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2019 Mille Lacs Kite Crossing competition sets sail March 1-3

In this file photo, a snowkiter on a snowboard sails across Mille Lacs Lake. Submitted photo1 / 4
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In this file photo, a snowkiter on a snowboard sails across Mille Lacs Lake. Submitted photo3 / 4
In this file photo, a snowkiter on skies sails across Mille Lacs Lake. Submitted photo4 / 4

GARRISON—The 2019 Mille Lacs Kite Crossing, with a special celebration of its 15th anniversary, will take place 10 a.m.-4 p.m. March 1-3 on Mille Lacs Lake at Garrison.

Over the past 14 years, the Kite Crossing on Mille Lacs has attracted snow kiters to compete in a 28-mile race across the frozen expanse of Mille Lacs Lake. Races are on either a snowboard or regular alpine skis, with a large kite (as a sail) harnessed to the riders for wind power, reaching speeds up to 30 mph.

The three-day event will also feature freestyle, jumping and racing events as well as various festival social activities.

Kites and riders from 14 states will compete, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Maryland, Illinois, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Colorado and Washington, D.C., and Canada. The sport of snowkiting started in Minnesota in the late 1990s and Minnesota has the largest and most active snowkite community in the nation with over 600 riders.

Several snowkiting practice races will be in the Twin Cities on Lake Minnetonka and White Bear Lake in January and February. The kite crossing on Mille Lacs Lake is the longest-running snow kite event in the country, and the longest-distance snowkite endurance race in the U.S.

In addition to the 28-mile kite crossing (two 14-mile legs out and back), over 100 participants will also compete in freestyle events and shorter sprint races. Previous champions from around the country are expected to return to try to regain their titles, including Michael Kratochwill of White Bear Lake, Denis Foo Kune of Minneapolis, Jeff Cole of Minnetonka, Chris Krug of North Conway, N.H., Rob Evans of Excelsior, and Peter Nierenhausen and Nick Nierenhausen, both of Crosslake.

There is no charge for spectators and there is access to drive onto the Mille Lacs Lake ice. For the competitors and families, there will be a welcome reception with live music Friday night, racing, events and large bonfires during the day on the lake Saturday and a dinner awards party that evening, and more competition Sunday.

First-place finishers of the six competition categories from 2018 Kite Crossing will be competing again. They are: Krug in men's ski; Lizzy Foo Kune of Rochester in women's ski; Jeremy Jones of Brainerd in men's snowboard; Leah Hiniker of Minneapolis in women's snowboard; Patrick Levins of White Bear Lake in youth ski; and Peter Nierenhausen of Crosslake in youth snowboard.