5 Thrilling Winter Events in Jackson Hole

Preparing to bomb down Snow King
Preparing to bomb down Snow King Paul
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From dressing up in costume and racing from skis to bike to river, or revving a snowmobile up an impossibly steep slope, our little Wyoming town knows how to host crazy events that are as fun to watch as they are to participate in. Whether you're on the sidelines or right in the heart of the action, these five thrilling winter events in Jackson Hole are sure to get your adrenaline pumping in the cold-weather months.

1. Skijoring; February


Though 2015's Skijoring event was canceled due unseasonably warm weather and dangerous track conditions, this event—which traditionally takes place during Jackson Hole's WinterFest in mid-February—draws in the crowds.

In this event, which usually takes place at Melody Ranch, skiers complete a series of jumps while hanging onto a rope towed behind a speeding horse. Cutter races, in which chariots race down the track, usually take place the weekend before the skijoring races and are also a great spectating adventure.

Funds raised benefit the Salt Lake City Shriner's Hospital for Children through the local JH Shriner's Club (which is still accepting donations to make up for lost revenue from this year's event).

2. Town Downhill “Mini Hahnenkamm” Ski Race; March 14-15, 2015


Snow King Resort has the steepest average slope of any ski resort in North America, making this down-home  hill the perfect location for the Town Downhill “Mini Hahnenkamm” race each March.

This classic event includes numerous race divisions, including pro, rec, telemark, junior, fat and baggy, and snowboard. Each year, more than 200 athletes compete for glory—and $5,000 in prizes. (To register as a competitor, visit the Jackson Hole Ski Club's website. Entry fees start at $45 and increase as of March 9.)

But you don't have to ski to enjoy this event. More than 500 spectators turn out each year to watch the action, as well as enjoy live music and food.

3. Pole, Pedal, Paddle; March 28, 2015


Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2015, this four-event race allows individuals and teams to race across the region, via the pursuits of alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, bicycling, and boating.

The first leg, alpine skiing, takes place at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Competitors ski a 3,500-foot giant slalom that is nearly three miles long. The first part of the bike leg follows, which includes a 1.3-mile race from the alpine leg to Shooting Star. Next, participants complete an 8-kilometer cross-country skiing race at Shooting Star's nordic course. The second section of the bike leg directly follows the nordic leg, and heads 18.5 miles along Teton Village Road and Highway 22 to the South Park Bridge. Once they reach the bridge, racers hop in their kayaks or other boats and paddle nine miles of Class 1 and 2 water along the Snake River, taking out at the bridge by the Snake River Sporting Club.

While there is a cash purse for racers, many compete in the “fun” category, decking themselves out in costumes for the race.

Looking for a teammate or gear? Post a note on the event's Facebook page.

4. World Championship Snowmobile Hill Climb; March 26-29, 2015


Just try not to hold your breath while watching snowmobile racers ride their machines up the steepest run on the steepest ski resort in North America, Snow King Resort, at the World Championship Snowmobile Hill Climb, organized (appropriately enough) by the Jackson Hole Snow Devils.

More than 10,000 fans come out for the four-day event, with 300 racers from [Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Hillclimb Association circuit](www.rmsha.com) competing. While amateurs aren't eligible to compete in the main event, they do have an amateur and masters class beforehand.

Such regulations are necessary, as not everyone makes it up the hill. Machines occasionally tumble down the slopes, some breaking into pieces on the way down. Volunteer crews chase them down, and there are nets in place to catch wayward machines before they tumble into the crowds below. Needless to say, it's almost as exciting to watch as it is to participate.

This year marks the event's 40th anniversary; since 2003, it has raised upwards of $260,000 for local charities and nonprofits. Tickets are $15 for a day or $30 for the weekend; for the best viewing, fork out an extra $12 for a chairlift ride.

And, even if you can't make it out to the hill, you can still [watch the event live.](www.sled2sled.com)

5. Wyoming Rando Roundup: Jackson Hole SkiMo Race (January)


Though this year's event has already taken place, it's worth it to put this ski-mountaineer spectacular on the calendar for next year if you missed it. The Wyoming Rando Roundup celebrates the burgeoning sport of skimo with a two-day event in the Jackson area.

On the first day, the Grand Targhee Ski Mountaineering Classic brings racers to Alta, Wyoming, for a competition; day two brings athletes to the Jackson Hole SkiMo Race at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The Jackson Hole event event features climbing a ladder up Corbet's Couloir (though racers don't have to ski off the infamous jump on the course). The route covers all sorts of terrain and keeps athletes (and spectators) coming back year after year.

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