Kiteboarding brings winter fun for Sask. thrill-seekers
REGINA -- While downhill skiing and snowboarding options may be limited on the prairies, a group of Saskatchewan thrill-seekers have been getting their boarding fix from kiteboarding.
“[It’s] an adrenaline rush if you want to get going really fast [and] if you want to jump really high,” said Caitlin Stewart, a member of the Saskatchewan Windriders.
The group of kiteboarding and windsurfing enthusiasts has been around for over 35 years.
“You’re wind-powered and it’s propelling you across the land or the water, you’re attached with a harness to your bar and lines out to your kite,” Stewart explained. “It gives us the option here on the prairies of snowboarding without needing a mountain.”
The group gets permission from landowners to ride on snow-covered fields. Ideal conditions involve wind gusts of 15 kilometres per hour or higher. There are members as young as seven years old, but lessons when you’re a beginner are encouraged.
“Lessons are a 100 per cent must in getting into this sport, it’s not really something you can just go out and try on your own,” Stewart said.
In January, instructor and rider Aaron Hackel took advantange of strong winds and rode from Davidson to Bethune.
“Canola or nice wheat fields were topped up with powder. I was watching the highway and I was watching the semis and I’m pulling in front of the semis,” Hackel laughed.
He estimates he reached speeds of 120 kilometres per hour on the ride.
“There is no other feeling like it when you’re using the wind to propel you across the land and you can go three times as fast as the wind,” Hackel said.
Using the wind, it’s also easy to launch yourself into the air and make massive jumps.
“You come up to a barb wire fence – jump it. It’s no problem to whip over roads and jump over vehicles,” Hackel said.
The equipment is simple and, on top of regular snowboarding or skiing equipment, requires a harness and wind sail.
“We use a miniature size kite with 20 metre lines to propel us across the snow on skis or snowboard,” Hackel explained. “There is no other feeling like it and I’m sure glad that we live in the place that we do.”