Though snowkiting is a fairly new sport, the practice of using a kite as transport over snow is not new. Adventurers such as polar kite-ski explorer Fiona Lindsay have used similar kites in antarctic and arctic expeditions to pull sleds loaded with provisions across flat, frozen landscapes.
Open and Closed Cell Foils
There are two main types of kites used for pulling snowboards: ones with open cell foils and ones with closed cell foils. Closed cell kites are also called leading edge inflatables, or LEIs. These are for more-advanced kite boarders. Open cell kites are lighter and easier to control.
There are two main shapes of snowkites: bow-shaped and C-shaped. C-shaped kites are meant for picking up more wind on flatter areas. Bow-shaped kites are newer in design. They are more difficult to learn, but are safer.
Kites are manufactured in a variety of sizes and are typically measured in meters wide. The smallest are 2 to 3 meters wide. Larger ones can be up to 15 meters. The smaller the kite, the easier it is to handle.
Many kites today are designed with safety systems and technical harnesses. With the right-sized kite on the right day, snowboarders can reach 50 miles per hour. Top brands such as Ozone make kites with a control bar for the rider to hang onto, and which has a release that can either detach the kite from the harness or stall it.