When Marie-Eve Mayrand crossed the finish line in first place while completing her first Red Bull Ragnarok snowkiting race back in 2016, she was surprised to take the win and consequently became completely hooked on the competitive draw of endurance snowkite races. Returning in 2017 and 2018 for podium finishes, Marie-Eve is a demonstration of drive, discipline and commitment to progression. The evolution of her kiteboarding career started out slow and deliberate, yet the addictive forces of backcountry snowkiting have launched her into the deep end of all kiteboarding disciplines.
While Marie-Eve excels at everything from stylish freestyle grabs in laced-up boots to hot laps on the hydrofoil racecourse at a regional level, her true love is snowkiting in the mountains, which draws on her original passion for snowboarding. Coming from a small town outside of Quebec City, Marie-Eve started out skiing but was introduced to the speed and glide of snowboarding in its early days and quickly became obsessed. Her boyfriend at the time, now husband, was learning to paraglide, and when snowkiting came along, the two of them found the pull of kites on snow to be a natural progression.
They played with trainer kites for two summers in Quebec before buying a ParaskiFlex, a French Canadian traction kite built for touring with an extremely low aspect bulbous shape and awkward depower. At first, Marie-Eve didn’t know how to read a forecast, so she and her boyfriend would spend their weekends in a field waiting for wind. Having bought her first true foil kite, an early model Flysurfer, the improved efficiency and high-performance power seemed scary compared to her original touring kite, but with persistence, she continued to master the foil on snow and eventually set about trying to learn on water.
After obtaining her Master’s Degree in Business Marketing and Administration, Marie-Eve spent her early kiteboarding years managing an 80-hour week job with one of the big four accounting firms in Calgary, but with Alberta’s sporadic wind conditions and large distances between kite spots, she struggled to find the water time needed to master kiteboarding. Having traveled to Maui, Vietnam, Honduras and Turks and Caicos for lessons and progression, at 5’2” with a petite frame, Marie-Eve recounts how most of her kite teachers were men with a propensity to put her on kites that were too big for her. “I scared myself many times and made all the mistakes I could,” she recalls, but eventually, her foreign travels taught her how to stay upwind.
When the economy in Calgary tanked, Marie-Eve took a break from the corporate world which provided optimal timing to train harder for long-distance snowkite races. Competing at Canada’s Red Bull Kite Farm ignited her dreams of attending Norway’s Ragnarok event. Dedicating herself to a standard regimen of five-hour sessions in the gusty, strong and constantly changing wind conditions of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, she was constantly learning. Marie-Eve notes, “It’s all about training, being stubborn and going no matter what the day.” With a combination of perseverance, smart tactical decisions and top of the line equipment, she was able to beat well-known kiters to the top position at the 2016 Ragnarok and remain a fixture on the Red Bull snowkite podiums in the years that followed. In 2019, Marie-Eve turned her attention to the Varanger Arctic Kite Enduro (VAKE), a competitive snowkite expedition in which teams of two must carry a sled and food for five days across 186 miles of Norway’s Arctic. “It’s a big expedition, and you have to do it on skis,” Marie-Eve explains her complete transition from snowboarding to a pair of planks. “The VAKE requires proper training, really good fitness, the ability to hike when it’s not windy and general expedition skills like mountain navigation and self-sufficiency.” With her second attempt at the Varanger Enduro canceled by the pandemic, Marie-Eve is eagerly anticipating the next event in 2022.
Having filled her employment furlough with snowkiting, Marie-Eve half-heartedly applied for corporate jobs, but when she was offered the opportunity to lead the North American sales effort for Flysurfer, it was an absolute no-brainer. She laughs, “Most of the time, the big pro riders have this kind of job, but in reality, it requires discipline and a lot of computer time.” Using her flexibility to train in the Rocky Mountains and chase wind around the world, Marie-Eve participates in regional contests and embraces every aspect of kiteboarding from freeride twin tip riding to unhooked freestyle, surfing, hydrofoil racing and now wingsurfing. Humble to a fault, yet driven to her core, Marie-Eve’s appetite for adventure will be worth following when the world spins back up to normal.
This article was featured in our fall 2021 issue, Vol. 18, No. 3. To read more, click here.
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