Joering skiing is on the way

The yo-yo, who are skiers drawn by their dog (s), are becoming more common in new mountain resorts.

The Great Odyssey sled dog race, currently taking place in the Alps, is opened this year on ski joering.

This sport is less complicated to practice than a sleigh and is praised by women, protected by the presence of their dog during a sometimes solitary effort.

"It's a niche market," Vincent Berlandis tells. The boss of Nordic France, an association of 200 mid-mountain resorts that do not have the heart to joke, has a lot to do with the catastrophic snow of recent weeks and the development of the most promising activities. such as the fat bike (ATV with large tires hanging in the snow).

The joëring ski activity is not yet in the center of the commercial radars of the resorts that it unites. For the time being, keeping an eye on the downward curve of the flagship activity of cross-country skiing, which suffers from an image that is sometimes obsolete and prohibitive, especially for young people.

"I was bored on the track of funds"

Nathalie Dietrich has just left the world of the traditional fund to experience a great adventure with her dogs on skis. "I got bored on track by pushing my sticks very often, my dog ​​is different, I have fun, I have to pay more attention to skis and his presence protects me when I'm alone in the pines. is sitting ", says this Franc-Comtoise who has taken the lead of ski-joering Technical Direction to the Federation of Sled Sports, one of the three organizations that group this activity in France.

Courchevel is already world ski champion

They are still a few dozen to start working on dedicated tracks with one (or two) dogs, but their numbers are growing slowly but surely. "It is finally more sporting than with a sleigh and eight or ten dogs," explains Jacques Adam, who organizes a one-dog race at the beginning of February in Contamines (Haute-Savoie). Only behind his animal you always have to push hard and ski to sometimes reach incredible speeds: up to 50 km / h on the flat for the best. This presupposes a level of correct skiing, in a sport where the descents can be a bit acrobatic for the practitioner chained to a harness.

The dog jumps in the trunk of the car and hop hop we left

"And then we do not have to change ourselves in breeders or change the house into a kennel, complete Nathalie Dietrich, who emphasizes the practical side of the matter. The dog jumps in the trunk of the car next to the ski & # 39; s and we are off! In a hitch it is different: we need trucks, food reserves, mushers are almost farmers, in addition they sometimes have a bit rough ", laughs this ski joereuse (official name – Ed). "Some good dogs live in an apartment, that's not a problem provided they walk every day," adds Jacques Adam.

Giant of Courchevel: the Blue still far from the tops

As The Great Odyssey, the most important sled dog race in the Alps, "Is and remains centered on the big teams", Annabel Kam, her director, has chosen to complete the three-day course for ski-joeren. "It was a way to bring something new to our fifteenth edition, Joering is in the air, we had many requests in this direction," explains this young woman, who observes the enthusiasm of women on joering. Limited for this first year to ten participants, the board already has three female players. For the whole activity we are, according to Nathalie Dietrich, closer to 50% of women.

World championships organized in France

From Scandinavia, where it was practiced 2500 years ago, the joëring has a circuit of international competition that is largely dominated by the countries of the east (especially the Czech Republic) and the north. On 29 January, the snowland world championships will be organized for the first time in France, in Vanoise, with a ski joering event. A step further in France for this discipline that only waits for a sign from the communities to climb higher: the resorts that offer dedicated routes – the practice is prohibited on the ski slopes – are still too rare.

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The Grote Odyssee plays the middle distance

The random nature of the snow has driven the best mushers away from the Alps, the Great Odyssey, traditionally consisting of long distances of 70 to 80 km, was faced with a shortage of dedicated. For the fifteenth edition, race management has decided to accentuate the approach of recent years and is now on the ground of middle distance races, with thirty-kilometer stages. A success because registrations in all categories were closed within a few hours. The 44 traditional sledge teams are currently criss-crossing the Alps, with an expected arrival on Wednesday, January 23rd. The ten crew members will be present from Monday 21st for the last three stages.

Jean-François Fournel