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Two Kiteboarders Getting Ready for the Olympics

Two Kiteboarders Getting Ready for the Olympics

Alpine Skier Steve Nyman gets away from the slopes. Photo Courtesy Steve Nyman

Alpine Skier Steve Nyman gets away from the slopes. Photo Courtesy Steve Nyman

There are those in the sport of kiteboarding who think kiteboarding will one day be in the Olympics. That day may come in the near future, but this winter, kiteboarders will already be participating in the 2010 Olympic Games.

Two athletes participating in the 2010 Winter Games are also kiteboarders. Alpine Skier Steve Nyman and Skeleton Athlete Katie Uhlaender spend much of their time training hard for their Olympic sports, but they both admit to being addicted to kiteboarding. From Steve:

“I started kiting in 2005 in Maui. I pretty much got off the plane and gave it a go and had a horrible experience. My girlfriend at the time tossed an 8m kite in the air and just expected me to go with no lessons. I was taking monster 30-foot steps down the beach, bruising my heels and ruining the next week of my trip. But, experiencing the power of the wind at that time got me hooked. She later bought me proper lessons!

While in Maui, I learned a lot and was saved from disaster by the Richmond brothers, so I want to send a big thanks to those guys. For a couple years I only kited in Maui and snow-kited in New Zealand and Chile during our summer ski camps. I attempted snowkiting in Utah a couple of times, but didn’t know where to go until last summer, when I realized how good Utah was!

Steve Nyman Photo NBC/USOC

Steve Nyman Photo NBC/USOC

There are several people on the ski team who kite now, and we go out and charge together after training. Kiting is a bilateral sport with balanced muscle development and the coordination involved. It’s really good for your core strength. I like the challenge of riding both ways heel and toe side then jumping and landing each way. Now I’m really into riding a surf board. The balance and jibing gives me a new challenge. I also like how you have to be aware of yourself, the kite, and others all at the same time. It’s such a free sport. With skiing, it’s you and the mountain, and kiting is you and the wind and water.

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The travel aspect of kiting is a lot of fun. I scope new local places out and go try them. I have my eye on this lake in “the middle of nowhere” Wyoming. My teammate, Erik Fisher, and I traveled to Costa Rica 2 years back and kited Lake Arenal and Bahia Salinas and some random beaches along the Pacific Coast, which was incredible. It was just kite, eat, and sleep, and when the wind didn’t blow we frequented the Costa Rican rodeos. It’s funny, in the summer, I dream of skiing, and in the winter, I dream of kiting.”

Katie Uhlaender loves to get out on the water when she's not flying downhill head first on a sled! Photo Courtesy Katie Uhlaender

Katie Uhlaender loves to get out on the water when she's not flying downhill head first on a sled! Photo Courtesy Katie Uhlaender

Apparantly, throwing herself into an icy tunnel at over 80 mph isn’t enough excitement for Katie Uhlaender, who we were told is an avid reader of The Kiteboarder Magazine. Here’s what Katie has to say about kiteboarding:

How long have you been kiteboarding?
I have been playing with kites (the real ones) since the summer of 2006. I had a trainer kite from my boyfriend. It was a 5m 4 -line kite, and at first I just played with it standing around untill I got my figure 8s down; then I used my mountain board and played for real. That same summer I got on a board for the first time in the Cook Islands with a 13m. Since then, I’ve only been on a board 5 times, but I have made sure to do as many body drag sessions and land sessions with a trainer as I can. I don’t get the opportunity to do it very often, but I play with what I can as often as I can. I’ve kited in Montreal, Caribbean, Ghost lake in AB, CA, and of course the Cook Islands. Many other places with my mountain board. I can’t wait to find the time to spend this summer just getting better. I’m addicted to the sport, and am a complete novice; but LOVE IT!

Katie Uhlaender Photo NBC/USOC

Katie Uhlaender Photo NBC/USOC

What are your favorite places to kiteboard?
The Cook Islands.

How does kiteboarding enhance your overall fitness?
It is a great cross-training sport for knowing how to relax and pay attention to my surroundings. For skeleton that is key, also to be able to feel a delayed response in driving and focus on everything at once to accomplish you moving fast, efficient, and safely where you want to go. Just being outside and in the elements makes you a better athlete.

For more info on the 2010 Olympic Games (including athlete profiles for Steve and Katie), be sure to check out http://www.NBCOlympics.com or http://www.TeamUSA.org

Good Luck to the both of them!

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