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Friday, 27 January 2017 16:22
Snowkite Rally Set for February: Only Rally This Winter in the Northeast
SACANDAGA LAKE — No reality TV show can compare to watching an extreme sport live, and locals will get a chance to do that the weekend of February 18 through 20 at the Great Sacandaga Lake Snowkite Rally. “It makes me feel alive,” said Jean Dunoyer, who has been snowkiting for 8 years. “I think the feeling of going out into the great outdoors and finding a way to propel myself at high speed across a frozen landscape in a controlled and safe fashion is an immense challenge.” Presented by Kite Club NY, experienced snowkiters from hundreds of miles around will gather to showcase their skills traveling at heart-pumping speeds across the icy lake and snow, trying to break records reaching past 70 miles per hour. They will launch and land near the Lanzi’s on the Lake restaurant, where spectators can also gather to warm up. Beginners are welcome, but lessons are required. Christo Vetar, owner of Kite Club NY, is an instructor and will be providing lessons for those who arrange them in advance. He warned that this is not a sport the people can randomly show up to try. “And no one will give them their equipment to try it, either,” said Vetar. “It would be like giving someone an airplane to try.” Dunoyer, who is a cofounder of MassKiting.com, agrees. “It’s an extreme sport,” he said, “so it’s not something you can do casually like kicking around a soccer ball. When we’re kiting, we tie ourselves to the kite, and you can get dragged to places you don’t want to go and endanger people around you if you don’t know what you are doing.” But Dunoyer says for those who have kited, this event would be a great place to try out a new spot, connect with peers, make new friends, and meet old friends. He said the sport is very community-minded, which increases safety because everyone looks out for each other. “There’s an element of danger, and I say that to ward off people who think it’s pretty simple, and it looks like it is, but it takes many years and seasons to practice and get to the point of being proficient. It’s important to take stock of the conditions, assess the dangers, and take steps to mitigate those dangers. The result is an incredible day outdoors, with wind and gravitational forces pulling you this way and that way. It can be about speed or just going on a ‘stroll’ or achieving some tricks.” The kite functions like a sail, he said, but unlike a sail, it can be manipulated in radical motions so snowkiters can suddenly jump up to 20 feet in the air. He said the biggest thrill for him is realizing that snowkiting is one of the best ways to explore the wilderness, and plans to snowkite through mountains soon. “I heard this began when people were traveling in Antarctica to get to the South Pole and wanted to do it without motor assistance,” he said, “but hiking is exhausting, too, especially with all the weight of supplies and such. Employing a kite was a beautifully elegant solution.” Local snowkiters and those coming from as far away as North Carolina are gathering for this event, which Dunoyer said is the only snowkiting event this winter in the Northeast, other than in Quebec. A banquet is planned for Sunday night. For more information, or to sign up for lessons, visit www.kiteclubny.com or www.facebook.com/SacandagaSnowkite.