I guess you could say we are passing down the Skijoring tradition to our eleven year old son, Dayne. I started Skijoring after my downhill ski racing career in college ended in 1997. I figure I competed in Skijoring for around 5 years and had some helluva pullers over the years... Dana Styles on Merlin, Marty Steffes on Nitro, Lane Hutchins on Cash, Ryan Lacovich on Steam, and Tom Finley and I can't remember his horse's name. I also can't recall all my placings over those years, but we had a good run with a lot of fun times and great memories.
Dad, Ty Free shares his story about his son........
Fast forward to this year and our friends, the Woodring family from Bozeman, asked Dayne to hop in the youth classes for a pull from their daughters. Dayne has been ski racing on the Bridger Ski Team for three years now and we felt he could do well in skijoring, so we went along with the Woodrings to the Big Sky Skijoring competition. Dayne entered the Youth division and Novice and had he not dropped the rope before the finish on his very first novice run they could have finished in second place. He ended up winning the youth division by a long shot in Big Sky and he won his first buckle and was instantly hooked.
After Big Sky, Dayne was excited to go at it again and I started thinking about trying it out again, knowing I'm now long past my prime. We knew Red Lodge would be up next and it didn't conflict with any ski races, so I got our friend, Jess Woodring, to agree to pull myself and her six year old daughter, Josie, to pull Dayne. As always, Red Lodge was a blast and Dayne and Josie came out with the win and I didn't quite hit the placings position, but I felt good and have the confidence to get back out there next year behind a fast horse and do some Sport or, possibly, go for some Open runs.
What's really neat, is my thirteen year old daughter, Dylanne, has a couple horses, is an excellent rider and we are now looking into getting her into pulling her brother next year. Be on the lookout for Team Free.
Black & White photo of Dayne - Credit: Amy Lynn Nelson
Photos of Ty skijoring - Credit: Dan Freeland
Other photos - Credit: Amy Free
2002 National Ski Joring Poster Photo - Ty Free archive ;)