sports at high speeds through a difficult and challenging course. Having three components working together to complete the course is difficult. The horse has to run fast and well. The rider needs to be able to control the horse and manage the ski behind them. The skier must navigate turns around gates, jumps, and banked turns while holding on to the rope pulled at 20 MPH. The high action and thrilling runs are enjoyed by the spectators as well as all the falls and missed jumps or turns.
RAL: Take me through a day at the event.
MC: We start on Saturday with registration at noon. Then horses/riders/skiers walk the course to get a feel for what they’ll be competing on. At 1:00 pm, the Ski Joring begins with the national anthem sung by a local attendee. The first heat of races commences, followed by a break around 2:30 pm with a free spectator race for kids and adults. Then the second heat commences. The races conclude around 4:30 pm.
A free concert follows at 8:00 pm by a local country and western band, the Rocky Mountain Pearls. On Sunday, we hold the Ski Joring Finals starting at 11:00 am. We hold another kids/adults spectator race between the first and second heat. The races usually finish around 2:00 pm, with awards to follow.
RAL: What else will people find at the event?
MC: This year the National Guard will be awarding the 320 Guest Ranch a certificate of appreciation for our involvement with the Guard-as our executive chef is in the Montana chapter.
We offer concessions at the event: chili, walking tacos, popcorn, sodas, hot chocolate, coffee and adult beverages. We also have Red Lodge Ale Brewing and Bozeman Spirits on hand, sampling their Montana products. The 320 Steakhouse and Saloon serves dinner from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
RAL: What is the overall environment of the event?
MC: The environment is ski bum meets cowboy. The event is outdoors, so everyone is dressed accordingly for the weather, with a wide range of spectators from cowboys to skiers to mom's pushing strollers. The energy is high, as the action on the course drives the excitement level up. It has that western flavor as the race is located in one of our pastures and near our barn.
RAL: Why should people come?
MC: You won’t find many events like ours! It has been gaining popularity each year and the Ski Joring community continues to grow. The 320 Ranch is one of the only Ski Joring races held at a ranch, which lends to that western experience. As of now, it can only be seen live. At this time these events are not televisions. It is a very Montana, western experience -- ski bum meets cowboy. You can join in on the fun in many ways by watching the races, signing up to participate or joining in on the free spectator races at the break. It is a great event for all ages, families, groups or reunions.
For more information about this event, please visit their website.