If you enjoy kitesurfing, making high jumps in moderate to strong wind, you definitely
want to try kitesnowboarding. Kitesnowboarding is very similar to if
not identical to kitesurfing. The difference is that you are likely to enjoy kitesnowboarding all by yourself on a snowy field or a frozen lake,
there is nobody there to tell you not to jump high or to go fast and you don't have to
wait 1/2 hour for the ski lift nor having to pay for it.
Kitesnowboarding is a bit harder than kiteskiing but much easier than kitesurfing so if
you live in a colder climate and want to get into kitesurfing, don't wait until spring, go
kitesnowboarding now! The skill you learn in kitesnowboarding is identical to
Kitesnowboarding using similar body position as kitesurfing
Photo by Brent
Many people associates kitesnowboarding with "being cold". On
the contrary, I have found that kitesnowboarding is "warmer" than any other
winter sports and much warmer than kitesurfing in spring and fall (and most of the summer
Except for the rail, see how similar a snowboard
and bidirectional kiteboards are?
Hyperlite Roam 2006 (left) and Hyperlite Roam 2007
Even wakeboarders now start using finless boards which look and feel like a
To go kitesnowboarding you need the following equipment
A traction kite, lines and associated control device. Any land or water kite can
be used for kitesnowboarding. Inflatable kites can also be used
for kitesnowboarding 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 snowboard (any standard snowboard would do). If you want to go fast, select a long, narrow snowboard. If you want to jump and doing tricks, select a short, wide
snowboard. You need to reposition the bindings to be as
centered as possible with 6 to 21 degrees duck stance (similar to a
Also, as you lean mostly backward, reposition the high back of the binding
(less forward leaning as in normal snowboarding) to make it comfortable.
A pair snowboard boots (step-in snowboard boots are the most convenience;
regular boots and bindings may be tighter but you don't need the same
kitesnowboarding as much as you may need in snowboarding) [I have used the regular winter boot in the Flow binding one size larger
A kitesurfing or windsurfing harness (either 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. As long as you have more than 6" of snow, the
fall is not that bad.
Warm clothing. You normally need less warm clothing kitesnowboarding than
snowboarding. 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 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 kitesnowboarding? If you can
edge properly, you should use the same kite size as for kitesurfing. Use a smaller
kite (around 3/4 of the kite size for kitesurfing) only if you cannot edge properly (ice,
almost ice or some bare spots of ice)
A kitesnowboard, a board made specifically for kitesnowboarding
The best place to kitesnowboard is probably a very large snowy field
with clean wind (the minimum is twice the
size of a football or soccer field).
The second best place is a large frozen lake with snow on top. If you kitesnowboard on a
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 kitesnowboarding 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
kitesnowboarding 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 (from 8" to 1') than kitesnowboarding.
Even though you can kitesnowboard on ice, it is more desirable if
you have some decent snow coverage (as long as you can edge properly). 1" of snow
fused into the ice is good enough for cruising and 2-3" of snow is good
As the pull of the kite is slightly lighter than kitesurfing, going upwind on a
snowboard is easy. One of the main bonus of kitesnowboarding is that it's OK to
kitesnowboard 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 kitesnowboarding, 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
It is also recommended to review the whole HowTo
section of kitesurfing as the techniques used in kitesurfing (a bidirectional board) and
kitesnowboarding is identical.
Jump & grab
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 snowboard binding.
Launch the kite (if you are on ice, use the edge of your snowboard 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
snowboard 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 snow 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
If you are not using step-in binding, 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.
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
Step in your binding if you have not done so in step 3.
Adjust the trim strap to power up your kite
Dive the kite in the direction where you want to go. You may
have to point your snowboard 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/snow/ice).
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
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 snowboard upwind, edge harder and put more pressure on the tail/back of the
To turn the snowboard downwind, flatten the snowboard
It's best to keep a wide stance between your feet for maximum stability at speed.
As opposed to downhill snowboarding where you keep most of the pressure on your front
foot, in kitesnowboarding, you should keep even pressure between your feet for more
balance and control. If you keep too much pressure on the front feet,
you may fall forward the front of your board.
In lots of powder snow, you need straighten your front foot and bend your back foot to
let the front tip of the snowboard float above the surface to go easier and faster.
How To Jibe?
With a snowboard, you don't need to jibe, just move the kite up, stop and then move the
kite in the backward direction to move backward. You can perform a more
"glamorous" jibe by simply jumping and then landing moving in the other
direction (only do this once you have learned how to land smoothly
as hard packed snow and ice are not very forgiving). The other option is to perform
a fake jibe as when jibing a bidirectional board:
Move the kite up and carve the board
When the kite is almost a zenith, edge the windward rail and slide the board
down wind; the back foot now become the new front foot;
Jumping in kitesnowboarding is identical 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 kitesnowboarding; just go
fast toward the kicker and turn your kite up when you are near the top of
Jumping off a kicker
Video by Brent
Jumping using the
kite is a bit harder as you may have slightly less power from the kite than in kitesurfing
in icy condition; however, the faster speed on snowboard provides the needed line
tension to jump even with less power from the kite.
Claude in middle of a jump & spin
If you want to jump high in kitesnowboarding, you should only do that in powder snow as
ice and hard packed snow are not very forgiving.
Jumping in kitesnowboarding uses identical techniques as in kitesurfing. Read the Jumping section for more information.
How To Land?
Landing smoothly is somewhat optional in kitesurfing (especially
when you are learning new tricks); however, it is a must in kitesnowboarding unless you
want to break your bones. Read the Landing section for the
technique of smooth landing in kitesnowboarding and kitesurfing.
One of the main bonus of kitesnowboarding is that
you can ride the frozen wave similar (similar to kitesurfing in wave) almost
anywhere you can find a snow bank. Riding a frozen wave is fun and
it's always there for you.
Except for lacking the dynamic feature of a
wave, the frozen wave provides the same feeling and needs the same
wave riding techniques.
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