Snowkites take to Mille Lacs Lake in March to harness the wind
GARRISON - On March 6-8, the 11th annual Kite Crossing on Mille Lacs Lake will draw top snowkiting athletes from around the world. Organizers said the event brings in snowkiters who want to tackle one of the most challenging snowkite endurance races.
GARRISON - On March 6-8, the 11th annual Kite Crossing on Mille Lacs Lake will draw top snowkiting athletes from around the world.
Organizers said the event brings in snowkiters who want to tackle one of the most challenging snowkite endurance races.
"Over the past 11 years, the Kite Crossing on Mille Lacs has attracted the world's best male and female snowkite athletes to compete in its grueling 28-mile race across the frozen expanse of Lake Mille Lacs," organizers reported. "Races are on either a wakeboard type board and regular alpine skis, with a large kite harnessed to the riders for wind power."
Several events are planned on the Mille Lacs Lake from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the weekend of March 6 and March 7 and March 8.
"As the country's premier snowkite event, the lake will come alive with kites with riders mainly from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Canada and around the U.S. Minnesota has the largest and most active snowkite community in the nation, competing in an event that is one of the most visually spectacular events in the state," organizers stated in a news release. "Besides two 14-mile Kite Crossing legs of Lake Mille Lacs that define this event, over 75 participants will also compete in free-style and shorter sprint races."
Previous champions are expected to attend, including Denis Foo Kune, Minneapolis, a team rider for kite manufacturer Slingshot Sports and a multi-year Kite Crossing snowboard category champion. Olympic downhill ski racer Joe Levins of White Bear Lake and 2005 and 2006 Kite Crossing champion is also expected, along with Jeff Cole, a multi-year champion from Minnetonka. Bob Evans, the 1997 Ice and Snow Surfing World Champion and nine-time inland Lake Yachting Association champion from Excelsior, is expected. Last year's champions: Marty Roy, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and Kate Perkins, Breezy Point, who took the top honors in the ski events; Adam Burggraff, Rogers, and Vicky Hanson, Crosslake, who were first-place finishers in the snowboard races, should be on hand to defend their titles. The top junior/youth finisher in 2014 was Pete Nierenhausen from Brainerd.
The sport started in Minnesota in the 1980s. The first Kite Crossing was in 2004. Mille Lacs Lake is 14 miles wide and 20 miles long.
After 20 years of windsurfing crossing on Mille Lacs Lake, Minneapolis-based event organizer Fleet 8's Michael Fox had the idea to attempt the crossing during the winter through snowkiting.
Today, organizers reported, it is the longest running snowkite event in the country and the longest snowkite endurance race. The Kite Crossing reported there are 500 to 600 snowkiters in the state.
There is no charge for spectators.
"In addition to viewing this adventure sport close-up on Lake Mille Lacs, spectators will enjoy one of the most visually exciting sports in existence with 75 large multi-colored kite sales racing across the lake."
A welcome reception with live music is planned for competitors and families on March 6. Racing, events and large bonfire are planned for March 7 with an awards dinner party that night. More competition is planned March 8.
"We are excited about showcasing the top snowkiters in this dynamic sport, as each year more excitement is generated around Mille Lacs Kite Crossing," Fox said. "The visual aspect of snowkiting is unmatched in other sports and the riders can reach speeds up to 30 mph."
Sponsors include Red Bull, Dynamik Kiteboarding, Deerwood Bank Garrison, HQ kites, Mille Lacs Messenger, Best Kites, Slingshot, Switchblade, Garrison Commercial Club, Excelsior Brewing, Cabrinha, Sociable Cider Werks, Garrison Inn & Suites.