« Kiteskating anyone? | Main | Global Storming? Rate This Winter »

February 24, 2008

Straight Skis Reborn!

Chris Krug's favorite pair of kite skis were mounted as pieces of nostalgia on his garage wall up until last winter. They are straight-sidecut Solomons, downhill racing specialists that measure a lengthy 215 centimeters. As far as alpine skiing goes, they are considered unwieldy and obsolete - pushed out by the new generation of shaped skis that make turning as simple as rolling your ankles toward the snow.

On Sunday at Sand Bar State Park on Lake Champlain , Krug needed all 215 centimeters of edge to carry speeds up to 45 mph. The New Hampshire resident leaned hard against his kite, held his edge and flew across the frozen lake (see photos, first and last).

This much torque on a shaped ski would have turned Krug sharply upwind. Then he would have had to disengage the edge, re-align himself on a crosswind tack and lean against the kite again - which would have turned him upwind again ... and again and again.

Straight sidecut skis, the kind so many skiers have in their basements with no plans other than to turn them into a fence or lawn chair someday, are the perfect tool for kiteskiing it turns out.

At the fifth annual Kitestorm festival Sunday, the circa-1970s and '80s boards were out in force. The 200 centimeter-plus lengths handle the speeds kiteskiers carry much better than today's alpine skis (which range from 140 to 180 centimeters in most cases), and the straight edge keeps a kiteskier on an ideal crosswind tack.

Personally, I have a thing for using my old skinny skis for downhill skiing sometimes. I like to make it hard on myself, but that's just me. Now it appears there is a new arena for these skis to shine once again.

So before you start piecing together that lawn chair or mounting anything chalet-style to a wall, you might want to learn to fly a kite. From the looks of it, the sport has a future. And for the first time in a decade, so might your straight skis.







1) Chris Krug of North Conway, N.H. won the Kitestorm speed contest on Sunday reaching 45 mph at Sand Bar State Park.

2) Snowboarding was not recommended by event organizers because of the glare ice underneath a fluffy few inches of new snow, but some riders couldn't resist. Kiteboarder Vince Stefanelli came up from New Jersey.

3) Kitestorm founder and the matriarch of snowkiting and kitesurfing in Burlington, Rachel Miller

4) Instructor Ernie Reuter helps a newbie get her kite in the air.

5) Krug again, flying.

February 24, 2008 at 08:22 PM | Permalink


The comments to this entry are closed.