The game with the elements
Finnish snowkiter Anssi Pesonen loves being out in the elements. The feeling of mastering the wind. Of gliding over the ice at over 100 km/h. Enjoying the feeling of weightlessness during flight. And following the racing line through lustrous, white landscapes while drifting.
Dancing on ice
Snowkiting is one of the world’s most popular extreme sports. As adrenaline-charged as dancing on ice in the first fully-electric Porsche is an exciting fusion of paragliding, windsurfing and skiing. Whether it’s cruising on the powdery snow, freestyling with acrobatic leaps or chasing records in the speed discipline, the possibilities for ice-cold manoeuvres are practically endless.
The beginnings of a trend sport
Far better known than snowkiting is its direct predecessor – kitesurfing. However, as far back as the beginning of the last century, some daring souls took to their skis and sailed with the wind in the highlands of Germany. From these beginnings, the art of ski sailing came into being in the 1970s. A decade later came more and more attempts to be propelled by a steerable sail using all sorts of devices, such as canoes, water skis, alpine skis and roller skates. The experimental phase culminated in the development of the kite buggy. Once the first adventurers had conquered the beaches with this vehicle, surfers began looking at this technology. Kites are now even used on Arctic expeditions to save energy on the difficult trips.
Snowkiting is 80 per cent kiting and 20 per cent ski control
Snowkiting is a popular sport among early risers, as the wind conditions are best in the morning. This is why Anssi pumps up his tube chute before sunrise. With a harness that resembles the type used in climbing, he connects himself to the flying kite via 25-metre-long lines. "Snowkiting is 80 per cent kiting and 20 per cent ski control," says Anssi, bringing the kite into the power zone with a tug on the bar, the control element. He steers confidently into a perfect figure eight, the sine wave, and sets off.
Sine waves require a keen sense of the wind, a trained eye for the kite, strength, concentration – and perfect coordination of all of these skills. What appears easy feels for a beginner like unleashing the full power of the Taycan on a glassy sheet of ice. Anssi has loved this feeling ever since his older brother introduced him to the still young sport back in 2007. Whenever he has time, he goes to a frozen lake near his home town of Oulu in winter. Sailing close to the wind, his years of experience are evident with every move. In the famous Ragnarok race with 300 participants, these skills got him into the top 40, making him the highest-placed Finn in the event.
Perfect conditions for Anssi’s speciality
Maintaining his focus, he keeps the kite in the wind window, in the centre of which the wind is strongest. Double the wind speed means quadruple the force. These are the perfect conditions for his speciality – speed kiting, a daring combination of snowkiting and paragliding. The premier discipline of winter kiting. His personal record is an impressive 104.8 km/h.
"It’s all about finding the right spots," says Anssi, after he comes to a stop before the Taycan with a skilful drift. "You need to find a place where the wind is blowing in the optimal direction." Fortunately, there are lots of places like this in Finland, including many still to be discovered. Hardangervidda in Norway and Col du Lautaret in France are also perfect places for snowkiting. Before setting off on his next record attempt, Anssi climbs inside the electric Taycan and shows that he is also immediately in his element here.
It’s all about finding the right spots