VICTORY IN IDAHO

When the snow is good and the wind is blowing, its tough to find a snowkite location as good as the Camas Prairie in Southern Idaho. February 25th-27th marked the 5th annual Kite Soldiers event and the Championship stop on the North American Snowkite Tour. Athletes representing countries such as Russia, Norway, Canada and the US, came together for what many said was the best day of snowkiting they have had all year long.
After a windless first day, riders woke to a fresh layer of snow and a forecast that looked hopeful for afternoon wind. Sure enough, just before noon, the wind ramped up and the comp was ready to go. Event directors Monty Goldman and Trisha Smith started the day with a course race. After three stops on the NAST Tour, many had their eyes on Jon McCabe, Ken Lucas and Tyler Brown to be the obvious winners but this event had a wild card. Florida boy, Damien Leroy, a professional water kiter and America’s top Kite Course racer decided to try his luck with racing on snow. To everyone’s surprise, he took two first place victories and credits his wins to having a fast kite, good course racing knowledge and a background with years of ski racing behind him.
When it came to the snowboard heats, each rider looked for any advantage they could find in the light wind conditions. Best team rider, Jacob Buzianis rode with 40 meter lines to get added power in his stroke but later said it was almost too much power. Utah local and North team rider Billy Bordy grabbed his trusted 200cm snowboard and proved he was the fasted man on snow with 2 victories back to back. 2nd place ended up in a tie after two races between Jacob Buzianis and myself. Each heat we were only separated by mere inches and with all of contact involved you would have though it was more like a border cross than a course race, but that made it even more exciting especially when we crashed through the finish line taking out the finish line flag, a videographer, and NAST judge Nic O’Neill.
Event Director Trisha Smith got out there and charged the race course in the women’s ski heat but was pinched out by tour winner Melissa Cronin. New to the snowkite scene was Bellingham Local Colleen Carroll and with her strong snowboarding background, she shined after charging the course full speed ahead and walked with a victory as well.
With course racing in the books it was time to start the Snowkite Soldiers famous Poker Run. 5 flags were placed over a few square miles of rolling hills and it was up to the riders to try and find each of the flags. At each flag, riders would receive a playing card and after completing the 5 flag course, the rider with the best poker hand would win. In the end, it was Dr Dan from Montana who walked with a brand new custom Decosse kite-snowboard. But what makes the Poker run so great is it gets new snowkiters to travel just a bit further that they regularly would. Each flag is just over the next hill and before they knew it, they were a few miles into the backcountry.
After everyone received all of their cards, most riders took advantage of the fresh snow and cruised through the rolling terrain. Others continued to ride the slider and kicker in the park and while I was playing around in the backcountry, I watched Jacob Buzianis disappear from the pack and start heading for the hills. Minutes later he was at the base of a 1500 foot mountain with a 30 degrees face. I stopped and watched him loop and climb over and over again. What would have taken me over 2 hours to climb by foot, Jake ascended this face in just over 5 minutes. That’s what is so great about the Camas Prarie, it caters to new kiters and the best riders in the world all in the same location.
On the final day, the wind was sub-par for holding a legitimate freestyle event so the awards ceremonies began for both the Kite Soldiers participants and overall North American Snowkite Tour leaders. This wrapped up the first season of the Tour where good times were had and much was learned. But most importantly, it was good to see the core snowkite community come together and put on a show we can be proud of. The great thing is, each year its just going to keep getting bigger and better.
Source: New Kiteboarding Mag website

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