Snowkiting: Putting our favorite sport on a whole new level
When Matt was still in high school, he once saw someone flying a kite on a beach and thought it looked like fun. That same day, he took all the money saved from his summer jobs and ordered a used kite online. We’ve now been friends for a long time, and I still find that story super inspiring. Because from that day on, his passion for kites started to grow. He then started kiteboarding on the water, and at one point, switched to snow. Matt then introduced me to kiteboarding on the water, which I thought was a lot of fun, and one winter's day, we tried it on snow. I love trying new things, and since it combines skiing, (one of my favorite sports), with a kite (which was something new to me), I was really curious to try it.
Lake Winnebago, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, USA
Instead of going downhill, you use the wind to carry you anywhere you want
Matt knows a lot about snowkiting. I basically learned everything from him, which is great. It is essentially just as it sounds; you get on your skis and find some snow. But instead of going down the hill, as you would normally do, you use the wind to carry you anywhere you want. The kites are designed specifically for this sport, so you have a lot more control over speed and direction. You can compare it to sailing, I think. There isn’t anything like this in the world. For me, it’s a thrill but still a bit unnatural. Matt is a pro by now, and I’m still learning. I always find it a bit difficult to handle the kite because it requires a completely new set of skills. Now, a few years into learning and training, I feel more and more comfortable competing in races with Matt.
Why wind is so crucial for snowkiting
Six years ago, Keith, a friend of ours, Matt, and I had some snow on the ground one day as well as a bit of wind. Keith was interested in trying snowkiting. So we went inside, got all the gear and clothing, and when we were finally ready, the wind suddenly died. We never actually got to lift the kites in the air! So, Keith, if you’re reading this, let’s give it another shot one day!
The cool thing about snowkiting is that you can do it on any terrain. It doesn’t actually matter; as long as you have the gear, snow/ice and some wind. The best training for me was that one day on this vast frozen lake in Wisconsin.
Spray Lakes, Alberta, Canada
Most important things for snowkiting
Weather conditions are the most important thing to keep in mind. Being able to go out is the most significant thing. Apart from that, the right gear and proper clothing are the next steps. Obviously, you need a kite and skis or a board. Kites are very expensive, but buying a good one is worth the money in most cases. Choosing the right clothing is of paramount importance because you’re really working up a sweat. Imagine being far out in nature and you’re not protected against the cold and the wind. Having proper windproof gear will absolutely help you to stay warm.
For training and the races, we usually wear GORE-TEX engineered clothing such as Arc’teryx pants (Sabre) & shell jackets (Sphene). Also, some mid-layers for extra warmth are never a bad idea. Since GORE-TEX gear is the best for all outdoor activities, we never really thought about getting anything other than that. Furthermore, the GORE-TEX DaKine gloves are crucial, so our hands don’t freeze. We love the breathability of our clothing, and it keeps us dry and warm throughout the races.
Red Bull Ragnarok Event: Hardangervidda Plateau, Norway
I’m Lachlan and with my friend Matt, we have a passion for snowkiting. We both live in the States, but in different cities. I’m from Seattle but now live on the east coast in Delaware, near the Gore headquarters. Matt is from Boston but lives in Chicago now. We both met working for GORE-TEX and now share the same passion for snowkiting. What we love about working for GORE-TEX, besides the location, which provides a lot of activities you can do nearby, is that it has an amazing culture of adventurers and like-minded individuals. That’s why some of our strongest friendships are from our time here.
Want to read more exciting stories like this? We collected every story of the winners of the GORE-TEX Tested for Life Tryouts Challenge for you to enjoy right here!