Skijoring races return to Leadville this weekend
Crystal Carnival Weekend offers up paintball biathlon, fat tire night bike races and skijoring
With the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing wrapped up and the Winter Mountain Games held this past weekend in Vail, you may be inspired to get out and do some sort of winter sports competitions. Now’s your chance to compete at the Crystal Carnival in Leadville on Saturday and Sunday.
Each year, Leadville hosts skijoring on Harrison Street downtown, but in addition to this event that includes a skier, a horse and a rider, there are Nordic and fat tire bike events.
Hit Leadville’s main drag under the lights on Friday night before the horses do on Saturday. The Harrison Nordic Knockout Sprint welcomes Nordic skiers to ski as fast as they can down the basically flat Harrison Avenue at night under the lights. Bring your headlamps — the race starts at 7 p.m. right outside of the Melanzana store at 716 Harrison Ave.
On Saturday, the race action will continue at night with the Leadville Winter Mountain Bike Series called Mineral Belt Mayhem. This will also be held at night, so get the head lamp charged up for a ride around the Mineral Belt trail, a loop that runs the perimeter of the City of Leadville, the highest incorporated city in North America at 10,152 feet above sea level. So, even though there’s not a ton of elevation gain along the Mineral Belt Trail, just the altitude you’re at from this elevation is tough and that air will be cold once the sun goes down.
This fat tire bike race will start at 6:15 p.m. and riders will travel for 13 miles after starting and finishing on Harrison Avenue. Warm up at the after-party and awards presentation held at Cycles of Life bike shop at 309 Harrison Ave.
On Sunday, the biathlon takes a twist by switching out a traditional rifle for a paintball gun. The Leadville Nordic Paintball Biathlon will take place at the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center on Sunday at 10 a.m. Try your Nordic skiing skills on the Nordic trails and see how you do with the paintball gun.
To stretch your athletic limits even more, there is an open class category in the skijoring events held on Saturday and Sunday. The skijoring races are the major events held throughout the weekend. There have been 74 runnings of the skijoring event throughout Leadville’s long history and the Nordic and fat tire bike events were added later. The Wrangler Network is even going to stream the skijoring event.
But alongside the pros, amateurs can try skijoring, where a horse and rider pull a skier over jumps and through a course that has rings the skier needs to “spear” in order to complete the course.
Open Division skiers must be pre-qualified, which means they need to have experience and/or receive approval at registration to enter.
“Typically, Sport Riders are leery of matching with a ‘first-timer’ skier but I’ve seen it done,” said Duffy Counsell, who is putting on the Leadville Ski Joring event.
“Most ‘Barry Newcomers,’ or amateurs, as well as any unmatched skiers who weren’t able to find a horse/rider to link up with may enter the Snowmobile Division,” Counsell said.
Kids can sign up for the snowmobile side of skijoring as well, which will be held both days after the horse, rider and skier portion wraps up.