Colin Cook returns to Best of the West Skijoring competition – Explore Big Sky

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Outlaw Partners and Big Sky Skijoring rock Big Sky

By Tucker Harris EBS STAFF

BIG SKY – Colin Cook said he was done with skijoring for good in 2019.

Cook was the national champion, cashing more than $30,000 in checks in just two months. But after watching one of his friends and fellow competitors seriously injured at the skijoring championship held at Red Lodge, he decided he wanted to keep his body healthy and intact before embarking on the hunting and hunting seasons. fishing.

Skijoring, derived from the Norwegian word skikjøring, which means “ski driving”, is the competitive sport of being pulled on skis by a horse over a course full of jumps. The fastest trio wins.

Cook took a brief break from skijoring in 2020 instead of trying gelande — think high-stakes Nordic ski jumping — in Missoula. However, he soon realized that skijoring was not as dangerous as he thought. In his first gelande competition, Cook jumped 183 feet, but crashed, injuring his shoulder and knocking himself out.

“The very idea of ​​not wanting to skijor anymore because it was too dangerous went out the window after that,” Cook said.

Cook has returned to the adrenaline rush of skijoring this 2021-22 season and will compete in Big Sky Skijoring’s Best of the West competition on February 5-6 as part of Big Sky Winter Festival hosted by Outlaw Partners, publisher of Explore Big Sky.

Cook, now 32, grew up ski racing with his older brother in Missoula, though he said it eventually led to burnout.

“It took me five to six years to find the joy of skiing again,” admitted Cook.

Claudia Schmidt guides Cook through the 2019 Best of the West Skijoring competition at Big Sky. PHOTO BY SORCHA MATISSE

When not traveling to ski joëring competitions, Cook lives in Bozeman and is in the process of starting his own excavation business, Cook Civil Contracting.

Cook initially decided he wanted to try the fast sport of skijoring at age 25 after watching his brother take up the sport.

“I got wind of it and tried it,” Cook said “And that was it; the rest is history.

Since the beginning of his skijoring career, Cook has won two national titles: once in 2017 and another in 2019. He has participated, organized and helped design courses for numerous skijoring events across the country. When it comes to course design, Cook is always ready to step up.

“I usually give my opinion on each of [the courses]”, Cook said. “I place the gates and design the course where it’s needed.

Cook will help design the Big Sky course and has also been asked to design the ski joëring course in West Yellowstone for this season. According to Cook, the two main factors that go into building and designing a course are snow for the jumps and foot safety for the horse.

“It’s extremely important that the horses’ footing is as perfect as possible to ensure they are safe,” Cook said. “And that’s more important than the skier course.”

There’s never been a sport or anything in my life that I’ve watched that made my heart race like skijoring, ever. It gives me goosebumps, it completely fills my soul… I’m so proud to have been there from the start and to have brought it to Big Sky.

– Justa Adams, Big Sky Skijoring organizer

Cook helped organize the first Best of the West Skijoring event at Big Sky in 2018 with the passionate and determined help of Justa Adams; Richard Weber, one of Cook’s go-to runners; and ski joëring competitor, Tyler Smedsrud. In just four short weeks, the team miraculously organized the first Big Sky Skijoring event with tremendous help from the Big Sky community, including many donors and the Simkins family and Big Sky Town Events Manager Erik Morrison. Center, helping to find the right place in City Center.

“There’s never been a sport or anything in my life that I’ve watched that made my heart race like skijoring, ever,” Adams said. “It gives me goosebumps, it absolutely fills my soul…I’m so proud to have been here from the start and brought it to Big Sky.”

Big Sky Skijoring has continued to be a proven success in its skijoring events over the past few years, growing to 130 teams competing in the 2020 Best of the West competition, the nation’s second largest event that year. This year, $15,000 has been added to the winners pot which goes directly to contestants.

Cook skijors for the thrill. Pulled behind racehorses moving at 35-45 mph, it’s no wonder he returns to the speed and risk of skijoring.

But for Cook, it’s more than the thrill; it is the people.

“It’s so eye-opening for everyone, the outsiders, to see how tight-knit everyone is,” Cook said. “We will bend over backwards to make sure everyone is safe.”

Ultimately, the sport is about the skijoring family, he said.

Cook just wrapped up another successful skijoring event in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, raising over $19,000, and he’s ready to continue that success closer to home in Big Sky. Watch Cook battle it out in the heart of Big Sky in the Best of the West competition on February 5-6.

Visit outlaw.partners/winterfest for more information and to purchase tickets.

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