Snow Is Only Frozen Water
The Eleveight crew caught up with two legendary watermen and Eleveight Team riders from Norway (Richard Anthony Newman and John Arne Askeland). These two cold-water kiters and surfers are used to rough conditions. If you think that they stop in winter time – forget it. They swap their wetsuits with some functional winter clothes und explore the backcountry of Norway with their Eleveight kites.
Hi guys! “Snow is only frozen water” has become quite a winter lifestyle for you guys. What is fascinating about snow kiting and what is the main difference to regular kiting?
Richard: Ah yes, to me, Norway is the paradise on earth. I love it here. For me as a surfer and a kiter the cold winter months are personally the most exciting ones. The coast gets smashed with solid north west ground swell and produces not only great surf but massive ice cream headaches. Hahaha. Also the mountains get encased in snow. I live in Rogoland so I’m lucky that everything is in my back garden: I can surf in the morning and then loop my kite up my favorite face doing powder runs just after lunchtime.
But what I personally love about kiting on snow is the feeling of being totally free and the spirit of adventure it holds. You can travel huge distances within one day and there are no restrictions to ski lifts or how far you can walk up.
The biggest difference for me from water to snow is that the air is denser so normally I can get away with a smaller kite which also allows you to fly in a lot less wind than you are able to on water. I’m fine on a 14m RS in 4ms of wind as long as the snow isn’t too deep. But I do think, technically, snowkiting is harder especially in terrain and light winds.
John Arne: Yeah, that’s true. Doing tricks on snow is a lot more of a workout than on water. Somehow it is way more exhausting. Still, when the water gets too cold, snow is way more comfortable. (Laughs)
On snow you get everything from no visibility with “whiteout” up to sunny powder days. A big difference is that they close the road all the time if the wind gets strong and visibility low. But on those nice days you have a beautiful playground. Endless miles of untouched nature, ready to be explored. You can ride the flat, uphill and downhill. The possibilities and freedom in snow kiting are endless!
Also you have the different snow conditions. Getting the pop right is way harder. You get everything from too light powder that can’t hold your edge, to wet snow with bad glide, to pure ice. Finding the right area with the right snow is a bit part of the gamble.
Q: Do you prefer skis or snowboards?
John Arne: I do enjoy both. I started out on skies in 2004, so nostalgic. In my opinion, skis are better on ice and hard snow and for exploring the terrain. Snowboards are more fun in soft snow and for playing around and doing freestyle. Also the stance on a snowboard is more similar to your stance on water. I mainly ride snowboard these days, but do use my skis ones in a while also.
Richard: I’m only on a snowboard when kiting but I have to admit that I’ve got the urge to try it with skies. Mainly for doing longer distances.
Q: Do you use the same kite setup and trim as on water? Any special gear preparation?
John Arne: I have always preferred the same setup as on water with the same tuning. But generally end up using bigger sizes in less wind. Some guys use line extensions for long distance kiting. On strong wind days they often close the roads and visibility is low, so the best days are not the strongest wind.
Richard: True, I am using line extensions when going back country kiting to get my kite a little higher and into cleaner winds. Other than that my kite setup remains nearly identical.
Q: What are your three tips for snow kite beginners?
John Arne: Yeah, that sums it up nicely. Definitely check the local forecast! For the day, and hour by hour. Talk to the locals. Prepare for the conditions! Hard snow and you need less power, in deep heavy snow you need more.
Also don’t go too far without knowing where you are, without the proper training and gear – weather can change in minutes! Let someone know where you are and when you are coming back. Walking back even a short walk in deep snow can be totally exhausting.
Lastly, learn how to self-land before you go. There will probably not be anyone around to land your kite like on the beach.
Thanks guys, it was a pleasure talking to you! Here’s to more snow to fall in the next weeks!
Interview by J-Bomb and RB
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