I went kiteskiing last weekend for the first time. A blast. And easier than I expected. Indeed, after two hours of kite instruction, I was cruising across a frozen lake, dipping my nylon sail into gusts for power, edging hard with the skis to turn, and flying down- and up-wind with fairly simple manipulation of the lines.
In Minnesota, where I took the lesson, Lakawa School of Kiteboarding (http://www.lakawa.com) offers a Snowkiting 101 Day Clinic for $300. This day-long course includes the fundamentals of kite flying and kite control, first in a discussion of theory then moving into the wind working with small trainer kites. After that it's on to the riding -- on skis or a snowboard -- first with smaller kites and slowly building into more and more power.
Instructor Tighe Belden and his staff work with each student to get them comfortable riding. In literally four hours, I was competent with this sport and confident enough to go it on my own next time. That kind of learning curve is rare in many sports, but Belden says most of his students require only one day to get up and riding. "After one lesson many students are ready to buy gear and start learning on their own," he said.
This is backed up by Belden's guarantee: Lakawa is so confident that they can get you riding in one day, that if you are not able to ride comfortably after a clinic, your next lesson is free.
Here are a few pics from my adventure on White Bear Lake outside of Minneapolis last weekend. . .