DANA STILES has been a competitor for over 20 years. She lives in Eagle, Colorado. Dana has captured numerous championship titles as a rider in races in Whitefish and Red Lodge, Montana; Jackson, Wyoming; and Minturn and Leadville, Colorado. Dana’s focus is on keeping skijoring safe for the horses involved and maintains that the horses which participate in the sport love to compete. Dana founded a Facebook page last year called The Silent Athletes of Skijoring. While Dana has ridden multiple horses over the years in competition, Merlin is the horse she is best known to ride to victory. Despite his advancing age, Dana is hoping to ride Merlin at least once in the upcoming RMX Skijoring competition on February 27 & 28, 2016.
WILL JAMES Having grown up on a ranch, Will James has worked with horses since the age of 4, and this continues to be his main pursuit in life. Will was introduced to skijoring through his uncles in Leadville and competed for a few years from the age of 11-13. Will got back into the sport about 10 years ago and is now a tough competitor winning races in Leadville, Minturn and Red Lodge on his horses Red and Tanner and pulling skier and fellow Coloradan Shawn Gerber and Pavel Trnka from the Czech Republic to victory.
JEFF DAHL This will be Jeff Dahl’s 22nd year skijoring. He made his first appearance in Leadville, Colorado where he resided at the time and caught the skijoring fever. Jeff has captured first place in nearly every skijoring venue throughout the years and many of these wins have been towing one of his two sons, Greg and Jason to victory. Greg and Jason have racked up even more first place finishes than their Dad. Jason started skiing behind Jeff at the age of 15 and now organizes the race in Leadville. Jeff now lives in Durango and helped to initiate the first skijoring race in Silverton with friend and fellow skijorer, Rob Conaty. Rob and Jeff first teamed up as skier and rider in 1998 in Frisco, Colorado. That year, they made the front page of the Denver Post. In Minturn, Jeff will once again be competing with his sons riding Red Lodge, Rocket & Rage.
SAVANNAH McCARTHY Skijoring is a family tradition for the McCarthy’s of Aztec, New Mexico, a high desert town only 20 miles from the Colorado border. Her parents, Tim and Andrea, have been skijoring for 20 years and introduced her to the sport. Savannah, who will be 16 in January, started riding horses as a babe strapped to her mother in a back pack. She has been riding horses for as long as she can remember and started skijoring in 6th grade. This will be her fourth season as a competitor. Savannah loves to ride and loves to ride fast. While she has participated in rodeo style events such as barrel racing, she prefers match racing on a track, pure and simple. This “pull out all stops” approach has led Savannah to victory in Leadville (three time Champion), Silverton and Minturn, Colorado where she captured both first and second places in the Open or Pro Class pulling Bruce Stott on skis. She rode two different horses, Tank and Shrek, and this year will be riding a new horse named Amazon. Tank is Savannah’s “go to” Open horse just as Bruce is her “go to” Open skier. She named Tank, an Appendix Quarter Horse, for his tendency to “push through anything” and for his short, wide, bulky build. He also holds a lot of gas in his “tank” which makes him a fast horse at full throttle. Even though she may miss some school during the skijoring season, Savannah maintains a high grade point average and has been on the Varsity volleyball team since her Sophomore year. Her favorite part of traveling is searching for the perfect Breakfast Burrito. She dislikes the hauling and mucking part, but says it is all worth it in the end when she knows the sweet taste of victory.
JESSLYN SWIRKA JJ started riding horses at the age of 8 and continues to make horses the focus of her life. She is the owner-operator of JBarJ Horses And Equine Services located in Fairplay, Colorado. JJ competes in roping, gymkhanas, barrel racing, ranch versatility and skijoring. She competes in barrel racing on 5 different horses and has won multiple saddles and buckles. She also ropes competitively with her husband. Although she brings multiple horses, her favorite skijoring horse is Logan who has placed in the money every time he has competed.