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Skijoring: The Next Big Sport?

David Nathan

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Nothing beats mixing up your exercise routine. Have you ever heard of skijoring? This hundred-year-old sport is hugely popular in Scandinavia, but has yet to make a big splash here in Canada.

“The second you’re being pulled by an animal, it’s skijoring, explains Ludovic Coulaux, French vice-champion and specialist in the sport. This can be done by a pony, a horse or a dog. The sport originated in Norway and is very popular there, where most kids have a dog that takes them from point A to point B.”

When pulled by dogs, skijoring is quite similar to cross-country skiing. “You can practice skijoring with one or two dogs, says Ludovic Coulaux. It’s pretty much the same as cross-country skiing, aside from the fact the dogs help the skier and that you reach higher speeds. But the movements are the same.”

Although the sport doesn’t require much in the way of technique, it is important to take a short training session. “Skijoring is not dangerous, but you do have to learn the basics of staying safe, explains Ludovic Coulaux. If the skier doesn’t master the sport, he can easily hurt the dog. If the dog is not experienced, he’ll run off the course the second he sees a squirrel.”

Benefits for the body are similar to those of cross-country skiing, with an added bonus… “The fact that you’re with a dog plays a role on the psyche, you’re not making the effort alone, you’re part of a team, so your motivation goes up,” says Ludovic Coulaux. He goes on to say that it is one of the most complete endurance sports out there, working several muscle groups.

Today, there aren’t too many places in Canada where one can practice skijoring. As a matter of fact, Ludovic Coulaux plans on opening his own federation in Quebec within the next few months. To be continued…

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