How to start snowkiting
Want to try snowkiting this winter? Here's everything you need to know
“All you need is snow and a little wind,” I’m told.
Who knew? As a downhill skier, I used to look at acres of light, fluffy snow coating frozen lakes as a waste—all that untrackable powder. But I was wrong. Harness those pesky winter gusts with a kite and skis, a.k.a. snowkiting, and all that flatland suddenly becomes an unlimited powder playground, complete with high speeds, air time and, best of all, no lift lines.
Snowkiting is kiteboarding’s easier and more accessible cold-weather cousin, perfect for frigid-season weekend fun on your corner of the cottage lake. “Far more people can kite on snow than on water because you won’t sink if you make a mistake,” says Paul Berube, the lead instructor at PBKiteboarding, a Toronto company that teaches snowkiting on Lake Simcoe near Keswick. “We’ve had everyone from twelve-year-olds to seventy-year-olds do it.”
Lessons are a good idea, and they smooth the learning curve. Even training kites measure two metres across and have four strings and a control bar. It’s no butterfly on a string. In novice hands, these powerful kites can streak back and forth at the end of the line like a spooked horse. But, as with a horse, finesse, not power, rules. Anyone can tame one; within a couple of hours, most people ski off, leaving rooster tails of snow in their wake.
It’s easy to get 20 feet of air, Berube says, with as little as 15 km/h of wind. Which explains snowkiting’s rapid growth. “The number of people doing it grows every year,” he notes. “Wind power is the future.”