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Learn to Fly... And Return to Earth

Alternative to extreme, some sporting ideas for winter

(page 2 of 5)


“It’s like any sport in that there’s an adrenaline rush . . .”

There are peak people and valley people and there are ways to satisfy those who fancy one or the other, or both.

Kiteskiing allows you to soar over the slopes and scoot along the snowscape at high speed based on the wind and how you steer your kite.

Just last year, a team of British and Canadian adventurers sailed into the record books by trekking to the geographic center of Antarctica on foot and by kiteskiing.

It’s not just fun, Mom, it’s educational!

The basics needed to snowkite are pretty minimal. All you do is strap on a pair of skis (or a snowboard), harness yourself to a kite (similar, but smaller, than a paragliding kite), catch some wind and off you go.

It’s like a cross between paragliding and waterskiing, although its closest cousin is probably kitesurfing. Prepare for unbridled exhilaration depending on the wind; in a matter of seconds you can be whisked across the snow at 40 miles an hour and then lifted 20 feet in the air before your stomach has settled from the last thrill.

Chris Seldon says he took up snowkiting after moving to the Sun Valley area six years ago. Although he’s been skiing for 15 years, he says a snowkiter enjoys a certain independence other winter sport enthusiasts may not be able to enjoy.

“It’s like any sport in that there’s an adrenaline rush, but with this (sport) you don’t need a mountain,” he says.

This alone liberates snowkiters, who may go when and where they choose, without the accumulative costs of day passes, season passes or lift fees.

Seldon says he prefers to snowkite in big open spaces, usually out East Fork near his home, or in the windy flatlands in nearby Fairfield. The spaces of those areas, he says, give him a lot of room to maneuver.

Some snowkiters, though, he points out, choose to approach the mountains, and even “climb” them, by exploiting the wind and quickly ascending the slopes, an activity that can make lift passes seem quaint. >>>

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