Guest Author - Carol Viau
Most people have probably not heard of kite skiing. Over the last several years it has risen in popularity as not only a new sport, but as a mode of transportation for other sports.
It seems that kite skiing has become an extension of paragliding and kite surfing. When starting any of these sports, the beginner’s lessons are quite similar. Ideally, a person would start by hiring an instructor for a series of lessons. The student is taught how to unpack and pack the kite, or “wing” and then is advised on how to operate it while standing on the ground. Initial items learned would include how to change direction and how to slow down. Standing on the ground gives the student a chance to learn without the consequence of crashing. If it is particularly windy, the instructor might even have the student kneel down while learning to operate the wing, to prevent from getting dragged around by it.
The next step for the student is to learn how to take flight. A paragliding student will learn to do a short take off and quickly land, without getting too high in the air. A kite surfing student may have an instructor holding them up in the water, giving directions on how to properly catch the wind and start surfing. Similarly for the kite skier student, learning how to stop and go are the most important lessons. The latter two have the added challenge of surfing and skiing, so one had better have good skills in those sports before adding a kite to the mix.
The kite skier is looking for valleys or relatively flat terrain for good kiting conditions. Anything less could be dangerous. Hazards for kite skiers to watch out for include; large trees, power lines, or significantly variable terrain. Getting a kite stuck in trees is no fun; they can be hard to get out and will likely be damaged. Kites, or wings, are generally worth thousands of dollars. Power lines can cause severe injury or death if a wing gets tangled up in them and leaves the participant hanging. Variable terrain is challenging as kite skiers can be moving very fast and managing obstacles may be too hard to do while operating a wing.
One additional plus for kite skiers is that kiting is a new resource that they can use to access remote terrain at a quicker pace. Whether they want to ski or just climb a remote mountain, kite skiing allows them to travel the glaciers and to get to a base camp at a faster speed than they usually could. They are even able to tow their sled laden with gear while kiting. Alaska is one example of ideal terrain for this use.
While kite skiing might always be a fringe sport, chances are paragliding and kite surfing will be viewed in the same light. If this is your first time learning about kite skiing, share this web page with your friends so you can all be on the cutting edge of winter sports news!