Snow kiteboarding 101
■ Cost: Equipment includes a kite, a board or skis and a harness. With used gear, that may bring an entry cost to $500 to $900. With new gear, it may cost $1,000 or $1,600. Really big kites may be nearly $2,000. A trainer kite may cost $120.
An old snowboard or old set of skis will do. Good bindings are a must, but Mike Kratochwill, owner of Lakes Area Kiting and Windsurfing Advisory (LAKAWA), said gear stashed in the attic works.
“But you don’t have to invest dollars into your feet but on the kite, that’s your power source. Your feet are the turning source, the rudder.”
A number of people have three kites and a few boards, but weekend warriors may only need one kite. There are apps for smartphones, so kiteboarders can log their rides and see their paths on maps.
■ Tips: Start with a smaller kite and work up. Kites sizes are based on the rider’s weight, ability and wind speed, with snow depth a contributing factor. A person weighing 170 to 180 pounds, may get a 12-square-meter kite, equal to about 129 square feet, costing $1,500 to $1,800.
■ Speed: Some like the speed, adrenalin factor and the 20- to 35-foot jumps. Others may find wind blowing more than 40 mph is too sketchy. A more relaxing ride with a breeze of 10 to 30 mph may provide for less intense spins, twirls and floaty jumps.
While the aerial component is fun and may get the most attention, Kratochwill said it’s a minority of the sport, perhaps less than 10 percent. Others, he said, are just looking to have a good time, not break themselves and still get to work in one piece on Monday morning.
Kiteboarding websites recommend beginners learn to fly a two-line kite first and not trying anything more than 15 mph winds.
■ Kite Crossing event on Mille Lacs: Mike Fox was critical in getting the annual Mille Lacs Lake event under way, along with the several volunteers, Kratochwill said. For participants, the event costs $30 and includes a dinner and T-shirt.
Sources: Lakes Area Kiting and Windsurfing and snow kiteboarding websites.