Snow kiting: the new trendy winter sport

Haugastøl. Have you ever heard this name? Probably not, for the simple fact that Haugastøl is not even a town but only a small train station in the middle of Norway. It is located 275.5 km from Oslo and at an altitude of 988 metres above sea level. If you were to arrive by chance, you would discover that there is a small family hotel a few hundred meters above sea level, just in front of a beautiful pond. If it were winter then, you would also find hundreds of young people there. Why? Because Haugastøl is one of the world capitals of snow kiting.

What is the snowkite?

Also called Kite Skiing, snow kiting is a sport that is practiced, as the name suggests, on the snow, using large "kites". All you need to do is a harness, a pair of skis or snowboards, a kite, a little wind and a little courage. Yes, courage, because snow kiting is considered an acrobatic sport, even if it can really be practiced by everyone taking, of course, the necessary precautions. Athletes, in fact, using only the force of the wind, can extend their time in the air after a jump, which allows them to perform stunts sometimes to the limit of what is possible.

The flying man

The story of the birth of this sport is as fascinating as all the stories that arise from the dreams of a child. Dieter Strasilla was in fact just a child when for the first time he found himself reading a book entitled: From the flight of birds to the human flight, found by chance in his library. In a moment, flying became his obsession, so much so that he fell in love with the ideas and experiments of Otto Lilenthal, also known as "the flying man", and pioneer of aviation on ultra-light vehicles. It is thanks to the studies of Lienthal, the availability of his mother tailor and the skills of his brother, for years an employee of NASA in the United States, that Strasilla invents a new sport: snow kiting. The idea was as simple as it was innovative: to be carried away on the snow by the wind.

What does it take to make snow kiting?

Unlike kitesurfing, which needs a windy situation to be practiced, snow kiting only needs a light breeze. In the water, constant traction is required to let yourself be carried away by the waves, which means good wind power and large sails.
Small sails powered by a gentle breeze are also sufficient for snow kiting. In addition, these "sails" used by snow kiters are very different from those used in water. Most snow kiters use sails that do not have a rigid structure and therefore provide the user with greater safety. With this system, in fact, the sail can be easily felled at any time. This allows every skier to save himself in the event of sudden and sudden gusts of wind.

Between kites and balance

Kites for sport can belong to two different categories: inflatable kites or caisson kites. The first one is mainly used on water, although it can also be used on snow. They consist of a sail, usually in nylon, anchored to a tubular structure in mylar. This category of kites is particularly suitable for marine use, given its ability to float. However, this characteristic penalises its governability and manoeuvrability. And it is for this reason that it is generally not recommended to use it for snow.
Caisson kites, on the other hand, do not have a rigid structure, which is why they are more resistant to impact and easier to steer. They are made up of two layers of nylon overlapped and joined together by ribs. These characteristics are those that give the wing a high efficiency even in low wind conditions. The sail is steered by a steering or piloting system. Cables, which are very strong and not very elastic, join these two parts together.
Because of its simplicity and the fact that you don't need a particular climate to practice it, snow kiting is rapidly gaining ground all over the world, so that it would not be excessive to call it the "new trendy winter sport". As they said, Haugastøl, in Norway, has made it its flagship, giving miles of slopes to the many who every winter go there in search of adventure in the great white of Norway. But you don't have to go all the way to Norway to enjoy this sport: snow kiting slopes and courses can be found everywhere, from the Alps to the Pyrenees, with experiences suitable for beginners and experts alike.

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