Reporting Bill Hudson
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — You may have seen them on our lakes in the summertime: Kiteboarders riding both wind and waves.
But the thrills don’t stop there.
Frozen lakes are the perfect place to learn the fast-growing sport.
Combine surfing and snowboarding — skiing and sailing and this is what you get. The fast growing sport of kiteboarding.
“Whoever created the idea in the late 90s, these guys they were putting up sheets of fabric like canvas,” said Mike Kratochwill, of the Lakawa School of Kiteboarding.
Kratochwill is the sports biggest booster.
Today’s kites are hardly sheets of canvas — these 12- to 17-meter monsters have inflatable edges and grab a lot of wind.
Randy Lindorf’s been catching gusts for 7 years.
“We live on White Bear and saw people doing it on a lake — I saw Lakawa and decided to take lessons, and from then on it’s been a passion,” Lindorf said.
On a frozen Medicine Lake, kites of all colors slice the sky — as skiers of all skills cut the snow.
“You’ll see these guys go up in the air. My goal is pretty much to stay on the ground…But they’re younger,” said Lloyd Kratz.
At 68, Kratz is hanging 10 with a much younger crowd. But that’s the beauty of kiteboarding.
“Men, women, old, young. Anyone can do it. It’s really a neat sport and it’s growing fast,” said Bill Manuel.
Kratochwill added: “You spend time learning how to do it and there’s a little bit of expense, but the wind is free; and once you get all the gear, it’s great to go and show up on a day like today.”
A 15 mile an hour breeze pulls skiers along without a care — just the tug of a kite, floating high above this frozen lake.
For a real sight, head to Garrison the weekend of March 1 through March 3.
It’s the 9th annual Kite Crossing — an endurance race across Lake Mille Lacs.
In addition to more than 100 riders, there will be demonstrations and equipment displays.