If you get excited about blustery winds and biting cold temperatures, then snowkiting just might be the perfect sport for you.
Snowkiting is basically snowboarding or skiing with a kite, but talking about the sport isn’t nearly as thrilling as participating in it, said Tyler Spence, owner and lead instructor of Stoke Riders Kiteboarding School, which offers lessons in Michigan, Indiana and Chicago.
“After a good snowkiting session, most people get what we call, ‘The Stoke,’” he said. “Once your adrenaline starts flowing as you harness the power of the wind, your attitude changes and you get really excited about your experience and everyone can notice how happy you just became. That’s ‘The Stoke.’”
Spence added that the excitement for snowkiting gets better and better with each new experience, comparing it to making a perfect jump or creating fresh tracks through few feet of fresh snow.
“Some people are also stoked by racing each other on ice covered lakes or just by cruising leisurely on the snow. I’ve been doing it for 10 years and still get totally stoked each time I go out, no matter what,” he said.
Here are a few things you should know about snowkiting, courtesy of Spence:
• It became popular as a crossover from windsurfing at the turn of the century
• Snowkiting uses a lot of ab and leg strength while requiring the upper body and lower body to control both the kite and the board or skis
• It releases a lot of adrenaline as you tune out the rest of the world and focus on the wind, the terrain and the kite
“It is also a great excuse to get out of the house in extremely cold wind chill. It makes you feel like a happier and better person by being in the present moment,” he said. “You actually get really excited about the cold wind and the snow once you learn how to snowkite. It contributes to a healthy lifestyle.”
According to Spence, there are many great places in Michigan to go snowkiting. The first requirement, of course, is wind, so he recommends areas near bodies of water, which typically experience windier conditions. Tawas Point State Park is a great spot as is Lake St. Clair Metropark.
“In Michigan, grassy fields in parks, snow covered dunes and frozen lakes seem to work the best for beginners. There are many more good places to snowkite if you know the right farmers. Soybean and hay fields work sometimes but they are usually quite gusty and you have to be careful of the bean stalks if there is not enough snow,” he said.
Spence added that many snowkiters like to travel to their favorite destinations – and they may do so frequently even if these locations are far away from their home. It’s all about seeking the best conditions so they can get that thrill that comes from racing through the air – just you and the wind.
The good news is that once you have your equipment and have taken some lessons, you are all set to go. There are no ongoing fees or leagues to join. The only costs are travel expenses should you choose to venture away from home.
“It really depends how stoked you really want to be,” he said.
Thinking about trying snowkiting? Tyler Spence, owner and lead instructor of Stoke Riders Kiteboarding School, which offers lessons in Michigan, Indiana and Chicago, shared a few reasons why you should take a snowkiting lesson before buying any gear:
• Your instructor will explain how to set up your gear correctly and how to fly the kite safely
• Although snowkiting is not physically demanding, the kite can generate tremendous pull if you are using the wrong gear or using the right gear improperly without knowing how it all works. An instructor will make sure you know how to do everything safely
• An instructor will share the best snowkiting spots and teach you how to read the wind