Kite boarding, also called snowkiting, is fast becoming a popular winter sport. These kites are specially designed to be used by snowboarders and skiers, and even on perfectly flat terrain they can reach 50 miles per hour with the aid of wind.
The two main types of kites for snowkiting are ones with open cell foils and ones with closed cell foils (also known as LEI's or leading edge inflatable). Closed cell kites are for more advanced kite boarders and open cell kites, being lighter, are better for beginners.
Shapes of snowkites fall into two categories; Bow-shaped or C-shaped. C-shaped kites pick up more wind on flatter areas. Bow-shaped kites can be safer, though this recent design is more technical at first.
There are a variety of sizes, measured in meters wide from two to three meters up to 15 meters. As snowboarders or skiers learn to snowkite they will start out with a smaller kite, and can advance to larger kites when more experienced.
Most of these kites are created with safety systems including a harness. Leading brands such as Ozone manufacture kites with a control bar for the rider to grip onto with a release which can either disconnect the kite from the harness or halt the kite.
Though modern snowkiting as a sport has really just begun to appear over the last decade, using a kite as transport over snow is not entirely new. Explorers have used these types of kites in snowy regions, such as the arctic, for many decades.