RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Skijoring may not be a sport you've heard of but it is indeed a sport, a kind of cross-country skiing but pulled by a horse, a dog or a snowmobile. Skijoring had its moment of glory back in 1928 as a demonstration sport at the Winter Olympics. That was the last time the sport was celebrated on the world stage. Now, skijoring enthusiasts are trying to bring it back. New Hampshire Public Radio's Emily Corwin has more.
EMILY CORWIN, BYLINE: Fifty-two-year-old Terri Moitozo kicks her boots into her downhill skis. Odd thing is she's 30 miles from any mountain.
TERRI MOITOZO: Combining two things I love, skiing and horses. I'm excited. I'm excited.
CORWIN: Moitozo doesn't need gravity to fly across the snow. That's what her horse, Friday, is for and her buddy Nick Barishian, who's riding Friday.
MOITOZO: Yeah, he's my horse husband. My regular husband doesn't do the horse stuff so you got to hire out.
CORWIN: Here in Rochester, New Hampshire, Moitozo and others are learning equestrian skijoring. Other kinds of skijoring involve skiers pulled by sled dogs, poodles, even motorcycles. It looks like waterskiing on snow. Only with equestrian skijoring, there are obstacles.
GEOFF SMITH: I'm the president of Northeast Skijoring Association. OK. Who else needs a harness?
CORWIN: Geoff Smith is a competitive skijorer. He travels to sanctioned races from Montana to Quebec to New Hampshire. Smith's wife rides the horse that pulls him 40 miles an hour over jumps eight feet high. They race for time.
SMITH: And then every ring you drop or you don't carry across the finish line, they add two seconds to your raw score, and every gate that you miss or jump you don't take, it's five seconds added to your score.
CORWIN: Before Terri Moitozo can try this thing out in the snow, she and 10 or so other newbies gather around Smith for instruction. In a chilly barn, horse and rider trot around Smith who issues instructions.
SMITH: Another good safety tip is not to let the rope get under the horse's tail.
CORWIN: Duly warned, Moitozo and Friday head outside.
MOITOZO: All right, Friday, my friend.
NICK BARISHIAN: Are you ready, Terry?
MOITOZO: I'm ready.
BARISHIAN: All right. Go, go, go.
CORWIN: Friday gallops ahead, pulling Moitozo along by a rope.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
CORWIN: They fly over three ski jumps...
MOITOZO: Before I lose it.
CORWIN: ...past six rings she reaches out to grab...
CORWIN: ...to the finish line.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
CORWIN: How'd it go?
MOITOZO: Awesome. That is just fun. It's waterskiing on snow. It's the best. Oh, my God. That's awesome.
CORWIN: Not surprisingly, Terri Moitozo and Friday have already signed up for their first sanctioned skijoring race. And Moitozo says she's recruiting her friends. So Geoff Smith's efforts to grow this unusual sport may be gaining momentum after all. For NPR News, I'm Emily Corwin in New Hampshire.
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MARTIN: This is NPR News.
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