Heard of Snowkiting?


By Martel Reid-Warden

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Enjoy snowboarding, skiing, and kiteboarding? Snowkiting may just be your next calling. This exhilarating new winter sport has become a new staple among adrenaline junkies in that it combines elements of each of these other three popular extreme sports.

Snowkiting can be considered a cold-weather option for the numerous examples of “kiting” activities, from kite-buggying to stand-up-paddleboard-kiting.

Zebulon Jakub, a certified and experienced snowkite instructor with over 18 years of experience, describes his chosen athletic activity to BTR as “a unique sport; combining a physical movement, precise coordination with the mind and body.”

He continues that snowkiting entails a “deep understanding of using a tool to create a whole new angle to ski and board sports.”

Snowkiting combines elements of traditional ski and board sports through the common denominator of equipment; snowkiters use a board or skis to maneuver across a surface covered in ice or snow.

Your next snowboarding or skiing trip could provide the perfect opportunity to test your snowkiting skills because it can be practiced within the identical environmental conditions found at existing winter-sports facilities.

The vast array of terrains that a snowkiting session can take place at provides ample opportunities for snowkiters across the globe to step out to their local snow covered park or frozen lake. For individuals who reside on US shores seeking an affordable snowkiting experience, trips inland to places such as Utah’s Skyline and Montana’s Big Hole Valley provide alternatives to costly excursions to exotic winter surroundings abroad.

The minimal amount of wind required to maneuver a board or skis across snow–in comparison to the difficulty encountered when attempting to do the same across water–may appeal to jetskiiers and other water sport enthusiasts. They will encounter a smoother learning experience due to the reduced amount of wind power required to move across ice or snow.

With the popularity of snowkiting on the rise, what are the factors that separate this emerging activity from its more established extreme sport rivals?

“Waves can get only so big, and people on water are seen jumping off cliffs and aircraft carriers, whereas snowkiters kite up terrain and then fly off,” says Jakub. “We kite up mountain fields and lakes and zip across untouched powder regularly.”

The ability to kite up the terrain provides a unique element to the snowkiting, one that fails to be matched by other extreme sports that utilize boards or skis.

“Some like to suffer and go out in horrible conditions for records and such while some like smooth conditions to feel free and ride around areas that are otherwise untouchable,” Jakub continues. “Snowkiting allows you to go where no person has ever gone before.”

The appeal of snowkiting will vary from individual to individual, however, Jakub offers a fairly candid overview of the allure of the sport.

The kite used during the snowkiting experience will depend upon a combination of the individuals’ level of skill and athleticism as well as the surface upon which they choose to perform on. The effort required to plow through thick snow is significantly higher than the power needed to snowkite across harder snow. The danger of crashing into a stray tree or rock are expelled when snowkiting across a frozen lake with the absence of either of these obstacles.

Newcomers are encouraged to begin with smaller kites in order to gradually become accustomed to maneuvering across snow without their kite acquiring too much wind power.

Skilled snowkiters often utilize their athleticism in order to handle the physical demands of the power that larger kites generate.

For experienced snowkiters ready to test themselves and compete against others, The Red Bull Ragnarok provides contestants with a challenge significantly higher than the frozen lake or snow covered landscapes they may have been used to.

Recognized as the largest snowkite race in the world, Red Bull draws snowkiters from many different countries to undertake a grueling five laps of 15 km within five hours.

The Red Bull website provides a translation of Ragnarok that insinuates the type of epic challenge the competitors will face: “Ragnarok stems from an incident in Norse mythology, describing the last battle between the good and evil Gods, where only the heroes of the battlefield survive.”

While snowkiting may not currently be recognized as the most popular sport that utilizes a set of skis or a board, it certainly embodies elements to expand the horizons of athletes seeking a refreshing winter challenge.