Drift Snowkite Magazine

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Winter 2009







28 New

Zealand Snowkite Guide Extend your snowkite season this summer in the Southern Hemisphere

42 Lessons

from the “Masta” Getting schooled by Guillaume “Chasta” Chastagnol

72 Interview:

Petter Johnsen The Norwegian phenomenon makes his mark

50 The

Original Snowkite Masters France’s SKM event still leads the way

84 Interview:

Kari Schibevaag Bringing style and fun to snowkiting

94 Racers

Ready! The future of snowkite racing


54 P ioneering the first ski resort snowkiting program in the USA


70 The Fast Track to Fun 90 Safety Meeting 108 The Importance of Trainer Kites

Media 8 56 58 62

Freeze Frame [Photo Gallery] Videos Review & Top Pick Snowkite Dictionary The Brigade [Reader Photos]


80 New Products 102 Snowkite Board Battle


64 Self-launching Bow Kites 66 Carving Transition—Heelside to toeside 68 Raley to Blind 4


COVER: Ken Lucas knee deep in the fresh at Coalsville Reservoir. Utah, USA. PHOTO: Lance Koudele CONTENTS: Sebastian Bubman. beating gravity at the Col du Lautaret, France. PHOTO: Ramon Schoenmaker

up shop A newcomer on the scene, Taylor Tate has set . As the in Salt Lake City and is making things happenharnessed host of the 2009 Superfly Open Taylor has ut his youthful enthusiasm tempered with an air abohawk him that feels much older than his red-tinged momake and boyish looks. With an impressive ability to rketing important connections and some interesting ma next ideas, Utah Urban Surf might be the first of theh wave of kite shops. Taylor has a relationship wits to offer Liquid Force kites and is ramping up operation into retail, lessons and rentals. If you are eager to get i Resort snowkiting make it up to Powder Mountain Sk 09 and for the Superfly Open, March 13th-15th, 20 get to know Utah Urban Surf.

e v a ’D n i t f i Dr ns

sio g Dimen



f ban Sur Utah Ur Shirts




A Bright Future for Snowkiting Looking back, when we first started Drift, I thought I had a solid idea of how many people were snowkiting across the globe. Over the last year my eyes have been opened to so many more people and places to snowkite. I recently discovered that in Quebec, Canada, there is a large and quickly growing community with people like Benoit Tremblay of Concept Air that has been quietly developing gear for twenty years. It was a great pleasure to meet him and his friends at the Snowkite Summit in December. Through Drift we want to introduce you to amazing people just like him. Looking forward, I am excited to be a part of helping bring snowkiters across the globe together so we can all learn from each other. We will inevitably improve our skills, find new locations and help guide snowkiting into a bright future.

Glacier 3000, Switzerland PHOTO: Nick de Bruijn

We’d like to thank everyone who believed in Drift from the beginning and helped to make the first issue a reality. Readers from 87 different countries downloaded it and the response was amazing!


-James Brown editor@driftsnowkitemag.com


BrUCe Tremper


Know Before You Go UtahAvalancheCenter.org 888-999-4019









PHOTO: Alex Boyce www.driftsnowkitemag.com




John Robichaud at Miscou Island New Brunswick, Canada. PHOTO: Eric Girard



Oliver “Otte� Cammann gets personal with a park bench in Italy. PHOTO: Ramon Schoenmaker



The road less traveled. PHOTO: Bertrand Boone





Kevin Noel at Chiasson Office New Brunswick, Canada. PHOTO: Eric Girard



Patrick Koller. Switzerland. PHOTO: Mark Weiler







Peter Mueller at Glacier 3000, Switzerland PHOTO: Nick de Bruijn





Adam Savoy at Shippagan New Brunswick, Canada PHOTO: Eric Girard www.driftsnowkitemag.com




Peter Mueller and a friend laying tracks. Bozi Dar, Czech Republic PHOTO: Frank Suess www.driftsnowkitemag.com




Jerome Josserand at Col du Lautaret, France PHOTO: Seb Coutant www.driftsnowkitemag.com


DRIFT has the world’s most exciting pho tos, stories, instruction, interviews a nd news for FR EE! Plus, ea ch subscriber c an automat ically win gear an d instant dis counts. Don’t forge t to tell you r friends. (email a frie nd)


Guillaume Chastagnol, New Zealand. PHOTO: Jon Imhoof www.driftsnowkitemag.com 26


The Hand of Vayu

From sunshine to sea comes her divine birth, And from birth to bitter end, she rules this earth, From smooth and steady, and ever present, To a swirling, raging, storm of resent, She doesn’t care what you have to say, She will simply take your words away, As she whispers through the grass and trees, From screams of rage to a gentle breeze, She tells you everything you need to know, Through sleet and rain, and driving snow, All you have to do is look and listen, Feel your tears form, fall, and glisten, She can bring life, death, and the best of the rest, It’s your mind, your heart, and your soul she tests, Don’t debate, don’t hesitate, just listen and feel, When she blows, its time to play for real!

- Obadigadiah

The North Face of Mount Hunter, Alaska Range, Alaska. Winds above 100 mph ravaging the summit. PHOTO: Obadiah Jenkins



New Zealand

Snowkite Guide By Jon Imhoof


t only takes a quick glance at the globe to see that the Southern hemisphere has far less land than the northern hemisphere and therefore far fewer places to snowkite. A look at our earth from the poles is even more revealing. The land masses of the Northern Hemisphere extend much further north while in the southern hemisphere there is the Antarctic in the polar region but the temperate zone is covered mostly by the oceans. Your choices are South America, Australia or New Zealand. — continued



There’s a reason the world champion chooses to return year after year. Chasta feeling at home in 30 knots on a 6m at Cardrona. PHOTO: Jon Imhoof



NewZealand Snowkite Guide

I guess it is human nature to believe that things must be better somewhere else. The grass is always greener or in this case the snow and wind is always better-on the other side of the fence. So I started the winter thinking Australia was the place, or even Chile or somewhere else in South America. Here in little ol’ New Zealand the mountains are too steep and surely the first few waves of snowkiting pioneers had already discovered the only really good spot in the country was Snowfarm on the Waiorau range. A few months later and I realize I couldn’t have been more wrong, after a season of missions that revealed New Zealand is a snowkiting paradise. If you are after easily accessible park and ride conditions it is true that the choices are limited. But if you love a mission and the rewards of backcountry exploration, there could be few places on earth that could match the Southern Alps. There’s a reason the world champion chooses to return year after year. Chasta could be in Tahiti enjoying kitesurfing in his own backyard in conditions most of us would kill for. Instead, he chooses to spend a good deal of time in New Zealand because he loves it. Now I understand why.

General Information about Snowkiting in New Zealand New Zealand consists of two main islands lying between 34 and 46 degrees south latitude. Mountains on the north island are volcanic cones rising to 9,176 feet (2797 m) while the southern alps are formed by the collision of the Pacific and Australian techtonic plates and forms a range which rises to 12,316 feet (3754 m). Conditions New Zealand’s weather is an interplay between some key influences. Understanding the weather will vastly improve your chances of scoring the best snowkiting conditions on the day and will prove invaluable in striking up a conversation with locals. The two hottest topics of conversation on any day are the weather and rugby. 30


— continued

Hugh Pinfold and Matt Taggart from Ozone at Centennial Hut, perched above a sea of ice and snow with the Tasman Sea in the distance. PHOTO: Jon Imhoof



NewZealand Snowkite Guide

Andre Pieterson enjoying the rewards after a gruelling 4WD journey to the Old Woman Range. PHOTO: Jon Imhoof

Australia and the tropics Australia is largely desert and is an intense source of heat for the air which will eventually make it’s way to New Zealand. Northerly systems bring down warm, moist air from the tropics. Kiwis have long known that anything that comes from Aussie is full of hot air, including most Australians! The Tasman Sea Warm air from Australia picks up moisture as it passes across the Tasman sea.



T he Antarctic During the winter months a steady stream of lows is produced off the Antarctic. As they drift northward the first land they encounter is often the Southern Alps. T he Southern Alps The main range of mountains in New Zealand presents an enormous wall these systems must rise over. The air cools as it rises, condenses and drops its load of moisture. New Zealand lies within the “Roaring Forties”. It’s a windy place. Systems tend to move through

Commercial ski resorts begin opening in June and generally close the first week of October. There are often good conditions in the higher mountain areas and glaciers through November and even later.

Three KingsIslands

Bay of Islands



Skill level: New Zealand offers excellent conditions for learning through to advanced freestyle and backcountry missions. Directions: Fly into Queenstown or Wanaka and base yourself in either town on the South Island. NorthIsland Local Info: www.snowkitesurf.com Facilities: Wanaka or Queenstown Tasman Sea are both full service resort towns with everything you’ll need. Shops/Schools: Boarder Patrol offers lessons, rentals and equipment sales as well as camps and guided trips. See www.snowkitesurf.com SouthIsland Restrictions: At Ski areas check in with ski patrol. They probably won’t allow you Christchurch to ride on the skifield (slopes), at least not while they are open. but will permit snowkiting in the out-of-bounds areas. Pacific OnOcean farms leave gates as you found Queenstown them, i.e. if open, leave open, if closed, then close the gate behind you. This is with low pressure areas VERY IMPORTANT to maintaining good circulating in a clockwise relations with land owners. Respect the land and livestock. direction. Typical preOther: The New Zealand backcountry frontal winds will be from the offers unlimited potential for exploration. west as the low approaches New However, snowkiting provides a means Zealand. If the low is more north the to get deep into the backcountry winds will tend northwest, if south, winds very quickly. If you are not trained in will be more westerly. backcountry survival, attend a camp or Generally the freezing level will move course to gain some skills. down the mountain as the low passes with each front becoming progressively — continued colder until the following high pressure area takes hold. As the low passes winds will tend more southerly. Whangarei

Great BarrierIsland



Bay of Plenty




Waitomo Caves Rotorua





New Plymouth Stratford Taranaki






Palmerston North
















Mt. Cook Ashburton


Milford Sound Wanaka




Te Anau






Foveaux Strait Oban Stewart Island

The Snares



NewZealand Snowkite Guide


Locations The following snowkiting spots are listed in order of easily accessible spots first and then more difficult or expensive options.

Snow Farm and the Pisa Range For ease of access, consistency and variety Snow Farm is the top snowkiting spot in New Zealand. Located on the Wairua range at 4920 ft (1500 m), the kite spot gets good snow cover and is rideable in winds from just about any direction. The Pisa range is adjacent to and accessible from Snow Farm.

VIDEO: Kieron Jansch The range runs north to south and rises to 6400 ft (1950 m) offering a variety of snow and wind conditions. Early and late season when Snow Farm’s snow cover is patchy, a short walk up into the Pisa can often save the day. This is a Department of Conservation reserve. Kiting access is along the proving ground fence line north to the end of the testing area and then east across a shallow gully to access the ridge which will take you all the way to the summit. For hiking access check in at the Proving Ground office and take the more direct route to the snowline.

— continued 34


Old Man Range. PHOTO: Chasta



NewZealand Snowkite Guide

Conditions Terrain: Flat ridges and shallow gullies provide great beginner and freestyle terrain while the Pisa offers acres of everything including some steeps and endless backcountry exploration. Wind: Best Northeast through to West but can be kiteable in any direction. As the winds come more to the south the wind strength needs to be quite strong. If it’s lighter winds and southwest go to Cardrona across the valley instead. Skill level: Beginner to expert Directions: Situated along the Cardrona Valley, 35 km from Wanaka and 55 km from Queenstown. Easy road access. Carry chains. Pay $15 at Base Lodge for kite pass. Park at the top car park and cross the gully opposite the lodge building to the flat ridge approximately 500 meters away. Local Info: www.snow-forecast.com/ resorts/Snow-Farm/6day/top Facilities: Lodge at base car park with hotel rooms, restrooms, café, bar and restaurant. Restrictions: Be careful to respect the boundaries with Southern Hemisphere Proving Ground which operates winter vehicle testing or you could get an unscheduled ride on the hood of Toyota’s latest creation or a fine for $2500.



Notes: Please don’t kite back to the car park unless you can land your kite safely.

Cardrona The back bowls of Cardrona magnify the Southwest wind and have epic conditions. The top area near the ski field is great for freestyle and there is often a crowd watching the action. Further downhill it gets steeper and there’s plenty for backcountry exploration. Conditions Terrain: The top is fairly flat providing a good area for freestyle and then it falls away to the southwest in a series of bowls for downhill/uphill riding with lots of wind lips, large rocks and other interesting features Wind: light to moderate Southwest wind. Skill level: Beginner to expert Directions: Located across the Cardrona valley opposite Snow Farm. Drive up to Cardrona ski resort and park

in the car park below the resort. The kiting area is towards Queenstown. Local Info: www.snow-forecast.com/ resorts/Cardrona/6day/bot Facilities: The resort has a lodge, restaurant and ski/snowboard rentals. Restrictions: Please do not snowkite within the ski field boundary.

The Remarkables The Remarkables mountain range provides a spectacular backdrop for Queenstown.

Conditions Terrain: Steep and undulating, lots of big rolls. Gets steeper towards the ski field. Wind: North east wind Skill level: Advanced to Expert Directions: From Queenstown follow hwy 6 to the Remarkables turnoff. Follow the unsealed access road. As you reach the snow line you have the ridgeline to your right. This area is called Outward Bound and connects to Homeward bound. For skiers these runs are accessed via the Shadow Basin on the ski field. Snowkiters can park off the road and go ride. Facilities: Full day resort facilities available on the ski field. Restrictions: Snowkiting is not allowed within the ski field boundary. Other: The drop off the other side would be fatal so stay well clear of the top of the ridge with your kite in the air. There is also some great snowkite terrain for those with touring gear in the Wye Valley which is accessed from the top of the Alta Chair. This requires a South to Southwest wind and full backcountry gear. — continued

I took this shot of Chasta climbing out of a steep bowl north of the spot we were riding in the Hector Mountains. Seeing him go just about anywhere inspired Andre and I to try to follow his tracks. Maybe with a little less style but we did it. Riding with Chasta is always an inspiration. PHOTO: Jon Imhoof www.driftsnowkitemag.com


NewZealand Snowkite Guide

Treble Cone Treble cone is the most scenic commercial ski field in a country that boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. “TC” is also recommended as the spot to head on a windless powder day. Conditions Terrain: A flat terrace located near the top of a steep ridge which provides some good 38


intermediate terrain and opens access to unlimited backcountry possibilities. Wind: Southeast Skill level: intermediate to expert Directions: 19 kms from Wanaka along the Matukituki valley road. The kite spot is located at the top of the Saddle Chair lift. Hang a left off the chair and head for the flat spot on the other side of the ski area boundary called “Tim’s Table”. There’s enough space here for maybe 3 or 4

The Hector Mountains have so much terrain. This is the top of the ridge which is reasonably flat. You can drop off the ridge to ride some steeper stuff or go exploring north into progressively steeper bowls. Here Darren Mulkerrins and Greg Michat rip up the ridge. PHOTO: Jon Imhoof

The Old Man Range “Who needs Norway when you have this!” - Chasta Conditions Terrain: Miles and miles and miles of perfect snowkite terrain. Mostly low angle but with plenty of small bowls and steeps to explore. Wind: Southeast to southwest but can be good in any wind direction Skill level: Beginner to Expert Directions: Head for Roxburgh along highway 8. Turn right on Waikaia Bush Road. Can be very muddy and may require chains. 4WD recommended. Local Info: www.snowkitesurf.com Facilities: None. Be prepared. Restrictions: Be prepared for backcountry travel.

The Old Woman Range The old woman range is on the other side of the Old man range and is a continuation of similar terrain to higher elevations.

people to kite on the flat, but follow the ridge out to the Southwest and there are miles of untracked terrain to explore. Local Info: www.snowkitesurf.com Facilities: full day resort facilities Restrictions: snowkiting is not allowed within ski area boundaries. Be prepared for the backcountry if kiting into the steeper terrain or away from “Tim’s table”.

Conditions Terrain: Miles of wide open, low angle, perfect snowkite terrain with interesting rock features and bowls. Wind: Best in Northwest through to southwest but can be good in any wind direction. Skill level: Beginner to expert Directions: Head to Bannockburn near Cromwell and follow the Bannockburn road which turns into the Nevis Road. Follow it to the summit. If the snow line is low enough you may be able to kite from here. Otherwise, you will need a serious 4WD vehicle or be prepared to hike along the ridge which climbs to the south. — continued www.driftsnowkitemag.com


NewZealand Snowkite Guide

Local Info: www.snowkitesurf.com Facilities: None Restrictions: Be prepared for backcountry travel.

The Hector Mountains The Hector mountains rises from the southern end of Lake Wakatipu near Kingston. Access requires either snowmobile, snowcat or helicopter.

Hut from Franz Joseph. Local Info: www.snowkitesurf.com, www.helicopter.co.nz Facilities: Alpine huts Restrictions: Must be prepared for high alpine conditions and travel on glaciated terrain. Mountain Guides are available for snowkiting expeditions.

Conditions Terrain: Flatish ridgeline open to pretty much any wind direction with steeper bowls falling away to the east. Wind: Ridgeline-Any, Bowls-Northeast to southeast Skill level: beginner to expert Directions: Contact Boarder Patrol or Southern Alps Sleds Local Info: www.snowkitesurf.com and www.southernalpssleds.com Facilities: Dilapidated ski club hut

The Glaciers The Franz Joseph and Fox Glacier Neves are enormous lakes of ice and snow perched beneath New Zealand’s highest peaks. Centennial and Pioneer Huts provide stunning views and are ideal bases for snowkite exploration. Conditions Wind: North through west Skill level: Snowkite skill- intermediate to expert. Alpine skills also required. Directions: Helicopter to Pioneer Hut from Fox Township and to Centennial 40


Good deals from Air New Zealand. www.airnewzealand.com

Matt Taggart surrounded by majesty on the Franz Joseph Glacier. New Zealand has more than 2000 glaciers. PHOTO: Jon Imhoof



Chasta would charge down this fingerlike ridge at full speed and take off, flying 30 feet overhead. Location: Snow Farm PHOTO: Jon Imhoof



s n o s Lfer osm ‘‘ a s t a’’ the M

Snowkiting in New Zealand with Guillaume “Chasta” Chastagnol

It was like being in the same room with Yoda and Luke Skywalker. Although I couldn’t understand a word they were saying, I was sure each phrase could unlock the secrets of the force. Remi Meum had just arrived in New Zealand for the first time after bailing out early from Australia due to poor snow and wind conditions. Chasta and I picked him up at the airport in Queenstown and — continued



Andre Pieterson cruising along the Old Woman Range. PHOTO: Jon Imhoof

Chasta appears from the fog at the Old Man range. PHOTO: Greg Michat

headed straight up the Remarkables hoping the Northeast wind would kick in. We stopped the van near the top and jumped out to check the wind“nothing”, I declared disappointedly. Yoda, I mean Chasta, cocking his head to one side as if listening to someone whispering –“is enough”. Well okay, if you say so. You are the World Champion. 44


There wasn’t much wind but Chasta did prove his point; And not for the first time. During the course of the camps he would often set up his kite when we all thought there wasn’t enough wind and proceed to take off. We would all then hurry to set up our kites only for them to lay there limp and lifeless. Chasta seems to create his own conditions. Or maybe, he and the wind have become such good playmates that the wind seeks him out. Chasta and Remi were here in New Zealand for the first in a series of Snowkiting camps run by Boarder Patrol in the Southern Alps. The other campers arrived in dribs and drabs from all over the globe: there were two deep-sea divers from Perth named Steve and Chris; Kieron, a snowkite fanatic who

s n o s s Lfer o m ‘‘ a s t a’’ the M

came all the way from England for the camp, and Roms, a Frenchman working in Queenstown. We were based at a private lodge in Wanaka and hosted there by Scott and Greg who were also very excited about having a crack at snowkiting. It was a motley crew of beginner to advanced kitersufers who had pretty much done no snowkiting. What was lacking in experience was more than made up for in enthusiasm. From day one Mother Nature was messing with us and it soon became obvious she intended to teach us a few lessons. The lows that normally pass to the south were coming straight over us and this one brought with it an easterly wind which is contrary to the norm. The plan had been to kite at Snowfarm but the easterly wasn’t getting in there so it

was time for some exploration. Evenings were spent studying the terrain on Google Earth, phoning farmers and tour operators and anyone else who might have some information on areas we thought might be good. We found a farm road that looked like it would access some good terrain in the Old Man Range and next day set off. The road was so muddy we had to put chains on all 4 wheels but once we got to the snowline it was smooth sailing until the road disappeared into a snowdrift. We were in the clouds with no idea where we were going-but up. Chasta rigged up quickly and disappeared into the fog. Moments later he returned and pointed the rest of us in the direction of — continued www.driftsnowkitemag.com


a higher plateau which served as a good base and learning spot for the beginners. Chasta again disappeared into the clouds. Curiosity got the best of Roms and I, so we followed Chasta’s tracks into the void. With no more than a couple meters visibility my senses were on edge. Trying to follow Chasta is not always the best idea in good conditions and I half expected his track to disappear over a cliff. Sensory deprivation plays tricks with your mind: I soon had no idea which direction our base was or how long I’d been following Chastas tracks. Roms kept drifting in and out of sight and at least gave me the comfort that I was not alone. Then suddenly the sky opened up before me and all I could see was a near endless horizon of snow and mountains. Chasta was a couple miles in the distance and obviously enjoying his new found playground. We finally caught up with him-or more like he waited for us. “Who needs Norway when you have this!” he exclaimed with a grin. And so began a season of epic missions and lessons from the master himself. Boarder Patrol offers week long snowkiting camps in New Zealand with Chasta during the months of July, August and September. The camps are held at secret spots throughout the Southern Alps-they’re so secret they don’t even know where they’ll be going until a couple days beforehand! That’s because they choose the best spot for the forecasted conditions for the week. For more information see www.snowkitesurf.com 46


Chasta at Snow Farm PHOTO: Jon Imhoof

s n o s s Lfer o m ‘‘ a s t a’’ the M








L A N I G ORI s r e t s a M e t i k w Sno enck B y B ri a n S c h


here is something about snowkiting that evokes amazing sensations within the soul. So strong are these feelings of stoke that we can’t contain them, and many snowkiters feel compelled to share this secret passion that they have stumbled upon. Kite events are the core of this sharing experience, and have spawned 50


from weekend rallies to festivals and competitions. These grass roots events began with just a handful of riders, coming together to share their knowledge and local terrain, and have evolved into the epicenter of the snowkiting world. Today, there are a string of events popping up around the world, embracing every aspect snowkiting offers. Yet one event stands at the heart of the sport, a driving force

PHOTO: Bertrand Boone

behind the positive vibe and culture of snowkiting… the Snowkite Masters. Referred to by many riders simply as the SKM, this event brings together the commonality kiters share, and provides a chill atmosphere to exchange techniques, experience and cultures from many different nations. While there are now several SKM’s held across the globe. The original was held in France

and is still the largest core gathering of snowkiters. The French Snowkite Masters has evolved into the World Championships and is truly a global event, with riders attending from as far east as Russian and as far west as America. Along with the opportunity to freeride in the Alps amidst a mind blowing setting, snowkiters can compete in Freestyle, Racing and show off their mountain climbing skills with a Best Line competition. After learning of the success of the first SKM in December of 2004, I started planning with Chasta to host a sister event in the US. Five years later I was elated to have the opportunity to return to France and experience the original Snowkite Masters for myself. The trip was nothing less than phenomenal. Despite the aggravations of international travel, and losing my bags for a few days, everything would fell right into place. After the first bags came through, my road partner Noah & I raced from the Lyon airport directly to the Col du Lauteret. After securing a hotel room and closing down the bar at 11 o’clock, we realized we had an hour to get back to the Col for a midnight session. The wind was blowing, the skies were barely lit under a partial moon, and Noah was off into the darkness. My luck was a little different, my clothing had not made it yet, only my gear. As I sat roadside in the chilly 19 degree weather, I contemplated the situation. I’m in Levis, it’s the middle of the night and it’s cold. Words from an old friend rang through my head…”nobody said snowkiting was for pussies”. I put on my harness and chased Noah into the night for the next two hours. This would start the trip off with memories that will never fade. — continued www.driftsnowkitemag.com



ORIGINAL sters a M e t i k w Sno

Returning in daylight was a different scene. The Red Bull tent was pumping out tunes and dozens of flags littered the hillsides. Soon riders gathered around in lawn chairs, basking in the morning sun and awaiting the schedule at the daily athletes meeting. During the Freestyle comps, Noah & I would head out exploring the massive terrain, free to roam in every direction. When the winds were lighter, we could still find places to climb up under kite power, and hiking would often take us to scenic views and powder runs. The Snowkite Masters in France lasts an entire week, which is enough time to experience a variety of wind conditions and directions. We were able to explore quite a bit of new terrain and ride almost every side of the Col du Lauteret during the event. 52


Of course, the powered days are the most memorable, climbing steep faces quickly and covering many kilometers of untracked snow. Parties were the nightly norm, and rallied snowkiters together for more camaraderie and debauchery. Dj Jaggae and Jaz turned out the tunes, and the dual Afro team was a key element to the positive vibe that grew every evening. The days followed the night in a rhythmic routine that felt very natural. And each dawn brought new kiting opportunities. My personal routine fell in line with the local customs, and I found myself eating quiche and cafĂŠ au lait every morning possible, followed by bluebird skies and a long day in the mountains.

PHOTOS: Bertrand Boone

As the week rolled down and friends said good bye, email addresses were exchanged and plans for the next journey were eagerly made. Noah and I had planned accordingly and knew that staying a few more days would open up more adventures. Right we were. Stumbling by accident into a B&B near the Col, we found we were neighbors we the local contingent of Kite-Ski-bums, living the highest lifestyle in a quiet village. Well, not so quiet, for that first night the crew was celebrating a successful event, as most of this band were volunteers all week. Guitars were plugged in and drums were beaten as live music and joyous celebration clouded the air. Complete with a feast, this was the cap on a great week in the Alps‌ until the maps came out.

A quick check of the weather and a double-check of the topos, and we were packing for Cervier, a pass only a few kilometers out of town, and perfect for the prevailing west wind. While clouds would push snow down on top of us, disguising the peaks in a fog, we were welcomed by strong winds that powered us across the fresh powder. Soon a dozen kites popped up, and we were joined by the local crew that so graciously invited us in the night before. As colors lit up the sky and shouts of joy were hollered out‌ I realized that this was another successful SKM, bringing riders from around the world together in some very special places.




By Dave Grossman

Giant Leap for Snowkiting Powder Mountain and Best Kiteboarding pioneer the United States’ first resort snowkiting program

PHOTO: Chris Nester


owder Mountain Ski resort in Utah is the first resort in North America to develop a snowkiting program right on the mountain. Best Kiteboarding has teamed up with them to create a great opportunity for snowkiting as a precedent in getting more ski areas and more winter sports lovers involved in the sport. Powder Mountain is one of the closest ski areas to the Salt Lake City Airport and as such it gets a lot of visitors from out of town. Even with this significant out of town traffic, it is a great local mountain with a fun, mellow vibe. The terrain is quite varied and the ski resort itself is organized in an unusual manner without any one single base area, but rather three parking areas that offer different types of access to the mountain. Powder 54


Mountain claims 7,000 acres of skiable terrain and with that they claim the most of any resort in North America. The snowkiting location consists of a wide open ridge and a bowl (approximately 80 acres) located east southeast of the Hidden Lake Lodge and parking area at the summit of Powder Mountain and is accessed via the Sunrise surface lift. The snowkiting area is sloped South. The area is best ridden with a wind out of the South and can be ridden on a North day, but is sheltered from a West wind. The kiting at Powder Mountain can be great and the area plays host to the Superfly Open in March, however Powder Mountain’s role in the bigger picture of snowkiting is that it is an

opens door for the public to discover snowkiting. The proximity to Salt Lake City, the wide diversity of activities available on the mountain and the prominent position of the kiting location all add up to a great place to get a first taste of snowkiting. Skiers and snowboarders visiting Powder Mountain have a unique opportunity to watch snowkiters riding the powder going uphill as well as downhill, so they can see the amazing potential of the sport. They can do this from the parking lot and from the deck of the Hidden Lake Lodge. If they are interested, they can take a lesson right there. Best Kiteboarding has a full spectrum of lessons available at the area including a wide variety of Best kites for rental or demo. Combined with excellent instructors, Powder Mountain is the gateway drug for the bigger world of snowkiting. This is the important point to keep in mind about Powder Mountain. It isn’t a be-all/end-all snowkiting destination. But it certainly is a great place to be introduced to snowkiting. There has been a wide ranging discussion about Powder Mountain in the snowkiting community and as a pioneering effort, the Best Snowkite Center at Powder Mountain has already seen some controversy. Some of the controversy is a function of the brand wars that have been raging in snowkiting and specifically in Utah. Part of the issue is based on Best Kiteboarding coming in and taking over the existing snowkiting operations at Powder Mountain and

finally some of the discussion is a result of some short-sighted territorial squabbles that have erupted from business owners struggling to make a living with snowkiting in the early years of the sport. The lift access slopes at Powder Mountain varies with an even distribution between beginner, intermediate and advanced and a couple of terrain parks. With six lifts, a road shuttle service, snowcat skiing and heli skiing, Powder Mountain offers almost anything for the skier or snowboarder and blankets it all in nearly 500� of snow a year. This means that someone in the family can ski, someone can snowboard and still others can try snowkiting. And that is a win-win situation for everyone.

LEARN TO SNOWKITE Pre-Flight Lesson $49.00 1 hour Interactive introduction to kiting.

Kite On Snow (AM or PM) $279.00 4-5 hrs Trainer kite introduction, Kite control, rigging/setting the kite, safety techniques, snow techniques, riding techniques, upwind techniques, kite relaunching/self-landing and self-rescue.

Kite On Snow Clinic $459.00 Two Days (8-9 hrs) A two-day version that helps you become a proficient snowkiter.

Backcountry Freeriding $299.00 4-5 hrs Backcountry Freeriding. Snowmobile/snowcat transport and guide support. Exploring the backcountry. Learn how to kite in the backcountry.

Get more information about Powder Mountain? For reservations call 801-745-3772 Ext 181 Website: www.powdermountain.com Email: utkitecenter@bestkiteboarding.com www.driftsnowkitemag.com



By James Brown

PROGRESSION: KITE LANDBOARDING - BEGINNER For those of you looking to expand the fun you can have with your existing kiteboarding gear, you’ve definitely got to add a landboard to your arsenal. If it’s your first time on a landboard, then this DVD is the ticket to riding correctly and having a blast right away. If you already know how to kite with a landboard it will reinforce the fundamentals and even teach you a few new tricks. The film assumes that you have basic kite flying skills and is not a replacement for professional instruction. The video covers basic concepts like wind, ideal locations, conditions, equipment and terminology. Then they walk you through speed control, edging, stance, riding upwind, sliding, toe side, carving turns, jumping, grabs and aerial transitions. Pick up a copy and treat yourself to a whole new world of kiting. Running Time: 150+ minutes For copies go to: www.fatsand.com


VIDEO: Boulgakow

http://www.vimeo.com/3129909 or www.chasta.info

Be the first to SUBMIT the Top Pick viral video for the next issue and win a new pair of Zeal Dominator goggles.




shop! Well stocked

ud One of the top retailers for snowkite gear is Clo 9 Toys in Draper, Utah. Known as a world-classrything paragliding school, Cloud 9 Toys also offers eveion of the snowkiter could ever need including a selectiteboards, snowkites from the top manufacturers, snowk Steve Mayer harnesses, accessories and instruction! Owners kiters and and Mike Steen are both accomplished pilots and dedication they have the quality of their shop reflects not only the ustry. With complete for the sport, but also their position in the ind ost everything they sell, size ranges and color selections in stock for almwant. And if something Cloud 9 Toys is sure to have what you need or h an on site repair breaks, they will get you back into the game witns. If you are in the south facility and repair technicia check Salt Lake City area, stop by Cloud 9 Toys and it out or drop by online at paragliders.com

e v a ’D n i t f i Dr

flying u back o y t e s g ! Repair quickly es... Kites and cloth





hese common terms will help you understand the unique language used in snowkiting. [Note: We’ve italicized words that also appear with their own definitions.]

5th Line: Is a single line that can be used in two different ways. It can be set up on the trailing edge or go to the center of the leading edge or to assist with launching a “C” kite on snow. Many newer kites also use the 5th line on the leading edge for a safety and to help trim the kite.

Its shape has a very swept back design. (Looks much like the brim of a baseball cap) This design has maximum de-power and it’s shape relaunches easily on snow or water. Bow Tie: When a foil kite collapses causing a twist. (Not to be confused with a Bow Kite)

Apparent Wind: The extra pull generated by a kite once it is in motion.

Brake Lines: Single or multiple lines that are attached to the trailing edge of a Aspect Ratio: The ratio of width to foil kite. By pulling this line a rider can length (front to land the kite in a back) of a kite. controlled situation. Brake Lines These lines are also Bar Pressure: The De-power used for relaunch amount of pull or Strap when the kite is resistance that the upside down. rider feels while steering the Chicken “C” Kite: Is an Loop control bar. inflatable kite with no bridals. It can have Battens: Semi-stiff either 4 or 5 lines lengths of fiberglass, Control Bar from the control bar (in most cases) most Chicken directly attached commonly found Bone to the kite. Its shape on the tips of resembles the letter “C”. inflatable kites.

Bladder: The inflatable portion of an inflatable style kite. Blind: When a rider turns their body 180˚ from the direction of travel so they are facing away from the kite. Bridle Lines: Multiple small lines connected on the underside or leading edge of a kite. They stabilize and help support the shape of the kite. Bomb Drop: When an inflatable kite falls from the sky leading edge first in light wind. Bow Kite: An inflatable kite with a supported leading edge bridal system. 58


Canopy: The material surface of the kite (excluding the leading edge, struts and bridles) Chicken Bone: (also Chicken Finger, Kicket, Donkey Dick) It is found inside the chicken loop, and makes a secure connection to the harness hook to keep it from accidentally falling out. Chicken Loop: A semi-flexible loop designed to connect the rider to the kite; it passes through the control bar to allow adjustment in the power of the kite. It should contain a safety release or quick disconnect.

Clock: When winds switch direction. Closed-cell: A foil kite that has oneway inlets for air to fill the cells. They are designed to keep snow out of the cells and retain the shape of the kite. Cock Block: When another rider gets in the way of another rider. Control Bar: The bar used to steer and control the kite. There are two main types of bars: A de-power bar with a chicken loop that slides in and out through the center of the control bar which lets the rider have on-thefly control over the amount of power in the kite. This is preferred by most riders. A Fixed bar Trailing has a chicken Edge loop that does not slide in and out through the center of the control bar, thus eliminating on-the-fly power adjustment.

Glide Ratio: The ratio of horizontal glide to vertical drop that a kite provides when flying. The higher the ratio, the better horizontal distance you gain. Gust Busting: Fighting gusty wind conditions. Hang on! Harness: A device worn by the rider that allows them to hook directly to the kite. They come in two basic styles: waist and seat (includes loops that encircle the legs). The connection to the chicken loop may include either a spreader bar with a hook or a simple D-ring.

Dangle: When a rider jumps and goes into a pendulum motion. It indicates inexperience, lack of style, bad timing, laziness or freaking out during a jump. De-power: On-the-fly power adjustment. De-power Strap: (also Trim Strap) An adjustable strap that allows the rider to increase or decrease power. Figure-Eight: A common knot used in kiting. It is larger and easier to untie than a standard overhand knot. Foil Kite: (also Ram Air) A two-layered kite with an open leading edge allowing air to fill the kite and giving it it’s wing or foil shape.

Hindenburg: When your inflatable kite suddenly tips forward and falls from the sky Leading due to light winds. Edge Hot Launch: Launching your kite straight downwind.

Open Cells

Inflatable Kite: (also L.E.I.-Leading Edge Inflatable or Tube) Has an inflatable leading edge and struts with a single layer of fabric for the canopy. Its original design and primary use is for water while adding support and flotation to the kite.

Bridle lines

Kook-Proof: A kite that is permanently rigged so that the rider cannot accidentally attach the lines incorrectly. For example, the front pig tails have knots and the front lines have loops that match. The back pig tails would have loops and the back lines would have knots. This way the operator cannot hook the back lines to the front of the kite.

— continued www.driftsnowkitemag.com


SNOWKITE DICTIONARY Larks Head: A looped line that is used to attach to a knot on a pig tail. Leading Edge: The front edge of the kite that faces into the wind. Leash: This is a primary or back up safety device that connects the rider to the kite. It is designed to de-power the kite in case the rider lets go of the bar when the chicken loop is not connected to the harness hook. Leeward: (also Downwind) Any area that is downwind from the direction the wind is blowing. In other words, anywhere in front of the rider with the wind to their back.

Lull: When the wind gets lighter than previously.

Seat Harness with Leg Loops

Luff: What happens to a kite when it does not have enough air to keep it aloft, so it collapses and falls out of the sky.


Nad Rattled: When you get dragged face down across the snow after a crash. Neutral Zone: The area at the outer edges of the wind window that have the least amount of power on the kite. Open-Cell: A foil kite specifically designed for use on snow or land that has openings on the leading edge that allow air to pass in and out of the cells. These types of kites are quickly and safely de-powered. Pig Tails: Heavy cord that is permanently attached to the kite with a knot or loop at the end. Flying lines are then attached 60


Port Tack: Port means “left” side. If you are moving with your left hand forward and your back to the wind. You are on a port tack. You are to give way to others on starboard tack and leeward of you. Powered Jump: A jump achieved by keeping the kite stationary at a 45-degree angle to the ground, then edging hard away from the kite, releasing the tension to pop off of the snow. Power Zone: The area in the wind window that generates the most power. Quick Release: A safety device found on many Waist places, either on the Harness control bar system or with rider. It can be released Spreader Bar & Hook or pulled under extreme load to kill the kite or free a rider from the kite.

 

Lofting: This can happen when the kite is positioned overhead and a large gust of wind lifts the rider unexpectedly off the ground. Lofting can be very dangerous.

directly to these.

Rag-Doll: A crash that makes you look like a doll getting shaken by an angry dog. Range: The span from minimum to maximum amount of wind that a kite can comfortably (or should be) flown in. Rotor: The effect of a stationary object that causes wind to rotate down and back to the windward direction. This can be hazardous to a rider. S.L.E. (Supported Leading Edge). An inflatable kite which has a bridal system on the leading edge. These may commonly be referred to as a Hybrid or Bow Kites. Sent Jump: A jump achieved by sending [steering] the kite up and back from the

direction of travel which lifts the rider off the ground.

Tractoring: Looping the kite to generate power; usually in an effort to climb a hill.

Spaghetti: What you have when your lines are a tangled mess.

Trim: The angle of attack the kite has in the wind. It can be adjusted with a de-power bar. More trim equals more drag and lift. Medium trim provides fast kite speed and efficient turning. Under trimmed will result in de-power and instability.

Spectra: High strength flying lines standard on most kites. Spreader Bar: A metal bar with a hook that is integrated into the harness for attaching to the kite.

Unhooked: Riding or jumping with the Stability: Can be referred to in many ways. Most common uses are to describe chicken loop “unhooked” from the spreader bar hook. wind conditions. Stable; meaning Wind Window: This is the area where the smooth and steady. Unstable; meaning kite flies relative to gusty and shifty. It Zenith the rider’s position. also refers to kite The power zone is performance. A the area directly stable kite is one with a predictable solid Neutral downwind of the rider. The neutral Zone feel while in the air. Power zone is the area An unstable kite is Zone to either side and one that may be out above the rider. of tune or inherent in Wind its design. Windward: (also Direction Upwind) The area Starboard Tack: behind the rider Starboard means [Wind Window] when the wind is to “right” side. If you their back. In other words, the direction are moving with your right hand forward that the wind is coming from. If you are and the wind at your back, you are on windward of others you must give way to starboard tack. You have right of way anyone leeward (downwind). over others on a port tack.

Struts: These are inflatable tubes found on inflatable kites. They run from the leading edge to the trailing edge, giving the kite shape as well as supporting it. Suicide Leash: Connecting a leash directly to the chicken loop instead of a “full” de-power option. Tea Bagged: When your kite is so powered that it lifts you off the snow then back down, repeatedly. Trailing Edge: The back edge of the kite

Wind Shadow: An area directly leeward (downwind) of a stationary object that is blocked from wind. Sheeting: The ability to change the power of the kite by pushing or pulling on the control bar. Katabatic Wind: Cold air that flows down a mountain causing wind. Zenith: The location of the kite when it is directly overhead at the top of the power zone.



THE BRIGADE Bjorn Kaupang in Chile. PHOTO: Morten Gjerstad

PHOTO: Eric Bader

Jacob Buzianis eats up the pow at Powder Mt., USA, PHOTO: Courtesy of Jacob Buzianis



A snow blasted building makes a nice backdrop. PHOTO: Ramon Schoenmaker

Snow and epic terrain as far as the eye can see. Yukon, Alaska PHOTO: Kite Yukon

Julien Fillion bones it out. PHOTO: Gregg Gnecco

John Robichaud bridging the gap. New Brunswick, Canada PHOTO: Eric Girard

Zebulon Jakub lays it down at the Tugg Hill Rally in New York, USA. PHOTO: Jan Brabant

Submit the Top Pick photo and win a new pair of Zeal Dominator goggles. Send photos to editor@driftsnowkitemag.com




g n i h c n u a l f l e S U s e t i k w o B

sing a bow-style water kite on snow requires some special technique to easily and safely self-launch. Ryan Waite from Idaho Kitesports shows you how.



WORDS: Ryan Waite

Pull on this line 30˚ Win


t irec


1 2 3

4 5

at least 100m away from the 1 Walk parking area and all downwind hazards. Once you have approached a safe distance, drop your snowboard or skis. Then walk another 25m away from hazards at a 30-degree-angle to straight downwind. and pump down and walk 2 Set yourkite lines out following the path you have already created. your bar firmly in the snow on 3 Plant the downwind side of your path. This allows you to walk back from your kite after hooking up the lines so your 64


6 7

path will be on the safe upwind side of your lines. your lines walked out and 4 With attached to your kite. You will want to move the kite slightly upwind and further towards the edge of the wind window. When done properly all kite lines will come out from behind the kite. No lines should run underneath the kite. the kite so the downwind 5 Then wing rotate tip is catching a small amount of wind. Pile snow on the upwind wing tip. By doing this, the kite will be set to rotate in the correct direction.

HELPFUL HINTS n You just need enough snow on the tip to keep the kite from sliding. n K eep lines clear of the kite tips so they don’t catch.

n K eep your head up for other kiters that could run over your lines and check them for slices if they do. n Take your time when setting up.


8 We want it to slide downwind and open up the canopy. This will release the snow from the wing tip. kite is anchored with snow 6 Once and thethelines are clear running back to the bar, once again walk your path back to your bar.


Grab the bar and hook in. Either put your skis or snowboard on, or be comfortable doing this with your kite in the air. Then slowly increase tension to your outside line that is attached to the downwind wing tip. This can be done by stepping backwards, or pulling a little extra on the outside line.



tension to that wing tip, the 8 With kite should slide and rotate on its leading edge downwind opening up the canopy. This is when you should double-check that your lines are straight before you actually allow the kite to turn and launch. towards the kite will 9 Usually allow it moving to open up and launch safely. Be ready for the kite to pull you and point your skis or snowboard towards the kite to absorb the power. you are riding, stay away from 10 Once the launch area until it’s time to selfland, so others have room. www.driftsnowkitemag.com



n o i t i s n a r t g n i v Car eside o t o t e d i s Heel SKILL LEVEL INTERMEDIATE RIDER: James Brown

WORDS: James Brown

PHOTOS: Daniel Boromisa


his transition can be deceptively difficult, just as it was when you first learned to make heel to toeside snowboard turns. The first attempts may be awkward, but with practice you will get them dialed with style.

n Start out on your heelside edge with your kite low. n Maintain medium speed. You don’t want to be going super fast when learning this transition. Likewise, going too slow makes balancing difficult. If you remember learning to snowboard on a hill, going slow makes it harder to balance with the board on the edge. www.driftsnowkitemag.com


 n Begin the transition by steering the kite up. Concentrate on steering the kite in one smooth movement back in the opposite direction. Be aggressive. A common mistake is to hesitate with the kite directly overhead. n Don’t be too eager with your body movement. Lean into the turn nice and slow so you don’t fall over..


HELPFUL HINTS n A s you prepare for the transition the most important thing to keep in your mind is that the kite goes first and you follow.

n S teer the kite quickly but smoothly and your body and board will turn quickly but smoothly too.

 n Turn your head and drop your shoulders. Your body always follows your head...so look in the direction that you want to go. Try not to look up at the kite. n Roll your board from the heelside to the toeside. Leaning into the turn slightly but letting the kite do the work of pulling you.

 n The biggest challenge is not rushing the process. Remember to lead with the kite and let it pull you around after it. n At first your movements may be jerky and you may end up sliding the board to avoid falling forward onto your face. Keep practicing to smooth out the transition and get your board up on edge for a picture perfect carve www.driftsnowkitemag.com



d n i l B o t Raley

e d R a il e y . ll e p s T O N a rd e r, y is N O T E : R a le n a m e d a ft e r w a k e b o It w a s . Respect. y le a R t e h C



n [This step is not shown in the sequence, but it is important.] Get up to maximum speed, veer downwind slightly to release the pressure from your kite and unhook your chicken loop from your spreader bar.

WORDS: James Brown


n As soon as you unhook, in one quick motion, edge upwind, pop off the snow and let the force against the kite stretch you out. Don’t fight it. Let your arms, stomach and legs stretch.

PHOTO: Kristjan Sigudarson


n Go with the motion, letting your legs and board swing high up behind you. The higher your board, the easier it is to get it back underneath you for landing.


n Keep your head down between your arms and spot your height above the snow.

 68


HELPFUL HINTS nO pposite from sent jumps, you will get more height if you keep your kite low AND it will be much easier to pass the handle.


n At the peak of the jump, the pull will lessen. At this point, pull the bar in toward your front hip.


n P ractice unhooked Raleys to perfect your load and pop AND getting the board above your head. n P ractice riding blind without jumping.

n Rotate counter clockwise and let your body return to a vertical position.


n Point your board straight downwind toward your kite so there is no pressure on your arm. It also keeps you from catching the heelside edge.


n Absorb the landing by bending your knees. Reach behind your back with your left hand and grab the bar. Release your right hand until the bar is in front of you again. Grab again with both hands and hook back in. Congratulations!

ď‚ƒď‚ƒ www.driftsnowkitemag.com



By Joel Beatty PHOTO: Gustav Schmiege

The Fast Track to Fun nowkiting can be a graceful thing to watch. A giant kite making smooth turns through the air and pulling the rider with seemingly no effort at all. To many spectators it can look easy. When the


or up close just because you excel at your current cross-over sport. There’s no doubt that your current skills will aid you in becoming a great kiter, but each background usually has a unique deficiency when it’s applied to kiting.

conditions are right, it can be. But as any experienced kiter knows, conditions and circumstances can get extreme quickly.

Windsurfers for example come into the sport with an intimate knowledge of wind and weather. Weather as it relates to wind sports is one of the hardest things to teach and the experience of windsurfing is an excellent background to start kiting. Tacking into the wind, changing the angle of the kite and absorbing the gusts are all skills that can be applied to kiting. The biggest area of training for windsurfers is flying of the kite. Kites have some of the same features of a sail: you can sheet them in and out

Because snowkiting is an easily accessible cross-over sport, it attracts athletes from a variety of backgrounds. Snowboarding, skiing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, sailing, stunt kite flying and telemarking are all sports that lend their skills to snowkiting. For potential kiters, it’s important not to fall into the trap of how easy the sport can look on a video 70


A good instructor will not only give you a solid foundation in basics like kite safety, handling and wind knowledge, but they will also show you how to blend your new kite flying skills with your existing skills to shorten your learning curve. A lesson can also save il l s h o w y o u w r o t c ru t s Skiers (and you money by A g o o d in k it e fl y in g w e n r u o y d snowboarders) learning what h o w t o b le n e x is t in g s k il ls t o r u have a whole equipment is s k il ls w it h y o rv e u c g in rn a r le different set right for you s h o rt e n y o u of challenges and showing while learning you how to to kite than athletes with a wind sport care for it. We all pay our dues along the background. In general, skiers have the way, but spending some money for a easiest time transitioning into snowkiting. lesson in the beginning will pay for itself They tend to like going fast as they many times over. would down a hill. But kiting at such speed requires a precise amount of control and knowledge about your kite. Learning to edge against the kite and fly it to the edge of the wind window What is covered in a lesson? in order to maintain control without • E stablishment of Kiting Goals accidentally sending the kite into a jump • W ind Theory is something that skiers have to spend • S nowkiting Theory time working up to. • E quipment setup • P re-Flight Check Snowboarders have some of the biggest • U se of all Safety Systems challenges to overcome because they • K ite Control have to learn a whole new body position • U nderstanding Power Generation when behind a kite as well as become with the Kite proficient in riding both directions. This • L aunching the Kite requires time to train your muscles for • S now Starts (from a seated and a proper kiter position (lean against standing position) the kite with a straight back, back leg • A ssisted and Unassisted Landings bent, front leg straight out with your • R elaunching foot pointed flat). There’s a lot to think • S elf-Rescue about if you are learning to fly a kite at • B oard and Body Position the same time. Often the adjustments • C ontrolling Your Speed to body position and kite position are • G oing Upwind simple to make, but it can be a hard • N avigating Terrain thing to figure out on your own. • B asics of Jumping and bleed off the wind by changing its angle, but a kite operates in a large three-dimensional space since the kite is 27 meters away. It can be used to create a tremendous amount of power as it moves quickly through this “wind window.”

Skills & Knowledge




Petteer n Johns

Petter Johnsen has quickly risen to the top of the heap with influences from his crew in the snowkite paradise of Norway. Those influences have given him the motivation and spark to push the limits of snowkiting, but he’s definitely not a carbon copy. Petter has his own style. While using his background in snowboarding, he is dedicated to putting his own mark on the wakestyle moves, rails and kickers that he loves. Check him out in Dimensions, the third DVD from www.snowkitefilm.com — continued 72


By Dave Grossman

PHOTOS: Oystein Kristiansen




STATISTICS Age 21 Height 178cm Weight 60kg/130lbs Years kiting 3 Kites Liquid Force/HiFi Boards K2 Believer & WWW Bindings K2 Formula & Sonic Pro Boots K2 T1 & Darko Harness Liquid Force Helmet Sweet Trooper Clothes Holden, Sweet, Electric Website petterjohnsen.com



Petter Johnsen

How many days per season do you snowkite? Well, I’m not really sure, The first year I lived at Haugastol I kited almost every time I had the chance, even though the weather was bad and the visibility was really bad. I was just so stoked to be out kiting. Last year I got a bit more fussy about the conditions, I wanted it to be good visibility and that kind of stuff, sunny you know! Also since I had my accident 7 months ago I could kite a good session but then I took some days off just relaxing to fully recover. This year I feel in much better shape and my back is pretty good. So I will try to kite

in d e e r fa t re h it w lf e s I o il m y t h e c o ld ! m o fr t c e t t o p ro

PHOTO: Oystein Kristiansen

as much as possible, and don’t be too fussy about the conditions. If the ”pop” is bad I will do something else, jump high or something. What languages do you speak? Norwegian, English and I understand some Swedish. Where were you born? Far up north in Norway in a city called Tromso. Its cold! How do you deal with the extreme cold? I oil myself with reindeer fat to protect from the cold! No, I usually get cold easily, especially my feet.

Where are you calling home now? In the summer I am chillin’ in the south of Norway in a town called Tonsberg and in the winter I live at Haugastol (Hardangervidda Plateau in Norway), the famous Norwegian snowkite spot. What keeps you there? Tonsberg is a nice summer place, my family and many friends live there. Haugastol is just because it’s the best snowkiting spot in the world I reckon. The conditions here are usually pretty sweet. Where would you like to snowkite that you haven’t, yet? I would love to go to New Zealand, — continued www.driftsnowkitemag.com



Petter Johnsen

Canada and it would be cool to go to Japan to see all the high-tech things they have!

It must be pretty cool to be kiting with Remi and the whole snowkitefilm.com crew. What has it been like getting all the exposure in the Morten’s films? Its good having friends to kite with and to get pushed and inspired by! Those boys have been in the game for a while. So it’s good to learn some kite stuff and practical things too! Filming with Morten is really fun. He puts a lot of effort into what he is doing and it’s not an easy thing to deal with us boys. But yeah, he pushes us around like a

Where are the favorite places you have traveled? Australia, USA and Brazil. What are your essential travel items? Passport and music. What are you listening to? Right now I am listening to The Modern Lovers, they are sick! MGMT, The Ting Tings, The Black Lips, Johnny Flynn. If you were stranded on a desert island, what is the one album you would want to have with you? That’s a tough one, I guess Wolfmother. But what’s the chance of getting stranded? If that happened to me I think I would actually enjoy it... if there were waves and I could surf. What are you driving? KIA KIA?! Sweet. That is a very practical car for a 21-year-old. Do you have any stickers on it? Fuzzy dice? Roof rack? He he, yeah it’s nice. I’ve got a couple of big Liquid Force stickers on it. Represent! And a “Something Stronger” sticker. None of those fuzzy dice things. And my boards goes in the back. How did you discover snowkiting? Some local heros like Remi Meum and a guy named Andre were doing it, and I thought they were really cool people, so I wanted to be like them. At least until I got to know them! Ha ha. I also got into snowkiting because I wanted to try out something new. Combining a snowboard with a kite opens up so much potential and so many things to have fun with! 76


boss and gets us to perform well. Morten is really talented in making movies, he does all the filming, editing and producing himself and they always turns out great. Inflatable or foil? Definitely inflatable. Who do you kite for? The sickest brand ever... Liquid Force! And K2 helps me out with boards.

There is room for more if anyone is interested? What has it been like having the support of a great company like Liquid Force? I am super stoked. I always wanted to ride for LF, so I am really happy and thankful for their support! — continued

ansen s te in K ri s ti P H O TO : O y www.driftsnowkitemag.com



Petter Johnsen

What are you doing when you aren’t snowkiting? I try to snowbord as much as possible. Also hitting the gym and pump some muscles. And chilling with friends and my girlfriend. Who inspires you? Many of my Liquid Force teammates inspire me. They are sick! Also Andre Phillip, Aaron Hadlow, Shawn Watson, Phillip Soven, Terje Haakonsen, Travis Parker, and the boys I am snowkiting with! Who do you kite with most? Remi Meum, Sigve Botnen, Bjorn Kaupang, Claes Lunden, Morten Gjerstad and whoever else shows up. What are your goals for this season? I want to ride more rails and kickers. Try to push that a bit further. What are your goals for your snowkiting career? To stick a 900! And to inspire kids to get into snowkiting so they can raise the bar. And to be a good role model is all. What is your favorite style of snowkiting? Unhooked wakestyle hardcore stuff! Kickers and rails! Flying down hills can be fun, but scary sometimes. I am not good at it. When I get my speed suit on I can go really fast though! Are you going to go to any snowkite events this year? I am definitely going to the Snowkite Masters in Sweden. It is always a success with tons of fun! Do you compete in snowkiting? What do you think about snowkite contests? Yes, I do compete. Haven’t done too many contests yet, so I am not that 78


experienced in the contest scene. I do think contests are good for the sport, it helps it grow and they can be pretty fun. It’s a good way to meet new people and make friends. But just don’t take them too serious, have fun!

PHOTO: Oystein Kristiansen

Have you ever been injured while snowkiting? Yeah, I’ve hurt my shoulders and stuff. But the worst injury I had was when Morten Gjerstad and I went to Denmark for some kiting on water. I was exhausted from all the driving and not enough sleep, and after two hours on the water with a [previously] broken shoulder I crashed during a Front Mobe, and ended up in the Danish hospital for 5 or 6 days with a broken neck and back. That was really scary! A broken neck and back! Ouch! How long did it take to recover? Does a serious injury like that change how you kite now? Yeah it was super scary. It took me seven months to recover. Last winter I was in pretty good shape but I took it pretty easy. If I kited one day I had to take a break for a couple of days just to relax and to get my body back in shape. In a way it changed me, but I was just really unlucky, so it hasn’t affected me that much I think. Sometimes I get a bit scared and think twice before trying things. I am scared of Front Mobes for sure. I’m not doing them anymore! What are you doing this weekend? I will hit the pub and have a few beers with some mates celebrating a birthday!

What do you want to be when you grow up? I haven’t figured that out yet. Since I have been injured a lot, I have been to heaps of different medical doctors and I think many of the people in health care really suck. So in a way I want to become a physical therapist so I can help athletes recover in the best way. Someone they feel they can trust.

Anyone you want to thank or give shout-outs to? Yeah, thanks to Liquid Force, Truls O at K2, The Crew, Morten Gjerstad, Geir N, Drift, Mom & Dad, Haugastol, my brother, friends and my girlfriend Frederikke.



NEW PRODUCTS Jochum Nesler Luis Snowkite

The Luis is a new concept of snowkite with an increased effective profile for better performance and faster turning speed. Equipped with a simple bridle construction and a sophisticated 4-line setup with reliable safety to satisfy all skill levels from rookies to experts doing freestyle moves or gliding steep hillsides. With its small packing size, the Luis is the perfect companion for hiking to lonesome powder beats. Although developed for snowkiting, this kite also works for landboard or buggy terrain. Sizes: 5m, 7m and 10m Colors: Green and Orange Price*: N/A Web Link: www.jn-kites.com Buy Now: www.jn-kites.com/shop. php?cat=3&product=78

Jochum Nesler Tiger Snowkite Board

The JN TIGER is specifically designed for snowkiting with lengths of 142 and 152cm that are sufficient due to its width and straight rail. Riders with big feet won’t have to worry about toe drag. Freestylers will be happy to know they will be getting the same pop as on the water and the wide turning radius will save energy. At first, this seemed impossible on snow, but thanks to its breadth, the Tiger is perfectly for deep powder. A carefully placed layer of snakeskin makes it resistant to scratches and wear. The Tiger is a limited edition made from choice materials. Sizes: 142 / 152cm Colors: Black and Yellow Price*: N/A Web Link: www.jn-kites.com Buy Now: www.jn-kites.com/shop.php?cat=8&product=58




Firestarter Jacket d3o The Mystic Firestarter d3o Jacket is the new standard for snowkiting. Shoulder and Elbow d3o impact absorption removable elements create the necessary protection in the areas that “hurt” the most while snowkiting. The wide zippers on the front and internal structure allows you to “wear” your snowkiting harness, while only the spreader bar appears outside of the jacket. Since you will be using your harness under your jacket, and the cut is rather slimmer, if you are generally between sizes make sure you choose the bigger size for this product. Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL Colors: White, Brown Price*: $419.95 Web Link: www.live2kite.com Buy Now: www.live2kite.com/product_info. php?cPath=66&products_id=748


Firestarter Pants d3o The Mystic Firestarter Pants bring high end snow performance with d3o impact absorption (www.d3o. com). The articulated knees have the d3o impact absorption protection to reduce injuries and impact results. Pants are designed to work with all Mystic snow jackets, with pant to jacket connection! * Waterproofness: 10,000 mm * Fully taped seams * P ants to jacket connection * L asered and glued pockets with waterproof zips * Tool pocket * Articulated knees with d3o * Special zipper ventilation system Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL Colors: Light Gray/White Price*: $295.95 Web Link: www.live2kite.com Buy Now: www.live2kite.com/product_info. php?cPath=66&products_id=848 www.driftsnowkitemag.com



Solid Snowkite The “Pressureless Safety System” continues to be the most important feature of the Solid 09. In addition to the regular landing and relaunch option, the 5th Element safety line pulls down the kite’s central profile, causing the rest of the kite to collapse backwards to the ground. The flying characteristics permit a stress-free experience for newcomers and intermediate riders. The Vario Trim option allows the rider to adjust the kite to personal preferences. With its forgiving flying characteristics, wide wind range and the safety of the 5th Element, the Solid 09 provides reliability and performance. Sizes: 4m, 6m and 9m Colors: Black/white, White/green, Grey/blue and Grey/orange Price*: $1099.95, $1199.95, $1299.95 Web Link: www.northkites.com


Hadlow Signature Harness This all new 2009 signature model harness has been designed for five-time World Champion kitesurfer Aaron Hadlow. It features extreme 3D shaped load distribution plates and a 3D moulded floating pillow to follow the movement of his body. For comfort we have integrated our neoprene soft edges and Dual Foam System (DFS). The stump nose spreader bar is mounted on the new integrated slide-in bar pad system. For his special tricks we have new HPL stainless steel attachment points and an easy to grab integrated grab handle. Sizes: XS, S, M, L , XL Colors: White-red, black-pink and bronze Price*: $199 Web Link: www.prolimit.com Buy Now: info@trident.com




Hadlow Pro The new 09 signature model Hadlow Pro has been improved to drive quickly to the top of the window during a kiteloop. They’ve also improved the re-launch ability, reduced the weight, made the kite stronger and improved the bar feedback. Other features include: durable Molten Bladder, 270kg test flying lines, better bar grip and easy unhook chicken loop with swivel. The new AH Pro is the kite of choice for the advanced freestyle rider who is looking to push their level of riding. Comes complete and set up with a 5-line (default) and the HadlowPro 4-line setup* – the configuration that Aaron uses day-to-day. Sizes: 5.5m, 7m, 9m, 11m and 13m Colors: One design Price*: N/A Web Link: www.flexifoil.com Buy Now: www.flexifoil.com/retailers




Kari evaag Schib

Kari Schibevaag is an inspiration to women, and men alike, in the world of snowkiting. Her enthusiasm and talent flow from her, making the sport look like it should: fun and graceful. She recently traveled from her home in Norway to compete and place second in the world at the Snowkite Masters event at the Col du Lautaret in France. We expect to see a lot more from Kari in the future. — continued 84


By James Brown

PHOTOS: Marius Arneson



INTERVIEW STATISTICS Age 30 Height 164cm Weight 53kg Years kiting 6 Kites Ozone Skis/Boards Scratch & Line Boots Lange Harness Prolimit Pro Girl Helmet Kari Traa for Girls Clothes Kari Traa Website kariland.com

What languages do you speak? Norwegian and English Do you have any special talents besides kiting? Making food and I make hats that I sell on my website and to friends. Where were you born? Stavanger, Norway Where do you call home now? Stavanger. It’s my home town and I want to move back when I settle down. Where do you snowkite the most and what is your favorite place? Haugastøl in Norway. The best place to snowkite in the world. How did you get into snow sports? I have been a skier since I was 4-yearsold, so it’s natural for me to snowkite. How did you discover snowkiting? It was a meeting in the ski school where I was working. There were two guys who showed us snowkite pictures and soon after that I took a lesson. 86


Kari Schibevaag What other sports do you do that help with your kiting? Training in the gym, running and stretching. What is it about snowkiting that keeps you addicted? Fresh air and nature. And to be together with friends. What is your favorite style of snowkiting? Jumps. Freestyle with wakestyle moves. How many days per season do you ride? I compete on the snow and on the water a lot, and that means I never stop kiting. Describe one session, location or one moment in time that you will remember forever? It was my first time on the board on the water. I was over-powered on a 12m kite and one guy was holding me down. He put me on the board and I rode straight downwind. I hit the beach and crashed the kite into the trees. But I was really happy to be on the board so I didn’t mind that the kite had crashed. What improvements to gear would you like to see? More stuff for girls. What are you doing when you aren’t snowkiting? I am making hats, training, writing for my website www.kariland.com, working to get money, watching television, etc. What riders inspire you? Bjørn Kaupang.

PHOTO: Marius Arneson What are your goals for this season? I want to learn some new freestyle moves. Travel a lot and see new places. But the most important is to have fun. What moves are you working on? To get more power in the moves that I do know and learn more handle passes. What are your goals for your snowkiting career? Have fun and be better at freestyle.

Do you have any general thoughts about contests/events? It’s fun to meet a lot of people. I just hope there will be more girls so we can be taken more serious. What would you change about contests? More time for the girls and the same prize money like the men get. — continued www.driftsnowkitemag.com


INTERVIEW What can we learn from other board sports that will help snowkiting? Jumps from wakeboarding. Look at the wave surfers for other ideas. What challenges do you see facing the snowkite industry? We need to make it more interesting for the good riders. What do you want to do when you grow up? I don’t know yet. Something with sports. I have 6 years at the University and I want to be involved in snowkiting. Have you ever been injured while snowkiting? Any close calls? No, only some hard landings where I couldn’t move the next day. Do you kite on water also? Yes, I ride a lot. Who would you like to thank? My mother and father and my brothers.. and Marius for helping with my website. Who are your sponsors? Ozone, Kari Traa, Seabrokers group, Telenor, Fluid and Olden. What kites do you use the most on snow? Ozone Instinct inflatables for freestyle and Ozone Manta foils for trips. How much time do you spend in Norway in the winter? As much as I can. I was here at Haugastol 3 weeks already before the end of January. What tips do you have for beginners or intermediates wanting to progress? Take a lesson and get started! 88


Kari Schibevaag

t h e fr e s h o t d e t ic d d I’ m a And to be . re u t a n d a ir a n h fr ie n d s . it w r e h t e g to

PHOTO: Marius Arneson




By Ken Lucas


nformal “safety” meetings held in the parking lot can provide a great opportunity to share information with our buddies and newcomers alike. Let me share with you some of the info that has disseminated during these meetings. Some background knowledge of snowkiting and of kite surfing shows us that the safety aspect of these 10-yearold sports are continually evolving. Most of the safety guidelines in our sport were borrowed from other action sports. For example; it makes sense to wear helmets when we snowkite since we wear them for snowboarding and mountain biking. However, many of the safety guidelines and safety systems built into kites were developed as a direct result of kite accidents and tragedies around the world. So, please keep in mind that the safety systems on our kites and the safety guidelines mentioned here were developed literally to save our lives—so we don’t become a statistic. Helmet: Do we really need to discuss this? Consider that the leading cause of deaths involving kiting have been as a result of a head injury. It doesn’t take much force to inflict major debilitating damage to your brain. Don’t let light wind or deep powder fool you into thinking that you don’t need a helmet. Wind can change in an instant and snow depth varies.

PHOTO: Andrew McGarry 90


Preflight Inspection: Airplane pilots do it. Paraglider pilots do it. Yes, snowkiters need to do it. This check involves your kite, your lines, your control system (bar and safety release mechanism), and

your harness. If you see worn parts (or a tear in your kite), immediately repair or replace. Note: A broken line can potentially send your kite into an out-ofcontrol spiral with you attached. Wind direction: Many of us kite on water and we have learned of the dangers of kiting in directly on-shore winds. So, keep in mind that most snowkiting is done in a similar situation where there are obstacles downwind of us. Stay a safe distance upwind of all obstacles or go downwind of them.

scenario. When we are out riding on a perfect day with the sun shining, good wind, and powder, it puts our minds in “La La land.” Our endorphins have released and we truly are high. But, we must keep our minds focused on our surroundings while we are “in the zone.” Then stay especially focused when you are landing and launching.

Are you a newbie? If you are a newcomer to snowkiting, do not be deceived if you notice an experienced kiter setting up their gear in a nonchalant manner. They are processing a lot of Buddy system: At the current time information from the moment they drive snowkiters do not regularly utilize the up until they launch their kite. They buddy system. At may be thinking... u o y if d e iv a recent snowkite What is the wind ce o n o t b e d e ri e n c e d k it e r D festival it was direction? Is the ic e a n e x p e e a r in a t o n suggested that weather changing? g u p t h e ir g r in t t e s e because of the What downwind a la n t m a n n h c n o n remoteness of obstacles are there? the event that How will I get back a buddy system be implemented. At a if something goes wrong? There are minimum, do not kite alone. Make sure many things to consider that you may your friends can see you and you can not be aware of. Don’t be afraid to ask see them. Do not kite further away from experienced kiters what to look out for. your car or base camp than you are willing to walk. Are you experienced? Experienced kiters often become lulled into a feeling Hang tight: Keep in mind that bulky of security when they have not had winter clothes can interfere with anything go wrong lately or have never tightening down our harnesses. It is had an accident or close call in the past. important to fully secure your harness In the paragliding world, their statistics to keep it from coming loose. A possible over many years revealed that it was scenario that can occur is that your the most experienced pilots who were spreader bar releases from one side, involved in accidents more often than causing you to get pulled from one side beginners. And it was all because of the and then possibly be out of reach of your mindset mentioned above. So, let’s learn safety releases. from their mistakes and stay alert. Mindset: A recent tragic kitesurfing accident reminded us all of the following

Play safe, play hard, have FUN, and see you at the next safety meeting. www.driftsnowkitemag.com




Go to www.StratusMediaSolutions.com for more information. www.driftsnowkitemag.com


3PHOTO: Gustav Schmiege 94


Racers Ready! The past, present and future of snowkite racing

bright future. When kite racing was first considered for the water, it was thought to be way too dangerous to be in close and competitive quarters but now it is completely viable. This year, for the first time, there will be a world championship of water kite racing in the San Francisco Bay and there have already been two National Championships there. This speaks to the possibilities of racing on the snow in the future.

-2-1 GO By Chip Wasson

For centuries racing has provided a measurement for mankind. Humans have raced in every imaginable way and this measurement against fellow competitors has given way to advancement in techniques and technology throughout history.

Kiteboard racing has become quite popular among enthusiasts in the last 4 to 5 years. Racing has provided a definite competitive platform in a sport that has been historically subjective in judge freestyle competitions. The race course represents an even playing field for competitors because there is only one definite winner and that concept alone is quite compelling. Racing kiteboards on the water is pretty amazing in that it works well and kites do not become completely entangled. Snowkiting has an added appeal because courses can be set on 3-dimensional terrain and therefore offers much in terms of the possibilities. There have already been a number of race events on the snow and it is obvious that snowkite racing has a

Types of Races

Racing on the snow has taken the form of boarder cross, course racing, and cross-country. Thus far, people have participated in these events but I think we are only at the beginning of people dialing in to asserting themselves competitively to push the limits. For someone who might be interested in honing their racing skills, there is much to consider. Equipment, course knowledge, and rule knowledge are important but at the outset familiarity with the definition of boarder cross, course racing and cross country is necessary. Let me explain.

Course Racing

Course racing has become the most popular on the water and will surely be popular on the snow. In a course race the course consists of any combination of upwind, downwind and reaching legs. Traditionally, a course race begins with an upwind start. There is a time clock

— continued




PHOTO: Gustav Schmiege


Racers Ready! and the race committee displays a series of sounds and signals (flags) to indicate the time that counts down to the start when the clock hits zero. It is always an amazing sight to see the beginning of any upwind start as all of the competitors try to hit the line at full speed, pinching upwind as the clock hits zero. A course race tends to test the riders abilities on all points, i.e. upwind, downwind, and reaching. In a day, competitors will do 3 to 5 course races and scores will be calculated in the low point system and the competitor with the fewest points wins.

that the riders need to jump over before rounding each jibe mark on the way to the finish. Boarder cross is a real crowd pleaser and lends itself to the rider that is willing to be aggressive and unafraid of potential crashes.

-2-1 GO Boarder Cross

Boarder Cross is a very exciting racing format with tight competition, speed and close maneuvering. The competition is set up in an elimination format with 5 to 10 competitors in each heat. The first 4 or 5 racers in a heat to cross the finish line advance to the next round until a final heat is assembled. The final group then races using the low point system to generate the final placings. A boarder cross course is normally a series of 4 to 6 downwind reaching legs creating a zigzagging course. The start is a downwind reach that is timed by a sequence where the competitors attempt to cross the line when the clock hits zero. As the riders cross the start line and head towards the first jibe mark, there is always anticipation of whole fleet trying to squeeze around the first jibe mark. The following legs consist of obstructions


Cross-country (or long distance) is a format in snowkiting that can take on some real different structures. The crosscountry competitor with backcountry knowledge and an understanding of how wind flows around the contours of the terrain will do well. In one format, racers start at intervals and are required to go from point to point getting a ticket proving that they reached all points along the course and are measured on their overall time required to complete the course. Another format may be a fleet start where everyone starts at the same time and does a number of laps on a long course or simply does a single lap on a course that is very long. Either of these types of racing is physically demanding and favors the person who is in good condition and is able to squeeze as much speed and angle out of their situation as possible.

Combining Skills

I can see a world snowkite race championship consisting of course racing, boarder cross, and crosscountry resulting in a cumulative score. — continued www.driftsnowkitemag.com


Racers Ready! Regardless of what type of racing you are doing there are a few things that will help your racing tremendously. Equipment, preparation and rules are key to obtaining a good result. Many racers race for fun and do not focus on these things so if you can achieve a high level in these areas you will be ahead of much of the fleet immediately. The following tips will surely help you to take the lead.

Helpful Tips Equipment

Equipment is probably one of, if not the most important element of your racing efforts. Your equipment needs to fit the type of racing that you are doing. For example, you might want to use a quicker inflatable kite for boarder cross that allows you to act fast and maneuver quickly. For cross country, one might be well suited to use a ram air foil as it is a bit more agile in varying wind conditions which a long course will surely contain. In a course race, you might consider the kite that enables you to go upwind best and has the most horsepower to get you off of the line in a congested start situation. Your board or

skis should be tuned to perfection with sharp edges and new wax that is most appropriate for the snow and weather conditions. Your harness and boots should be comfortable for extended periods so that discomfort does not distract you from your objectives. Your clothing should be comfortable and provide you with the right body temperature once you are in the thick of the race. Also, your eyewear should stay clear and not likely to fog as this will simply be another thing to distract you from your focus on winning. Finally, a watch is imperative and one will never do well hoping to get the timing right by luck or following others. Remember, when the start sequence begins, you are racing, positioning yourself amongst your competition and setting up to hit the favored end of the line at speed when the clock hits zero is critical. There is nothing worse than starting at the back of the pack sucking up everyone’s bad air on the way to the first mark. These things seem small but when you add them up, they give you a feeling that you are fundamentally ready so you can focus on strategy and riding fast. — continued



Demo the latest gear! Established in 2003, Kite Utah is the premier snowkite instruction and They have guiding business in Utah and possibly the US. iting’s Mecca worked tirelessly to develop Skyline into snowk important ped and through this pioneering effort have develo ured and relationships with the Forest Service. A fully ins e a permitted business (the only school to hav e permit for Strawberry & Skyline), not only wer they one of the first snowkite schools, they t have a comprehensive instruction program tha . has taught most of the best snowkiters around l get Located at the base of Skyline, Kite Utah wil you snowkiting safely and properly.

Don’t want to haul your gear across country, Kite Utah can provide the latest and greatest snowkiting gear to rent or demo. Book your first lesson or an advanced clinic with Kite Utah online at www.kiteutah.com. essons Flight L

e v a D ’ n i t Drif


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Racers Ready! Preparation

Preparedness comes in the form of your equipment but goes beyond that. It is important to know the course well. You need to know which way to go around the marks (port or starboard), how many laps to do, and how to finish (upwind or downwind). Any racer needs to know what the sound and visual sequence is for the start. This means to know what flags the committee is raising in conjunction with what sounds they are making. It is also important to figure out which end of the start line you want to start on or which end of the line is favored. An overall plan and approach to any race is vital as well. Try to figure out what you want to do from the time the sequence starts to the time you finish. You need to think about how you want to manage the entire course and what will get you to the finish as fast as possible. Your plan will inevitably change during a race but it gives you a framework within which to work. Know your competition and how they stack up against you so you can either cover them or stay away from them, whichever serves you better.


Knowledge of basic rules is again vital. Knowing the rules can keep you out of trouble and will allow you to finish a race without having fouled another competitor. Two major basic rules for 100


right of way are port/starboard and windward/leeward. Port/starboard means that the person who is on starboard (right hand forward) has the right of way no matter what. The person on port (left hand forward) has no rights in any crossing situation. The windward/ leeward rule simply says that the upwind rider must stay clear of the downwind rider in all situations especially when passing. As racing gets more serious and money is on the line, rules equal money and if you don’t know the rules you are going to lose the race and lose the money. It is also never fun to be protested against or disqualified (DSQ).


The Future

The future of snowkite racing is bright and will surely become more intense as the sport grows and more people participate. Whether you are serious about racing or are just out there to compete with friends, it is exhilarating and fulfilling. It is always fun to be at the bar while everyone reflects back to certain points and situations of the race. This post race banter creates great camaraderie and sets the stage for the next race to see if you can improve your position. We all have an innate desire to compete and it is a great feeling of accomplishment to beat your fellow competitors. One thing is for sure, there is no question about the outcome, there is only one first place in racing.

-2-1 GO PHOTO: Kim Kern www.driftsnowkitemag.com


SNOWKITE BOARD BATTLE By James Brown and Anton Rainold


arlier this winter we found 12 snowkite-specific snowboards available on the market. We received and tested the following 4 of those 12 boards. The following reviews were done primarily by myself and Anton Rainold from Colorado Kiteforce. In the future we plan to have more complete head-to-head testing of all available boards using a team of riders with various skills, sizes and experience so you can make informed buying decisions. Go to the Kite Lab section of the website for updates and other gear reviews.



KITE LAB Air Evolution Air F 158 DESCRIPTION The Air Evolution brand has been quietly and passionately developing snowkite equipment for many years. I saw an early version of this refined board design when Damien Richard (owner and designer) and Romain Fabretti (4x world champion) came to the USA for the first Red Bull Kite Freeze. I was excited to test this board finally. TEST RESULTS Special features include a shallow sidecut on the heel edge and cut outs on both heel side tips to allow snow to release off the back rather than build up on the tail. My first day on the board was also my first day of the snowkite season. The snowpack was three-week-old hardpack with exposed areas of rock and sage brush. I was getting comfortable on a new kite as well and didn’t even have to think about the board. The board felt completely smooth and natural while on edge or transitioning from edge to edge. I have a fairly small foot so I prefer a board in this width, especially for hardpack riding where incompatibilities between boot size versus board width really show up. The board is light weight and has lively pop which is what I demand from a good freestyle board.

SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer: Air Evolution Model: Air F 158 Size: 158cm Dimensions: Heel sidecut-12m, Toe-8m Weight: 2.1kg Online Info: www.airevolution.com MSRP: 465.00 EUR Buy Now: www.airevolution-snowkite. com/shop/index.php RATINGS Durability I rode it in early season rocky conditions and it came out unscathed except for a hint of a spot where it hit a rock, but it didn’t gouge the base at all. Function Feels completely smooth and natural while on edge or transitions and has lively pop. It would be too short for deep powder days unless you are a small rider. Quality Clean finish and pleasant aftertaste! Appearance


Overall Impression Great snowkite-specific board for allaround riding. Conclusion A perfect board for anyone that wants a natural feeling board with snowkitespecific features like a shallow heel edge sidecut and the lively pop that you would expect from a high quality “standard” freestyle snowboard. www.driftsnowkitemag.com


KITE LAB Decosse Tantrum 159 DESCRIPTION The Tantrum was designed to fulfill the needs of the rider that wants the best of both worlds—snowkiting and traditional downhill snowboarding performance. TEST RESULTS The stance and sidecut is centered which makes a big difference for snowkiting equally in both directions and for park and pipe riding at a resort. The sidecut is somewhere between the aggressive cut of a fast turning slalom board and that of the snowkitespecific generation. Both heel and toeside sidecuts are equal. There are many mounting options if you want to move your bindings back for an alpine stance. I was able to ride the prototype of the board in Alaska where we did an equal amount of snowkiting and downhill snowboarding with the aid of snowmobiles to log in a lot of runs. I kept the bindings set up centered and ducked out no matter what kind of riding we were doing and it felt natural and comfortable doing both. The more aggressive side cut does make it harder to hold a straight tack especially at high speed and long sessions. On the other hand I liked 104


the quick turning and snappy pop for loading up for powered jumps. I also liked it for getting up hills. SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer: Decosse Model: Tantrum Size: 159cm Online Info: www.decossecustoms.com MSRP: $475 Buy Now: www.decossecustoms.com RATINGS Durability Premium materials and bomber construction. Function Edges quickly and has lively pop, but takes some effort if you are mowing the lawn on long tacks for a long time. Quality Takes a beating and holds up to the punishment Appearance Clean with catchy graphics Overall Impression Lively fun all-around board Conclusion Excels at responsive turning and snappy pop for powered freestyle moves. It will be more work on your thighs to hold an edge for long tacks on hard pack snow and keeping the tip up in deep powder. This is a lively freestyle snowboard that will be work equally well at the ski resort and for snowkiting.

Nobile Remi Pro DESCRIPTION The Remi Pro comes in three sizes. The 163cm has a little more sidecut radius and is designed for larger riders, powder riding or downhill snowboarding. The 157cm and 148cm are pure snowkite boards with less sidecut. The 157 is the choice of Remi for freestyle kiting, while the 148 caters to women and smaller riders.

SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer: Nobile Model: Remi Pro Size: 157cm Online Info: www.nobilekiteboarding.com MSRP: $449 / €325 Buy Now: www.nobilekiteboarding.com

TEST RESULTS We tested the 157cm board on mostly groomed and windblown snow. My first session with the board was after a long day of riding when my thighs were fatigued. I went out expecting to last about five minutes on the tracked out snow, but I was able to keep riding for a long time. This was my first experience with reduced sidecut. With traditional sidecut the board tends to carve upwind instead of letting you hold a continuous straight tack. The shallow sidecut of this board helps you hold a straight tack without fighting it. This translates directly to less thigh fatigue, longer sessions and stability at high speeds. Now, with every good thing it seems there is a trade-off. I found that it lacked the pop that I am used to for powered load and pop jumps. So you have to rely on the kite for lift, or have some softer snow to edge into.

Function Good overall snowkite board, but lacks the promised pop of a traditional snowboard.

RATINGS Durability Bomber construction

Quality Top quality construction Appearance Graphics are a little depressing looking, but actually super interesting if you study them—totally unique! Overall Impression The board performs as expected but lacks the edge-based pop that I’d prefer. Conclusion A great snowkite board for a smooth, easy ride and marathon sessions. Having a sidecut radius of 20m helps so you aren’t constantly being forced upwind all the time. I suggest trying out a snowkite-specific board like this if you are into snowkiting and have only used a traditional downhill board.



KITE LAB Twisted Velocity 164 DESCRIPTION We’ve dedicated two full pages to this board because it is so radically different from anything on the market and the results were interesting and mixed. The Twisted Velocity board is a new “twist” on a recent phenomenon in snowboard design, specifically altered for the needs of snowkiters. The camber is reversed so the center of the board is the only part that touches when set on a flat surface. It also has reverse sidecut so the middle of the board between your feet is wider than at the tips. These extreme modifications combine with a longer than average length and blunt tips to create a whole different snowkite experience. TEST RESULTS My first test session with the board was in early season hardpack conditions. I was initially skeptical until I got to use it in deeper snow where it excels. An informal phone interview from Anton Rainold about it’s abilities at speed also had me intrigued about further testing of this board. Hardpack: The first thing I noticed was that it felt entirely foreign compared to a traditional snowboard. It has a loose 106


feel. If you’ve ridden a wakeskate or wakeboard without fins, then you know what I mean. It is fun and free, but takes some adjusting and finesse. The first major difference I noticed was that as soon as I’d come off the heel side edge and flatten the board I would fall on my face. It took me a bit to figure out that the toeside edge was catching, causing the board to shoot to the side and back behind me. After this little bit of analysis I realized that I just needed to adjust to a more relaxed stance with weight more on the tail. In light of this new stance, I can see how this would actually be a benefit to beginners and surfers. Beginners always have a tendency to lean back and surfers have trained themselves to put weight on the tail of the board and steer with their front foot. Anton also told me that teaching students on this board has been great. Jumping: Jumping from a hardpack surface was a challenge. The ability to spring off the tail using flex and edging like you would with traditional snowboard is gone since there is no camber or sidecut. Instead you must rely more on keeping the board centered on edge and use the lift of the kite and/or a kicker to boost off the ground. Powder: The board is fantastic in powder. It is 164cm long, but not so long that it becomes heavy and difficult to throw around. Most other powder boards are traditionally long, heavy and some

specialty boards have split tails which wouldn’t work so great for snowkiting. The Velocity never has problems with the tip diving under the snow. In fact, I’ve used it in some very challenging conditions where visibility was near whiteout with inconsistent wind-scoured slopes that would change from hard pack ridges to powder and back again on each tack. The board just cruised right over all the crud, while my friends on traditional boards were digging in their tips and crashing. In perfect deep powder conditions it was a dream. The thigh fatigue of trying to keep the tip up on a 158cm traditional board is nonexistent. Even though I wanted other people to ride the board, I was hesitant to switch with them because the Velocity is so easy to ride in those conditions. Speed: Anton called me up the other day and gave me a little shock when he said that the Velocity was great at high speed. He had a day out on Dillon Reservoir in Colorado where he runs his school. He was on a 14m kite with 20mph plus winds and was screaming across the lake. He said that the board rode smoothly and didn’t have to fight that twitchy feeling of a traditional board that is constantly trying to carve upwind. He was able to just relax and go as fast as he wanted comfortably.

SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer: Twisted Model: Velocity Size: 164cm Dimensions: Waist Width - 30cm Online Info: www.twistedkiteboards.com MSRP: $450USD Buy Now: www.twistedkiteboards.com RATINGS Durability Quality materials with improvements in the molding process make quality board that will last. Function A specialty board that excels in some areas and requires adjustment in others. Quality A sintered base and solid wood core make it a tough board. Appearance Looks decent up close in person, but could use some spicing up in the graphics department. Overall A fun all-around board for many conditions and many riders. Conclusion The Velocity is fantastic in powder, general freeriding and at high speed. A good option for beginning snowboarders and surfers, and has a fun, loose feeling. I definitely want one for powder and am excited to try it at high speed.



f o e c n a t r The Impo

s e t i K r Traine

ss m a n B y D a v e G ro

The key to being a proficient kiter is developing and maintaining “kite feel�. This skill is the emotional and physical bond a good kiter has with the kite they are controlling. It is a skill that is easily acquired, but one that requires not only some initial learning, but also frequent maintenance. A small, packable trainer kite is the perfect tool for the job and should not only be the first kite purchase a would-be snowkiter makes, but should also be something that ALL kiters should have and use regularly. A trainer kite is a training tool. A good one flies very similarly to how its bigger siblings fly, but without any of the consequences that a stupid mistake might have. Trainer kites help snowkiters learn about turning speed, kite movement, and bar response. They provide direct and safe feedback about a mistake providing a great opportunity to correct the error and build an understanding of what to do to avoid the error in the future.



PHOTO: Dave Grossman

Good trainer kites are built to take repeated crashes. Free from worrying about hurting the kite from a crash, kiters can push the limits and try stuff that they wouldn’t try with their bigger kites. This is the essence of practice and one of the things that makes trainer kites so important for even the most proficient kiters. If you

are in the market for a new trainer, look for one with a 3rd line system that not only aids in solo relaunch of the kite, but also allows for some breaking much like a depowerable kite does.

The kite provides a focal point for observing the wind. It allows you to see and feel and hear the wind. This quickly provides a refined awareness of the small lulls and gusts that affect the kite and how it flies.

These durable, pint-sized kites can still pack a punch in high winds and can be powerful enough to provide a ride in strong wind conditions. Don’t let their diminutive size fool you. Getting dragged by a trainer will bruise more than your ego! But their simple, intuitive safety system make a real thrashing a very difficult thing to suffer with a trainer kite.

If you haven’t flown your trainer in a while, dig it out of the bottom of your gear closet and head down to the local soccer field, park, or pasture and do some training. They are small enough that they fit easily in a desk drawer, backpack and definitely in our car. I have one stashed under my car seat for those “emergency kite-fix” sessions. It makes for a perfect lunch break from work or stress reliever from modern chaos and the next time you get to fly your big kites, you will be better, more tuned into the kite and will probably have more fun.

When your snowkite days aren’t as often as you would like, a trainer kite will help you regain some of the almost zen-like connection a day in the wind will provide.




Information soon at KiteBrigade.com.