Blackfoot Valley Dispatch - The Blackfoot Valley's News Source Since 1980

By Roger Dey

Skijor Lincoln cancelled


January 8, 2020

Roger Dey

A horse and skier leaves the gate at 2019's Skijor Lincoln

The heavy snowfall in the last couple of days came too late to save the 4th Annual Skijor Lincoln.

Late last week, faced with minimal snowpack, icy conditions, an uncertain forecast and a deadline to make the call, the Lincoln Valley Chamber of Commerce decided to scrap the event that had been scheduled for Jan. 18 and 19.

"Even though it's snowing, the ground underneath is solid ice," LVCC President Laurie Richards said Monday. "The day we made the decision, the forecast said we weren't getting snow. We are very sad to have to do it."

Last year snow was also a concern, but organizers were able made a concerted effort to build a track, hauling large piles of snow plowed up from an earlier snowstorm out to the race site at the Cyr pasture west of Lincoln. This year had a critical difference. The snowstorm that struck the area late last week was accompanied by wind and freezing rain, which made the snow available at the time they made the decision mostly unusable.

"All the piles around town were ice chunks," Richard said.

The storm also left the Cyr pasture with all the ditches and low spots full of water and covered with a layer of ice, creating conditions that made building a safe track unworkable.

"This year we have such a thick base of ice, it's just not worth jeopardizing the safety of the horses, competitors or the people who come to watch," Richards said. "The bottom line is safety."

Skijor Lincoln isn't the only event to suffer from the deficiency of snow in Western Montana this winter. In the Flathead Valley, a skijoring event that had been scheduled for Dec. 28 and 29 at Rebecca Farms was also called off due to the lack of snow. Locally, it has also taken a toll on the snowmobiling season and forced the Ponderosa Snow Warriors to cancel their Jan. 4 Fun Run.

"Unfortunately, we're totally dependent, no matter what season it is, on the weather," Richards said.

Aside from the weather, this year's Skijor Lincoln also faced an unexpected challenge in securing sponsorships. Richards said they began soliciting sponsorships from businesses in Helena, Missoula and Great Falls as early as last summer, but hadn't seen any come in. Local businesses were more forthcoming, and she believes other businesses that would have sponsored the race were taking a wait and see approach, given the questionable weather.

Although there was a question of possibly postponing Skijor Lincoln until a later date, the LVCC chose not to do so, since the proposed weekend conflicted with Race to the Sky in February.

With Skijor Lincoln on its way to becoming a staple winter event for Lincoln, Richards doesn't expect this to be the end for it.

"It's good for the community and for the people who come up to watch," she said. "Stay tuned for 2021 and pray for snow without ice." The Blackfoot


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