Why I… Skijor

Nutting and Cruz place third in the Canadian National Championship, February 2023.

Skijoring: The action of being pulled on skis by a horse, dog or a motor vehicle, over snow or ice, as a sport or recreation activity. 

“It made me love skiing again,” said Cambelle Nutting ‘24. “There were times when it would be discouraging to not do well, and then I would go out and ski with my dog, and I would think, ‘You know what? This is fun. I do love this.’ It was really healing for me when I would feel discouraged to go out with my dogs.” 

Nutting and their father skijor with Cruz and Toko, a father and son dog duo. The dogs are a mix of different breeds that were hand-picked in order to win races. 

Nutting said, “They are German short-haired pointers mixed with greyhound and husky, so they are specially bred for this sport. The German short-haired pointer is for endurance, the husky is for warmth, and the greyhound is for speed. So, our dogs are pretty powerful.” 

Cruz became famous within the niche sport and his genes were in high demand. When Cruz was requested for breeding, Nutting got to keep one of the puppies and ended up with Toko. 

When Nuttings father brought home Cruz and began competing, they helped their father train for years before their first competition. 

“Dad would train them, and I’d ask, ‘Can I try?’ And I’d do a short lap with my dogs. This was senior year of high school, so I was just doing it for fun, like hanging out with my dogs and my dad.” 

Nutting went to Montana State University for one semester before transferring to St. Michael’s College and joining the Nordic ski team. Nutting said that joining the team helped push them into better shape, ultimately improving their skijoring skills. 

Toko and Cruz at a skijor race in 2020.

Around the same time they joined the Nordic team, they went to Minnesota to compete in the national skijoring championship, which they won, Nutting said. 

Nutting’s success in skijoring reached international status. Nutting said, “Cruz and I are the national champion [U.S.] of skijoring, and my dad and Toko are runner-ups, and I’m third place in Canada, which was much more competitive than the United States. 

“It’s purely fun, sometimes during college races, when you’re out there by yourself, it can be hard. But when you’re with your dog, you’re never out there by yourself. You always have somebody who’s in it with you and I think that is what makes it so special, is he is in it with me.” 

After a successful career, the ride is coming to an end. Nutting said that at eight years old Cruz is slowing down. The duo is done with big competition races. 

This winter, Nutting will not compete in any competitive skijor event. 

Nutting said, “I’m still very involved and I love the time I get to spend with my dad,and I love the bond that I have with my dogs…obviously, everyone is close to their dog…But I feel like Cruz and Toko and I are on a whole other level because we fought together and won together…I just really love my dogs.”

Nutting and their dad at the Canadian National Championship, February 2023.
Nutting and their dad with their dogs Toko and Cruz at the Untied States National Championship, February 2023.