Kitesnowblading at Winterlude
Once kiteskiing become more and more popular, some snowblade
enthusiastics start asking "can I use my snowblades with the kite".
The answer is a resounding "yes". Kitesnowblading use the same boots
as kiteskiing so the boots are pretty strong and provide more than enough
support for kitesnowblading. Since most snowblades are pretty short
(under 1m), snowblade bindings don't even need to release automatically as
But why kitesnowblading? Since the snowblades are shorter, the
kiter has more flexibility can get perform certain tricks easier than longer
skis. Besides, it is also somewhat stylish to ride with snowblades.
So if you want to do it with more flexibility and style then kitesnowblading
is for you!
Besides, with snowblades, the kiter is more flexible and more mobile when
the kite is down. Similarly, snowblade skis are more suitable when you
want to go out kiting with the family and tow your kids behind you on their toboggans or on
their skis. Similar to kiteskiing, kitesnowblading is so easy to learn that if your kids already
feel comfortable on snowblade skis, they can learn kitesnowblading with a small kite.
Kitesnowblading is easier than kitesurfing so if you live in a colder climate and want to
get into kitesurfing, don't wait until spring, go kitesnowblading now! The skill you
learn in kitesnowblading will be very useful in kitesurfing.
To go kitesnowblading you need the following equipment
- A traction kite, lines and associated control device. Any land or water kite can
be used for kitesnowblading. Inflatable kites can also be used
for kitesnowblading especially the new Flat Inflatable (Flat LEI or bow kites)
which can relaunch very easy on snow. For classic inflatable
kites, you may want to rig up a 5th line to
facilitate relaunch on snow. In very cold days, it is wise to pump
up the struts indoor such that you only have to pump up the leading edge
Similar to kitesurfing, make sure you have a safety release system that you can depower
the kite at any moment. Furthermore, you may want to use a kite that provides
good depowering capability such that you don't have to stop and change to a smaller or larger
kite as frequent. Similar to kitesurfing, you would need a number of kites to cover
the whole wind range.
- A pair of snowblades.
- A pair of ski boots.
- A kitesurfing or windsurfing harness (waist or seat harness is fine).
- A helmet (a must on ice or hard pack as you don't want to test the "rigidity"
of your skull when it hits the ice).
- If you do a lot of jumping on hard pack or ice, protect your body with a wakeboard
impact vest with elbow and knee pads or simply use the same protection equipment that a
hockey player uses.
- Warm clothing. You normally need less warm clothing kitesnowblading than
skiing. It's best to use layers such that you can take off some layers when it
gets too warm.
- A good pair of thin yet warm mitten. Don't use glove as your fingers can get cold
rapidly. You may want to use a a pair of thin inner gloves in case
you have to use your hand to work on the lines.
So how big a kite you need for kitesnowblading? As snow and ice have much less
friction than water, you should use a smaller kite as you would for kitesurfing (on the
average, about 2/3 of the size you would use for kitesurfing; smaller on ice - 1/2 - and
larger on powder snow - 3/4). If you fly the kite straight over head, you should be
able to feel the pull from the kite and be able to walk backward with some reasonable
effort. If you feel the kite lift around 1/3 of your weight and can barely walk
backward then you have more power than you would need for kitesnowblading.
The best place to kitesnowblade is probably a frozen lake. Just make sure you have
checked the ice condition. In early or late season, the ice condition may be
conditional, so it's wise to stay close to shore in the shallow area (maximum knee or
waist deep). One of the advantage of winter kitesnowblading is such that you can stay
close to shore without having the risk of destroying your fins or board.
Normally, the ice is considered safe for any human activities such as walking or
kitesnowblading if it is around 10 cm or 4" deep. To check the ice thickness, just
take an axe and dig a hole in the ice until you reach the water. The other more
obvious sign of safe ice is snowmobile, car tracks or fishing huts on ice. These vehicles need
ice thicker than kitesnowblading (normally they need 8" to 12" around 2 to
3 times as thick as we need).
Any empty snowy field would work well.
As the pull of the kite is normally lighter than kitesurfing, going upwind on a pair of
skis is easy. One of the main bonus of kitesnowblading is that it's OK to
kitesnowblade in off-shore
wind. If worse come to worse you can simply depower the kite, pack it and walk back
to shore (as long as you have checked the ice condition)
Before starting to learn kitesnowblading, it is recommended that you already have some
experience flying a traction kite. If you have never flown a traction kite, please
review the Kite piloting and the Kite power controlling sections before
How To Start?
- Lay your kite on the ground and put enough snow on its trailing edge
to keep it in place.
- Release the lines from you control bar or handles and attach your
safety leash to your wrist or harness.
- If you use a closed-cell foil that has pre-inflation valves, open them
now to pre-inflate the kite (close the valve after the kite is 1/2 to
- Get your boots in your ski binding.
- Launch the kite (if you are on ice, use the edge of your skis to stop yourself from
getting dragged downwind). If you are using a closed cell foil, make sure you
maintain the tension on the front lines to let the wind fill the kite for approximately 60
seconds before launching.
- Dive the kite in the direction where you want to go. You may have to point your
skis down wind or in a broad-reach direction first and then turn upwind once you have
gather enough speed.
- Put the kite down on snow, leading edge toward the wind, one tip
of the kite is on the sand the other tip is in the air. The kite looks like a
vertical "C" with the leading edge facing the wind.
- Fold the kite tip and put enough snow on it to keep it from moving
- Get in you binding now.
- Hold the control bar and position yourself such that kite is at
the wind window edge respective to your position (the kite is either 85 degrees to the
left or the right of you with its leading edge facing the wind).
- If you use a 4 line inflatable, adjust your trim strap to put the
kite in a depowered mode.
- Attach the safety leash to your wrist or harness. Don't hook
in or shackle in to your kite until after you have launched you kite.
- Pull on the control bar and the line nearest to the ground to
unfold the tip and release the kite from the sand.
- Pull the top line (the line farthest from the ground) to move the
- Adjust the trim strap to power up your kite (and shackle in if you
normally ride shackled in).
- Dive the kite in the direction where you want to go. You may
have to point your skis down wind or in a broad reach direction first and then turn
upwind once you have gather enough speed.
- Use the same launching method as traditional
- anchor the chicken loop to a heavy object
(your skis, snowboard, kiteboard or a heavy bag of sand).
- Go to the kite and launch it at the edge of the wind window.
The kite will just hover there with little or no pull.
- Go back to the control bar and attach the
safety leash if needed.
- Attach the chicken loop to you harness.
- Get in your binding.
- Pull the top line (the line farthest from the ground) to move
the kite up.
- Drive the kite in the direction where you want to go.
How To Get Going?
- Similar to kitesurfing, if you have enough power to get going, simply lock your kite at
30 - 60 degrees in the forward moving direction.
- If you don't have enough power, move your kite in a sine wave pattern to get going.
- To turn the snowblades upwind, edge harder and put more pressure on the
- To turn the snowblades downwind, flatten the snowblades
It's best to keep a wide stance between your feet for maximum stability at speed.
Keep most of the edging pressure on your down wind snowblade for ease of control. If your
down wind leg get tired, you can temporarily shift the pressure to the up wind snowblade.
If the snow/ice condition is good, you can have a narrower stance and keep pressure on
both snowblades (60% on down wind snowblade and %40 on up wind snowblade) to
How To Jibe?
If you use snowblades, you have to learn how to jibe (which should be trivial if you are
already a snowblader):
- Move the kite upward and flatten your snowblades to move downwind.
- It's best to keep a slight "stem" formation (or the pizza
slice formation) of your snowblades while moving down
wind such that you can change the edge of your skis easier.
- Dive the kite in the other direction.
- Once you start feeling the pull from the kite, shift your weight to
the new downwind snowblade and turn it toward the new forward direction.
- Keep the new upwind snowblade parallel to the new down wind snowblade.
- Edge hard and hang on to move the snowblades upwind
How To Jump?
Jumping in kitesnowblading is similar to jumping in kitesurfing. You can
either jump with the help of a kicker or jumping with the help of your kite.
Jumping off a kicker is very easy in kitesnowblading; just go fast toward the
kicker and then turn your kite up when you are near the top of the kicker.
Brent jumping off the kicker
Jumping using the kite is a bit harder as
you don't have the same power from the kite as in kitesurfing; however, the faster speed
on skis provides the needed line tension to jump even with less power from the kite.
Claude got air with snowblades at Winterlude
If you want to jump high in kitesnowblading, you should only do that in powder snow as ice
and hard packed snow are not very forgiving.
Jumping in kitesnowblading uses the same techniques as in kitesurfing. Check
here for the techniques of jumping in kitesurfing.
How To Tow Another Skier?
Kitesnowblading is a family sport where you can go kitesnowblading and towing your wife/girl
friend or kids behind you. To tow another skier behind you, just attach a 15' rope
to your harness and a bar at the other end of the rope. The towed skier simply hold
on to the bar (as in water skiing). The towed skier does not have to learn any
special skill except for knowing how to go fast on a pair of down hill skis. Safety
is not an issue as the towed skier is far enough from the kite and can simply drop the
towing bar in case of trouble.
With a towed skier behind you, trying to make wider radius jibes and always tell the
towed skier just before you jibe.
Brent on telemark skis towing Hung on snowboard
Kite Snowblading Picture and Videos
Want to see more pictures and videos of kitesnowblading? Check the
2006 Winterlude event.