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The Mille Lacs Kite Crossing wrapped up its 11th annual event from March 6-8 this year in Garrison, Minnesota on Mille Lacs Lake with great success. Sunshine and 16-25 mph winds greeted 104 racers in the chilly northern climes to test their luck at the 14 mile course.


Event organizers say the energy had been building for the event throughout the winter. The success of last year’s 10th annual event was still on everyone’s mind, and the recent addition of key sponsors added energy to the festivities. In the week before the event, forecasts were looking good, temps were near ideal, fresh snow came the week earlier, and isobars were lining up across the northern part of the state.


As with any kite event, you plan for the best conditions and get ready to roll with whatever mother nature gives you — but this year’s conditions were off the hook. Three days of sun with temps just below freezing, wind in the high teens to low 20s, and a well-supported event with hundreds of happy riders and racers.



Friday was a set-up and freeride day.  A small crew groomed a large area the size of a few football fields for the terrain park, and large kickers were created. A Canadian crew rolled in bringing their usual nutty humor and big smiles. Riders were out hitting natural kickers and small ice heaves that dotted that large ice sheet. As the sunset shadows got longer, everything took on a warm glow, and that familiar gradient from the blue overhead to the fusia horizon meant it was time to pack up. A Friday night welcome party followed shortly thereafter with live music, great stories and bar tabs to match.



The wind looked good on Saturday and there was an early decision that this was race day. Cars streamed out to the event site just over a mile from shore. The Redbull spider tent was the epicenter of the venue and the feather flags from sponsors were fluttering like mad and bent downwind. The sound of pumps filled the air. Soon the venue transformed from a white landscape to color everywhere: on the ground, overhead, and stretching out into the horizon.

Marty-Roy (1)

Riders were stoked to get out on the course and ride. After a few rules at the racers meeting, everyone was off to the starting line. Chip timing did not require a rush to the start, but there was a big crew that wanted to get out in front.


After the horns, the pack spread out quickly across the open race expanse. Racers sliced out across the nearly flat lake. Those who had invested in new race foils and long race skis clearly had the advantage and ripped by recreational riders. The sky was pure blue, without a cloud.

Hoots and hollers were heard as riders passed one another. After looping around the outside mark the trek back seemed daunting for most. The angle of attack had kites lining up with the sun and leaving kiters riding in the shadow of their own kite. The fastest riders finished the 14 mile trek in just under 30 minutes, which clocks them averaging nearly 30 miles an hour.


After the race, many kept riding and many took a long break. The social hour was hopping with great tunes, grills and brews. The show in the terrain park just a few feet away was also spectacular. Big lofty floaters.


Later in the afternoon, a local sponsor Sociable Ciderworks, hosted a LaManns style race: rig, ride, derig, chug. It was a short course and fairly exciting to watch, as kites had minimal air in them, and they were repacked “rather loosely”. The first-ever tandem racing also took place later in the day, with one kiter in front and another rider extended 20 ft back, on a board, or skis or sled. This got pretty serious as riders were lofted while they looped around the outer turn at high speeds. A lot of strategy was discussed amongst competitors hoping to obtain the top spot.


Finally, the familiar hissing prevailed as kites were taken down for the day. Things were packed up and cars streamed off the ice. Those who kept riding into the sunset were treated to a warm glow and steady winds.  That night, an event banquet — always a highlight of the weekend — took place to feed the hungry racers and riders. Awards were given to the podium positions, including two to the events youngest riders, aged 11 and 13.



The day after the race and banquet tend to be lazy days. This year’s event was fortunate enough to see another great day of riding, as the winds were up in the upper teens again on Sunday. Lakawa Kiteboarding, Dynamik kiteboarding and HQ kites were giving gear demos. Everyone enjoyed working out the kinks from the day before and hanging in the sun and warm temps.

The Mille Lacs Kite Crossing is the longest running snowkite event in the country, and every year has been a different event with mother nature being consistently inconsistent. This year, however, everything came together (conditions, participants, community and sponsors) to achieve what (more than one person expressed) was the “absolute best crossing, ever”.

For more information on the Mille Lacs Kite Crossing, visit their website.


Mens Ski
Chris Krug
Jon Stroh
Mike Kratochwill

Mens Snowboard
Nathan Borer
Justin Specht
Todd Hanson

Womens Snowboard
Vicky Hanson
Katie Egle
Megan Beisner

Womens Ski
Molly Savard
Lizzy Wilkins
Kate Perkins

Nierenhausen, Peter
Nierenhausen, Nick