Skijoring’s Wild History

Getting dragged across the snow by horses, planes, reindeer and dogs is a unique sport that’s at least 1,000 years old.

By Jay Cowan

Skijoring, one of skiing’s oldest activities, has become one of the latest feel-good winter sports. If you’re doing the popular dog-powered variation—whether pulled around a cross-country track by your own fleet of Corgis, or using huskies supplied by an outfitter—you’re enjoying a recreation that dates back at least 1,000 years. 


The term “skijoring” comes from the Norwegian snørekjøring and means “ski driving.” Rock art in Scandinavia shows humans skiing as early as the 5th century AD. Later, there are depictions of skiers being pulled by elk (likely while being captured) and reindeer, possibly domesticated. The first written record of what we define as skijoring comes from the Altai Mountains of central Asia, via a Persian historian, Raschid ed-Din. He wrote in the 1200s AD, citing earlier use of skijoring from historical records of the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907 AD). ...

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