Kites soar across frozen Mille Lacs Lake
Published on March 1st, 2020
Garrison, MN (March 1, 2020) – Mille Lacs Lake was a colorful sight this weekend, as racers taking part in the 16th annual Mille Lacs Kite Crossing sailed across its surface on skis and snowboards, powered by the wind.
Since 2005, the Mille Lacs Kite Crossing has been the premier snowkite competition event in North America, showcasing the best athletic talent in top kiters from over 13 countries and the US and Canada. The event is a three-day festival atmosphere of freestyle, short races, exhibitions, lessons, and the main event: a race across Lake Mille Lacs and back—approximately 28 Miles.
Tighe Belden is a kiteboarding promoter and longtime organizer and competitor at the Kite Crossing. Ahead of the event, he said conditions on the lake looked great, with good snow cover.
He described the nearly 28-mile over-and-back lake crossing as an endurance event, a “real thigh-burner” that feels — referencing downhill skiing and snowboarding — like going into a turn and then holding it. Winners compete for glory and recognition in an awards ceremony, as well as a modest $100 purse in the top level.
“When you’re out there riding the wind, the wind always has this wonderful personality to it,” he said. “Sometimes it’s a little bit gusty, and it’s kind of like you’re dancing with a partner. Those steady winds are always wonderful, but it’s always nice when there’s a little bit of change in the wind and you’re up making adjustments to ensure that you’re dancing well together.
“When it’s all harmonious, it’s very freeing. I love being out in the middle of Mille Lacs. When you have a blue sky overhead, it’s just blue sky and white as far as the eye can see. It’s just absolutely phenomenal.”