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Snow Kiting

By Charles Hopkins Published 01/19/2007 | Sports

Snow kiting is much like kite surfing on the water except it is done on snow. For snow kiting, you can use either a snowboard, or alpine or Telemark skis. It is easier to learn how to snow kite on skis than it is on a snowboard. The same gear and techniques used in kite surfing are also used in snow kiting. The kite may be made of foil, or you may use a tube kite which is inflatable. When you are just starting out, however, you will want to use a foil trainer kite.

Snow kiting looks harmless enough, but it can be very dangerous. The wind gets very strong at higher altitudes, and with the kite, the wind can pull you in directions that you dont want to go even in dangerous directions. It is very important that you master the techniques of snow kiting in a safe location before you head for higher altitudes and stronger winds.

Snow kiting has become quite popular in the United States, as well as in Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, France, and even Iceland. It first began in the 1980s, and was invented in Erie, PA when a group of alpine skiers used a parachute to ski upwind on a frozen body of water.  Foils for kite skiing were manufactured shortly after that. The foils have two handles on them for control of the kite. Kite skiing may also be referred to as kite surfing, kite boarding, or kite buggying.

Learning to control the kite is the first step to learning how to snow kite. This is very important. Again, not fully understanding how the wind affects the kite, and what you need to do to control the kite, your direction, and your speed, can literally get you killed, or at the very least injured. It is a good idea to take snow kiting lessons from a certified instructor before setting out on your own. Also, dont assume that just one lesson will do the trick. Take several lessons, and use instructional videos as well to learn new techniques.

Next, you need to find an area to snow kite in. You should look for wide open areas. Avoid areas that have trees or obstructions that your kite may get caught on. You also want an area that is not crowded with people, and not near any roads, railroads, or anything that may put you in unnecessary danger.

In areas where snow kiting is possible and popular, there are often events that are held each season. You should definitely go to these events, as a spectator, to see what it is all about, and to view techniques first hand. A lot can be learned just from observing. There are also many terms that you will want and need to learn for snow kiting.

You should also seek out snow kiting tours and trips after you have learned how to control your kite and mastered the techniques of snow kiting. Organized snow kiting tours and trips offer a lot of excitement, without putting you in unnecessary danger.