Ski Joring “Modern Era”
a brief history
by Tony Fox (Dec. 12, 2015)
Disclaimer: The following is my personal recollection of past events, some dating over 25 years ago. Using old notebooks and meeting minutes I’ve collected over the years, I’ve done my best to capture the events that took place so long ago and the people who had a hand in its history. I cannot guarantee that I’ve not missed an important person or event, nor can I claim with all certainty that I’ve completely captured the essence or facts that took place. I can only recount what I vividly remember and from the documents I still have in my possession from that exciting period in ski joring history.
First, a look back:
1949 – Two close friends sat in a booth at the Golden Burro Café in Leadville Colorado discussing the upcoming winter festivities during the annual Crystal Carnival festival. The year was 1949, and the task at hand was to come up with something new for the carnival. Over several cups of coffee and pie, the two decided to take a trip to the Steamboat Springs winter carnival to see if they could glean any new ideas. While in Steamboat, Tom Schroeder and "Mugs" Ossman first witnessed the sport of Ski Joring, a horse-and-rider pulling a skier. Tom and Mugs were impressed by the prospect of ski joring, however, they couldn’t understand why anyone would want to go that slow! Mugs raised Quarter Horses for speed, and Tom, being the feisty Irishman skier he was, knew that there was not a horse alive fast enough to "lose" him on a pair of skis. They went out to the Ossman Ranch just north of town and tried ski joring for the first time. The snow in the pasture was deep, but the sport of Ski Joring was born and continues to this day.
Mid 1950’s – Jody Manly begins to compete in ski joring competitions in and around Leadville. Ski joring races are being held in the downtown streets of Leadville at this time.
1970’s – Ski joring in Leadville is moved from the downtown streets to the back streets (Poplar Blvd.)
Late 1980’s – Ski joring in Leadville ceases to exist because competitors and spectators started to lose interest. It was said that many folks didn’t like that the same “few” skiers and riders were always winning the money. That, combined with the fact that the races were moved out of town, led to an overall decrease in the event’s popularity. At this time, the only ski joring race occurring in North America was the Red Lodge race, also known as the National Final’s.
*Footnote – it should be pointed out that in the late 80’s and early 90’s, two competitors from Colorado, Jerry Kissell from Leadville and Kenny Hilton from Granby, went to Red Lodge and completely transformed the level of competition at this race. Prior to their arrival, finishing times at the Red Lodge race were in the 25 second range. On the exact same course in their first year, Jerry and Ken finished 1st and 2nd overall respectively with times in the 17 second range, and completely blew the minds of everyone in Red Lodge. Ken also established the longest ever recorded long jump contest distance by over 10 feet further than the previous record, and he went on to win the long jump contest for something like 12 consecutive years from that first year! Red Lodge renamed the Long Jump trophy after him for this incredible feat! Credit must also be paid two the riders who towed these two gentleman to such incredible times. Tim Hockhalter from Montana and Kim Sheets from Cody, Wyoming were incredibly brave to steer their horses around the tight turns of the round track format and were really two of the pioneers that helped shape the great action in Red Lodge.
Beginning of the Modern Era:
1993 – Tony Fox arrived in Leadville after graduating college and learns about the magical “Leadville Crystal Carnival” and the infamous 1896 Leadville Ice Palace. Tony is instructed by his employer, St. Vincent General Hospital, to position the hospital more visibly in the community. Tony wanted to bring back some of the old, long-lost Leadville traditions, and while researching the Leadville Ice Palace, he stumbled on some old ski joring photos and was immediately captivated. A hospital colleague, Betsy Baier, told Tony to see Paul Copper about ski joring, since Paul was the “Leadville Ski Joring guru”. Paul instructed Tony on all of the ins and outs of the sport and gave him a general heading for next steps, including getting Jody Manly involved, as Jody was the expert course builder from back in the day. Tony asked Paul how hard would it be to bring ski joring back to Main Street, and Paul said “just shy of impossible, but it’s worth asking about!” Ty Hall, an employee of Paul’s along with Tony, attended a County Council meeting at Town Hall, and were nearly laughed out of the building when they asked about getting approval to close Main Street. The Mayor and the Councilors told Ty and Tony, “If you can get all of the businesses on Main Street to agree to close it down three days, then we’ll talk.” The following day, Ty and Tony walked up and down Main Street and spoke to all 44 businesses that would be affected by a road closure. To everyone’s surprise, all but two businesses supported the closure of Main Street. The Mayor and the Councilors, surprised by this strong show of support, agreed to close the avenue and fund the cost to have both City and County road crews bring in snow. Scott Marcella from the Leadville City Road Crews deserves a lot of credit for agreeing to this action, since it was he and his crew that spent all winter clearing the avenue of snow, and were now being asked to bring 250 dump truck loads back onto the avenue! Had he said “no” back in fall of 1993, it’s very possible that ski joring would’ve never come back to Main Street, and the rest of this story would be moot. The infamous Leadville Crystal Carnival was now officially revived, with Ski Joring as the feature event! The first weekend of March, 1994 was the date selected, and would become a very important date in the history of Modern-day ski joring!
1994 – Leadville closes Main Street, brings in 250 dump truck loads of snow, and College Mountain College volunteered to drive their snow cats down to the avenue to groom the track. Jody Manly built his first track in years and Paul Copper called up all of the old competitors and organized the race (which he continues to do to this day!) It cannot be overstated what both Paul and Jody mean to both the history of Ski Joring and the Leadville ski joring race. The 1994 race in Leadville was the first ski joring event back on Main Street in over 30 years. Thousands of spectators came to Leadville that first year, and it’s been held on Main Street continuously since that time – 21 years straight. This event would set in motion a chain of events that would bring ski joring out of the dark ages and into the light of the public eye once and for all. It’s important to note for the record book that Skier Ty Hall and rider Bobby Hockett won this first race.
1995 – Buoyed by the success of 1994’s first annual Crystal Carnival revival, the race expanded to two days (both Saturday and Sunday), and included many more of the competitors who used to compete. Skiers like Jerry Kissell, Ken Hilton, Brad Heil, Mike Meindle, Eddie Kerrigan, Rob Conaty and Mike Tinkle showed up and really added a competitive element to this second race. The horse and rider stock was excellent that second year also, with the re-arrival of the Hill family from Kremmling. Tommy and Mark Hill used to dominate the sport back in the 80’s and were known to have a plentiful stock of very fast and competitive horses and riders. Riders Erica Dube and Jeff Dahl from Leadville also started their ski joring careers that year and both continue to compete in the Open Division to this day. That second year, it was one of the young Hill boys pulling skier Tony Fox to victory down main street.
1996 – With ski joring now regaining popularity and with the word spreading around the West thatLeadville was back on Main Street, other small towns throughout the West wanted to get in on this incredible sport. In February of this year, Kremmling decided to revive its ski joring competition. Now there were three ski joring races annually: Kremmling, Leadville, and Red Lodge. Skiers Kevin Sisti and Howard Mallette would join the growing ski joring family this year. This was also the heyday for Red Lodge, which drew well over 100 competitors from dozens of states around the US. The purse at this race reached a staggering $25,000 and credit should go to Tami Stevens, longtime race director at Red Lodge and the National Finals Ski Joring Races held at the end of the season every year.
1997 – Vail Valley joined the list of communities that embraced the sport and held a race in the center of Avon, a little community just west of Vail – now there were four races on the circuit. This race drew the interest of several key riders who would certainly change to face of ski joring for a long time to come. Dana Stiles and her horse Beau came to Vail, along with Dan Eckert, a wrangler and head manager of the 4-Eagle ranch. A young 13 year old rider named Candace Calvin from Vail also started her ski joring career that year. Each of these prolific riders would make their own mark and leave a lasting legacy in this sport. The Red Lodge race continued its dominance as the largest race, both in competitors and in purse money.
1998 – The number of races jumped from four to eight in just one year! New races included Aspen during the halftime of their very large and prestigious snow polo match. The race in Avon was moved out to 4-Eagle Ranch and run by Dan Eckert and his crew that year. Jackson Hole, Wyoming also came on line, as did Cody, Wyoming and Bozeman, Montana. Sadly, the race in Kremmling was cancelled, but suddenly there were eight races, all loosely connected to one another by competitors only. At the time, there was no overarching organization to represent the sport of ski joring, and that’s when the idea for NASJA was hatched. On the weekend of the Aspen race, Kevin Sisti, Jody Manly, and Tony Fox waited for hours during the polo match before the ski joring race was allowed to commence. These three gentlemen observed the opulence and sheer number of people who sat quietly and watched what in their opinion, was a pretty boring event. When it came time for the ski joring race to occur, the spectators, who were previously eating their caviar and sipping their champagne, leapt to their feet in amazement and began to cheer the ski joring racers on. After the ski joring race had completed and the polo match resumed, many of the spectators made a point to share with the ski joring folks just how impressed they were with the sport. On this long afternoon, Kevin, Jody, and Tony hatched the idea to create the North American Ski Joring Association (NASJA), which would serve to promote safety, equality, and sportsmanship for the sport, and to bring all of the existing races together into a circuit where skiers and riders (and eventually horses) could earn points toward a National Championship.
1999 – with the addition of the Frisco, Colorado race in mid-January (co-directed by Kevin Sisti and Tony Fox), there are now nine races on the circuit – a race on nearly every weekend from mid-January through the second weekend of March! This is significant because just six years earlier, there was only one race (Red Lodge) occurring in all of North America for almost a decade prior to Leadville! The revival of the Leadville race seemed to be the catalyst that spurred other races into being. It was at the last race of the season in 1999 at Red Lodge, that Kevin Sisti and Tony Fox held an informal meeting of all interested race organizers and competitors about the idea of NASJA. In the year prior, Kevin and Tony spent countless hours devising a draft organizational structure for NASJA that would be the starting point for discussion at the meeting in Red Lodge. Most of the attendees were encouraged by the concept and there was general agreement that NASJA should be further developed. Kevin and Tony proceeded to organize the first official organizational meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on April 24th of that same year. On that date, representatives from almost all of the existing ski joring races in the Western US attended the Jackson Hole meeting – a full weekend meeting hosted by the Jackson Hole ski joring committee. Attendees at this meeting included the following:
1. Tony Fox (representing NASJA and Frisco, CO race)
2. Kevin Sisti (representing NASJA and Frisco, Co race)
3. Jody Manly (Leadville)
4. Dave Schilz (Red Lodge)
5. Bill Lukowitz (Jackson Hole)
6. Rick Grant (Jackson Hole)
7. Heather Hawkins (Jackson Hole)
8. Sue Mason (Jackson Hole)
9. Sean Mullaney (Bozeman, MT)
10. Joel Boehnke (Bozeman, MT)
11. Terry Dolan (Cody, WY)
12. There was no official representative from 4-Eagle at this meeting, but Tony, Kevin, and Jody represented their interests.
After an exhausting two day of meetings, the group adopted a set of by-laws and created a chartered non-profit organization known thereafter as NASJA. The group elected Tony Fox to serve as the first board chair, with Dave Schilz as Chair-elect. Tony called for a follow-up meeting later that October in Thermopolis, WY to continue the discussion and to develop the criteria that we now continue to use to this day. The meeting in Thermopolis included the same attendees at the Jackson meeting (more or less), and the organization was ready to enter into the 2000 ski joring season as a full-fledged organization. It was decided that the first year would be unofficial, meaning none of the races would actually be sanctioned, nor would there be an overall championship award for skiers and riders so as to work out any and all bugs in the organization.As a result of a now very robust circuit of races, 1999 also represents a time when two very formidable regional traveling teams were formed. The Jackson Hole traveling team consisted of rider Lane Hutchings and skiers Aaron Cisco and Pete Karns. The Rocky Mountain Ski Joring traveling team consisted of folks entirely from Colorado including riders Dana Stiles, Erica Dube, Lynn Knarcik, Tami Richardson and Jeff Dahl with skiers Tony Fox, Jason Dahl, Howard Mallette, Bruce Stott and Kevin Sisti. Between these two traveling teams, a bulk of the prize money was divided up throughout the circuit for several years, with the exception of the Red Lodge race, where every year it was up for grabs with so many entrants.
2000 – NASJA’s first year! Durango, Colorado started their first race that year bringing the total number of races on the circuit to a total of ten. Points were kept at each of the participating races on the circuit (unofficially), and an attempt to integrate all of the existing races into the organization was made. It was difficult at first for some of the races to abide by all of the sanctioning criteria, specifically as it related to track layout and design, and safety. Many tracks were not particularly keen on providing fencing along the track to keep spectators away from the action, and it was somewhat challenging trying to create criteria that could be utilized by both the straight and circle track formats. There were many debates over the years about which track – straight vs. circle - was better, safer, and more fun for the spectators and athletes. In the end, it was determined that each was unique and offered different challenges for the athletes and a different viewing experience for the spectators. It was also important for NASJA to recognize and acknowledge the history of both tracks. By the end of the 2000 season, the NASJA board deemed it a success and began preparing for its first official year with all existing races being sanctioned and an overall National Champion being awarded at the conclusion of the circuit at Red Lodge. At a meeting in Cody, Wyoming, the NASJA board of directors voted to accept Clay Going from Montana and Kitty LeDonne from Denver, Colorado as board members (Kitty was named Secretary of the board upon her arrival). Skier Mike Fries from Minnesota competed in his first ski joring race and has since gone on to become a powerhouse in the Open Division to this day. Rider Tim McCarthy joined the ski joring family around this time (or before, not certain) and the McCarthy Family has also become a powerhouse in the ski joring world. Skier Cody Smith from Spokane, Washington lived for a while in Jackson Hole and teamed up with the Jackson Team, along with rider Ryan Lackovich. Rider Terry Dolan from Wapiti, Wyoming and so many other great riders from up north also dominated the ski joring landscape.
2001 – Many consider this the pinnacle of the modern era for ski joring, and what a year it was! NASJA was now fully sanctioning races on the circuit, more teams than ever were traveling hundreds of miles every weekend to races across the Western US, and the competition was very intense. Spectators were witnessing the fastest teams from across the country and they loved it. Country and pop singer, Michael Martin Murphy became NASJA’s spokesperson, and he even filmed a promotional video and commercialfor NASJA. After a 3-year run, 2001 would mark the last year for racing in Frisco. By the end of the 2001 season, NASJA was able to award the first ever National Championship Trophy’s to the overall best skier, rider, and horse in the Open Division. Skier Jason Dahl, rider Tami Richardson, and horse Red Lodge (yes, that’s the name of the horse, owned by Jeff Dahl) were the first ever National Champions in a very close race with rider Ryan Lackovich and skier Cody Smith, who took second place overall. The award ceremony was held immediately following the Red Lodge race. Important fact: since NASJA was still very new and didn’t have money to pay for trophy jackets, board member Clay Going donated $2,000 of his personal money to pay for the awards. Pete Karns and Erica Pitts from Wyoming, and Erica Dube from Colorado joined the NASJA board this year. After several painstaking years of working to get NASJA off the ground, Tony Fox stepped aside as Chair of the NASJA board and handed the reigns and the gavel over to Dave Schilz. Tony’s tenure, while very productive, was challenging. NASJA made some key strides, but some mistakes were made in the early years and egos were bruised. The pre-NASJA race organizations sometimes resisted the reforms that NASJA tried to institute – for good reasons - and NASJA was too young and not always in the best position to be flexing its muscles. In hindsight, the early board members would’ve liked to have handled the situation differently, but those good people were literally flying the plane while they were building it. In times of progress, there will be casualties, and this has held true for NASJA and its board members since the very beginning.
2002 – Under the leadership of new board Chair, Dave Schilz, NASJA continues adding new races to the ski joring circuit – races that would welcome the support NASJA was able to provide. The “Technical Delegate” program, which consisted of experienced NASJA representatives showing new races how to successfully get a race off the ground, while also providing track building, equipment, and judging proved to be one of NASJA’s greatest assets. These services proved very useful to races in Cascade and Sun Valley, Idaho when TD’s Dave Schilz and Rick Grant traveled there to help Kurtis Stutz and Jeff Schroeder get their races off the ground. Both Kurtis and Jeff would join the NASJA board later that year. Jud Miller from Colorado, Mary Kneeland from Wyoming, Rusty Bennett and Penny Casey from Idaho also joined the NASJA board. Longtime NASJA treasurer Tristi Oberhue stepped down from the board and Penny took over as Treasurer. Tony Fox led a concerted effort to try and secure corporate sponsors for NASJA and the ski joring circuit, and NASJA representatives flew with Tony to Salt Lake City to sign a contract with a national fundraising consultant, Nike B. Whitcomb and Associates. Interesting note: the Durango race venue changed from the Iron Horse Inn out to Buffalo Gap at Lake Vallecito, where it remained for four years (in 2005 the race was ultimately cancelled).
2003 – This was a challenging year for NASJA. Due to some concerns with the sanctioning criteria, the Cody, Leadville, and Red Lodge races all opted out of sanctioning. NASJA acknowledged these races and promoted their dates, but no points were awarded to competitors at those races. Races at Four-Eagle in Colorado and Bozeman, Montana were cancelled altogether. This resulted in an early season ending for the overall National Championship, which was held at the Sun Valley race in February.The addition of two new races to the circuit helped ease the sting of losing several sanctioned venues and two races altogether, including the addition of the Whitefish race in Montana and a third race was added to the growing number of venues in Idaho at McCall. TD’s Dave Schilz and Rick Grant traveled to Whitefish to assist Scott Ping in reviving the winter carnival activities there, and this race continues to be one of the top races on the circuit to this day. Lane Hutchings from Wyoming and Dana Stiles of Colorado were added to the board of directors and Treasurer Penny Casey resigned her duties. Linda Grant took over as Treasurer. The contract with Nike B. Whitcomb and Associates was cancelled as a result of their inability to procure any substantive sponsors for NASJA.
2004 – Another challenging year for NASJA and the circuit as a whole, as four races cancelled their events altogether. Cascade and McCall, Idaho, and Jackson Hole and Cody, Wyoming called it quits due to issues with their locations and other such problems. As a result of this fairly tumultuous year, board Chair Dave Schilz stepped down at the end of the racing season and turned the gavel over to Rick Grant from Wyoming. Kurtis Stutz agreed to serve as Chair elect. Kitty LeDonne resigned from the board and Linda Grant assumed the dual role as both Treasurer and Secretary. There were now just five races on the circuit: Durango, Hailey (Sun Valley) ID, Whitefish, Leadville, and Red Lodge. There were discussions by members of the NASJA board with representatives from Heber City and Park City, Utah about hosting races there (to take advantage of the former US Olympic Games venues) but those talks eventually ceased.
2005 – The ski joring circuit held steady with the same five races as 2004, but the traveling teams began traveling less and folks who lived in the Idaho, Wyoming, or Montana region now dominated the overall point series. With potentially no signs of growth anywhere in the Rocky Mtn. West, it appeared as though ski joring and NASJA had hit a wall. Then Brooke and Geoff Smith from New Hampshire attended a NASJA board meeting in Jackson in the spring of 2005, ushering in a new era for NASJA. Brooke and Geoff both left Jackson with a new mission – to bring ski joring out East – and they succeeded. Beginning in 2006, new races would start forming in New England. There was still hope for NASJA and ski joring yet!
2006 – With ski joring enthusiasm and activity slowly on the decline in the West, the action was starting to get hot – really hot - out East! Brooke and Geoff formed the New England Ski Joring Association (NESJA), and together with NASJA, started two races in 2006. With the help of Dave Shilz as a NASJA technical delegate, New Hampshire held their first ever ski joring races, and NESJA was off to the races. While racing continued out West in Whitefish, Leadville, and Red Lodge, the center of gravity in the ski joring world seemed to tilt significantly out East. At the end of the 2006 season, Brooke and Geoff took over the leadership of NASJA and Geoff succeeded Rick Grant as the new Chair of the NASJA Board. Brooke took over the Treasurer and Secretary duties. The Smiths were now running both the NASJA and NESJA boards, and would continue to do so for the next six consecutive years!
2007 – The East continues its reign as the hot spot for ski joring growth and activity. For the first time ever, NASJA/NESJA held a sanctioned ski joring race internationally in Montreal, Canada at their famous winter carnival. Meanwhile, out West, in spite of the absence of a real ski joring circuit, the races in Whitefish and Leadville continued to thrive. Red Lodge, once hosting over 120 teams back in the 90’s, was down to less than 40 teams annually but still maintained their title as the longest “continually running” race in the Country.
2008 – 2010 – Aside from ski joring races in Whitefish, Leadville, and Red Lodge – which continued to thrive due to their long-standing tradition, great race management, and iconic status - no new races were started in the West. Several races were being held in New England, and most of the sanctioning by NASJA was focused on the races out East, due to the Smiths management of both NASJA and NESJA and their proximity to those venues. For NASJA, the organization seemed to be on autopilot with the Smiths at the helm. Western board members had very little interaction or say on the matters happening out East, which at the time was actually a very efficient system. The only race out West that sought to remain NASJA sanctioned was Whitefish due to Scott Ping’s enthusiasm for NASJA and ski joring, and Scott ultimately joined the NASJA board and joined Dave Schilz an Tony Fox, now the only remainingboard members.
2011 – This was the start of a shift in focus back to the West for ski joring and NASJA. After a fairly long hiatus of new races forming out West, Colorado finely saw two new races form; Silverton and Minturn. Over time, these races would grow to become very popular and the Silverton race would spur a movement in 2015 that is poised to re-shape the ski joring once again. Both races saw the Leadville model as a good fit for their communities and they both located their venues in their downtowns, on or near the main thoroughfare. Meanwhile, the action out East started to cool as fewer and fewer races were being held and the Smith’s were beginning to tire of the non-stop race planning and management of both NASJA and NESJA. The momentum swing from the East back to the West was evident and it was only a matter of time before the full shift was complete.
2012 – With activity and momentum continuing to mount out West, the Smiths decided it was time for the management of NASJA to return home to its roots, so Geoff stepped down as Chair and Scott Ping assumed the duty, and has remained Chair of the Board ever since. With five strong races out West, and just one race in New England and the Montreal race now being run by the Canadians, this is pretty much how the ski joring landscape would look for the next couple of years.
2013/2014 - Loren Zhimanskova would start her ski joring marketing company, Skijor International.
2015 – FASTFORWARD Media would travel the ski joring circuit and film several of the races, capturing the essence of the sport and the people who make it so fascinating to watch. The film "Ice Cowboys" premiered on Altitude TV in October of that year. Altitude was impressed and added the film to their secondary channel as well as 5 times the airings that were initially discussed. Through the experience of making the film, Matt Crossett and Laurie Sigillito owners of FFM realized they could help provide the missing media/marketing piece of the puzzle to help continue the growth of Western, Style Equine Skijoring. They formed Skijor America, and with the help of Scott Ping and Loren Zhimanskova they began to form the base of the organization. Shortly thereafter they merged with NASJA and formed a complete board full of new and old competitors alike. They continue to carry out the original mission of NASJA while seeking to grow the sport for the next generation of Skijor Competitors.
Key People in NASJA and Ski Joring History (Alphabetically by last name):
- Joel Boehnke – Founding NASJA board member, Former Bozeman Montana race director
- Whitni Ciofalo – Founding board member, Skijor America, Current Bozeman Montana race director
- Paul Copper – widely known as the “face and voice” of Leadville Ski Joring – Paul is the reason the Leadville race has become the “Granddaddy of Them All” and has been the race director there for as long as anyone can remember. He was also a former ski joring racer – both skier and rider – and has been known to still strap on the skis from time to time to compete in the Legends Division in Leadville
- Matt Crossett – Founder, FastForward Media, Inc. and creator of “Ice Cowboys” movie. Co-founder of Skijor America.
- Terry Dolan – Founding NASJA board member, Cody Wyoming race committee and longtime rider in the Open Division. Has many championship buckles to his credit
- Erica Dube – Former NASJA board member, very accomplished Open Division rider on the circuit for many years, member of the Rocky Mtn. Traveling Race Team
- Tony Fox – Co-founder and first board Chair of NASJA. Played a significant role in reviving the Leadville race in 1994 after a five-year hiatus and brought the race back to MainStreet. Very accomplished Open Division skier, still competes in the Legends Division in Leadville. Co-race director for the Frisco, Colorado race
- Heather Hawkins – Founding NASJA board member, Jackson Hole race committee
- Brooke Howell – Founding board member, Skijor America
- Lane Hutchings – Former NASJA board member, very accomplished Open Division rider, Captain of the Jackson Hole Traveling Race Team
- Clay Going – Former NASJA board member and man responsible for putting up $2,000 of his own money to pay the purse for the 1st ever National Championship awards
- Linda Grant – Former NASJA board member, Treasurer and Secretary
- Rick Grant – Founding NASJA board member, board Chair (2004-2006)
- Pete Karns – Former NASJA board member, accomplished skier in the Open Division, member of the Jackson Hole Traveling Race Team
- RJ Klotz – Founding board member, Skijor America
- Kitty LeDonne – Former NASJA board member, Secretary
- Bill Lukowicz – Founding NASJA board member, Jackson Hole race director
- Sue Mason – Jackson Hole race committee, attended 1st official NASJA meeting
- Jody Manly – Widely considered the oldest living ski joring course builder, competitor, and race director in the world. Also known as the “Godfather of Ski Joring”, from Leadville, Colorado, still builds the Leadville ski joring race course to this day in his 80’s
- Tim McCarthy – Founding board member, Skijor America, and very accomplished Open Division rider
- Rick McGee – Former NASJA board member and Red Lodge race committee member
- Judson Miller – Former NASJA board member and accomplished skier
- Shawn Mullaney – Founding NASJA board member, Bozeman Montana race director
- Tristi Oberhue – Founding NASJA board member, Cody Wyoming race committee
- Scott Ping – Current NASJA board chair and race director for the Whitefish, Montana event. Founding board member, Skijor America. Also a very accomplished Open Division rider
- Dave Schilz – Founding NASJA board member, board Chair (2001-2004)
- Jeff Schroeder – Former NASJA board member, co-director of Idaho ski joring races
- Laurie Sigillito - Founder, FastForward Media, Inc. and creator of “Ice Cowboys” movie. Co-founder of Skijor America
- Kevin Sisti – NASJA co-founder and accomplished Open Division skier. Co-race director of the Frisco, Colorado race
- Brooke Smith – Current NASJA board member and treasurer, co-founder of NESJA
- Geoff Smith – Current NASJA board member, past board Chair (2006-2012), founder of New England Ski Joring Association (NESJA), and accomplished skier
- Tami Stevens – Longtime race director for Red Lodge
- Dana Stiles –Founding NASJA board member and one of the most accomplished Open Division riders in ski joring history
- Bruce Stott – Founding board member, Skijor America, and very accomplished Open Division skier and extreme sports athlete
- Kurtis Stutz – Former NASJA board member, Idaho Ski Joring race director – 4 separate events
- Loren Zhimanskova – Founder of Skijor International, Founding Board Member Skijor America