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About this blog

In Norway Red Bull is having a great snowkiting event called Red Bull Ragnarok.

Visit www.redbullragnarok.com for more info!

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Red Bull Ragnarok 2015

Once again, I found myself on the vast plains of Hardangervidda in Norway with kites all around me. We arrived Thursday morning after a 5-6-ish hour drive and before that, a 3 hour trip by boat and checked into the rented apartment. After an hours sleep we was ready to go check out the conditions, so we drove out on the plateau. The race is in the end of the season this means the day temperature often is just around zero degrees Celsius or even a few degrees above, this means the snow is more ice than powder, so once more I decided to go for skies rather than snowboard.
There was a lot of wind so I put up the 12 meter Peter Lynn Charger II and off I went. I tracked around 30 kilometers and hit a top speed of roughly 55 km/h – not too bad for a freestyle kite and a pilot who has never skied without a kite before (and not much with a kite actually as well.
After a bit of hassle, I managed to change my race class to skies and we went back to the apartment to get a good night’s sleep. Everything pointed toward the race would be held the next day and so we checked out gear one last time and hit the sack. At the race meeting the next day what everybody seems to know already was confirmed; it was race day! A course consisting of 5 laps each measuring 20 kilometers (bee-line) surely would put even the best kiters to the test – and there was some serious kiters present, and then all us weekend warriors, heck even a few contestants who has just learned to kite a week before the race. The preliminary reports from the spot said up to 15 m/s (28-30 knots) and complete whiteout on the plateau, but was supposed to clear up. Around 300 kiters went out to pack their gear in the busses, needless to say you could cut the tension with a knife, everybody was super excited to see what was in store for us. We managed to get on the first bus taking us to the spot and arrived with 1½ hour before the expected start. A quick reading and scouting of the area along with the session yesterday made me put up the 12 meter Peter Lynn Charger II and head out to check the starting area out. I was fully powered on, the sun was shining and the snow wasn’t as icy is yesterday, what a great day for a race. The wind was forecasted to be quite stable, with a small chance of getting just a wee bit higher, so I was confident I had chosen the right kite. The start was postponed one hour due to whiteout, not that we could see anything in the start area; the sun was shining and not a cloud in the sky – a friendly reminder on how conditions can change up here. We decided to save our strength and only did a few quick runs, completing the course would mean at least 100 kilometers worth of snowkiting - that will take its toll on the body. We was just about to set up the kites and find a good spot to await the horn, but then we heard the start was postponed another ½ hour. We went out for another scouting run, and it was quite clear the wind had dropped but I was still able to climb the mountains, so I decided to play it a bit safe, I knew from last year I could expect more wind on top of the mountains. Still I couldn’t shred the thought that I might have been better off putting up the 18 meter Peter Lynn Charger II, then again I could easily and quite fast change kites after the first round if that was needed – and surely I had enough wind to finish the first round.
Like last year I decided to start a bit in the back, being on a freestyle kite I was not competing with the race guys anyway – and I would rather not get tangle during the mayhem-to-be. The start was postponed yet another 15 minutes, oh how frustrating everybody could feel the wind was dropping, but there was no time to switch kites. Suddenly the yellow flag came up, 1 minute to start and everybody started slowly moving towards the line – then the horn sounded and bam 300 kite dropped in a massive powerstroke. It was on! I soon found myself in the middle of the pack; there was kites everywhere I tell you. It might sound unlikely, but the only place there was any kites was on the ground in front of me – but what a relief. After a few hundred meters we found ourselves in a wind-hole so I had to work the kite a bit – not the easiest task with this many kites in the air, but I managed. I could see the first gate that – unlike last year – was placed on the flat and not on a mountain. Further ahead I could see a lot of kiters was struggling to keep the kites in the air, so I decided to go a few hundred meters past the gate before I turned. It turned out to be the right decision and I was heading up towards the second gate, after a minor incident where a guy dropped his kite in my lines and I had to relaunch it before I could get on. It’s a part of the game, and last year I was the guy who dropped my kite in somebody’s lines, so I guess it’s a karma thing. Now the Red Bull guys like to challenge us and they didn’t disappoint us this year, just after the second gate we faced a very steep descent. Not something I was mentally prepared for, so I quickly decided to go and see if I could find a better route. I managed to find one and began my descent, but in a combination of excitement, adrenaline and inattention, I caught up with the kite and in dropped from the sky.
I had no other choice but to walk the lines, not the easiest task in knee deep snow on the side of a mountain, not to mention actually launching the kite there. But after a good 40 minutes I managed and let me tell you it felt good! The wind had dropped further, but the way to the third gate was a beam reach and I soon passed that as well. The race had been on for a good 1½ hour know and there was kites everywhere on the course, I decided to follow some of the closest kiters after all they might be on their second round and know the course by know. From the third to the fourth gate was nearly dead downwind and counting in a gentle descent from gate three, it’s not the worst situation when on skies, but I decided to tack down, I really didn’t feel like catching up with the kite and having to walk out the lines once more. Down in the valley I made good speed, but only for a while, then the wind completely vanished, I mean just gone. I saw one of my mate’s kites on the ground; it looked like she was stranded as well. Oh well there was nothing to do than to walk up to the fourth gate and see if the struggle would be rewarded. All of a sudden, we could see a lot of kiters moving up the mountain towards the third gate, they came with the wind it would seem, clearly they also brought complete chaos. I counted at least three kiters who managed to completely block the gate with their kites/lines – obliviously not intentionally but quite unpractical. I decided the stay and help a bit; there was nowhere to launch my own kite anyway at the moment. It didn’t take long before the guys ahead was once more having trouble keeping their kites in the air. I decided to take a slightly different route to be able to stay on the top of the ridge, it paid off and I managed to get a fair bit further than most of the guys. But eventually I couldn't even keep the kite in the air and I was once more stranded, the view as astonishing and I didn’t really feel like walking a few kilometers back to gate four. Once more I saw one of my mates, she manage to fight her way up to me and we hang out there for a few minutes – and all of a sudden the third mate’s kite was seen on the horizon. He started the race on a small 6 meter Peter Lynn Fury, but after the first round he then switched over to the 11 meter Peter Lynn Leopard.   Once more the wind picked up, another testimony on how quickly things can change up here. After a bit of fiddling with my lines I was up and on my way. Given the wind it actually went ok towards gate five, I was able to climb the mountain, since I only had a rough idea on where the gate was it was quite lucky I actually found it. I was nearly on the top of the mountain when I managed to crash the kite on the downwind side of the mountain, I thought for sure it would be close to impossible to relaunch there, this time around lady luck decided to smile at me. With close to no hassle the kite was in the air again – ok now where is that damn gate five? I decided to cross the mountaintop and in less than 50 meters was gate five, what a lovely sight. The rest of the way to the starting line was easily covered and I moved towards gate one. What I didn’t knew was the cutover time was 18.00 and it was now 18.30 – ok well back to the start area and pack up. When I returned one of my mates waved vigorously at me yelling I missed gate six! Cutover time or not I decided to finish in style and pass the sixth gate. So disregarding the cutovertime I actually managed to finish one round this time around. I didn’t bring and water or food on because I was expecting to finish one lap in one hour, and not 4½ hours, so the water and Red Bull was highly appreciated. I have secured my spot for Red Bull Ragnarok 2016, this time I expect to be using my Flysurfer Speed 4 Lotus and actually finish the entire damn race :-) Our video from the trip:
https://player.vimeo.com/video/135031204 And we was also interviwed for the official video:
Link

m.klinge

m.klinge

 

Red Bull Ragnarok 2014

Red Bull Ragnarok 2014 So in the spring of 2014 I got my baptism of fire in terms of snowkiting when partaking in Red Bull Ragnarok 2014. As a Dane who has never been either to Sweden or Norway or any other place with mountains and snow, my experience as a snowkiter was limited to the inland fields of Denmark during the (Very few) days with 5-15 centimetres of snow.
The race was held in the stunning surroundings of the Haugastøl plateau during Friday the 4th of April. The wind was very light, rather than using my snowboard I decided to use skies, thankfully recommend that I take them by Shaun from Wagtail kite boarding school. Given the conditions – a lot of the other participants also changed to skies due to the wind and snow conditions. I used my trusty 18 meter Peter Lynn Charger II – an amazing kite with a huge wind range, but not exactly a race-machine. Being a light wind race some of the serious guys were flying very high aspect race kites and of cause the usual foil suspects (Flysurfer, HQ and Ozone) was well represented as well. I decided to start in the back downwind and let the mayhem-to-be break loose once the horn blew and try to stay clear of it. As the race was 5 laps I would have plenty of time to catch up with my real competitors; the casual kiter on a freestyle kite like myself. The build up to the race was exhilarating, 200 kites in the air and 200 excited kites below ready to blast past the starting line – everybody was in for one hell of an experience. The course was made of 5 checkpoints and the start/finish line, each checkpoint was placed on top of a small hill, in essence the whole race was hills and valleys. Once the horn was blown all 200 kiters dropped their kites simultaneously and off we went towards the 1st checkpoint. Being at the back I could see the kites dropping out of the sky near the bottom of the first checkpoint ad I soon found myself in the same situation. I managed to re-launch and loop the kite to go a little further but eventually I had to succumb to walking up to the 1st checkpoint. At the top of the hill we had wind so I launched and when off on the longest downwind tack on the course. For a brief moment I was unfocussed doing a down-loop and crashed my kite into a guy on a flysurfer, he was very quick to pull his safety – nothing happened and he was really cool about it. I helped him to re-launch and we were soon back on our way. The rest of the way went quite well up to the 2nd checkpoint, but on the way down I caught up with the kite and it dropped out of the sky. If I had actually tried alpine skiing before it would have helped here. The way to the 3rd checkpoint was mostly flat and on a beam reaches tack, from the hill at the 3rd checkpoint I could see the 4th checkpoint in the horizon. The entire course was marked with Red Bull flags which I wrongly decided to follow from the 3rd to 4th checkpoint. The flags were put in a straight line between the checkpoints and went straight through a deep valley which I soon found myself in. I stood at the foot of the highest point of the entire course and figured there wasn’t nearly enough wind for me to climb it, so I had to work my way back up the ridge. I found some small comfort in seeing I wasn’t the only one making that mistake, but most of the guys were blasting through on top of the ridge. Up on the ridged there was more wind, I was fatiguing and didn’t manage to take full advantage of the wind. Once again I had to succumb, but as I climbed the hill with the kite still in the sky. I soon found there was a lot more wind, so the 4th checkpoint was cleared and I was on my way to the 5th checkpoint with good speed. Between the 4th and the 5th checkpoint I met a kiter with his kite flagged out and entangled on the ground, he was clearly not happy with the situation. He yelled at me if he could borrow my kite, I thought he was joking. He told me he was on the 5th and final lap and was in the running for a 2nd or 3rd place finish. I was tired and at the back of the race pack. I decided since he was so close and with a possible podium finish, it would be a better option if I could help him out. He promised to come back with it as soon as he cleared the 5th checkpoint and crossed the finish line. A very happy man kited off as I walked towards the 5th checkpoint where I got a lift on a snow scooter. I caught up with the guy with my kite, as he was about to back it down and walk back to me. The break I had and the nice wind between the 4th and 5th checkpoint got me thinking that I could at least to one more lap. But down on the lake at the start/finish line there was no wind, and I had to finally accept defeat. Yet I wasn’t alone only 40 of the 200 kiters did all five laps, and my final placement in the ski group was 83 – not too bad for my first ever snow kite race as an amateur kiter. After the race I caught up with the guy who borrowed my Peter Lynn Charger II, it was Felix Kersten who actually finished 3rd place in the ski group. He was very grateful that I had lend him my kite and was very eager to let me play around with his 15 m Ozone Chrono – it’s a really nice kite, but I’m not changing my Peter Lynn Charger II’s any time soon. All in all it was a huge experience and I’m planning to go again next year as well, this time around I will do my homework in advance.

m.klinge

m.klinge

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