Man, you have to love the circular world of sports. Growing up in the 1980s, I remember seeing a lot of windsurfing on television and in magazines. More recently, though, it seems like that sport has been completely replaced by kite surfing, which is more versatile in wind conditions, easier to learn and more freeing.
On snow, the option was really snowkiting (i.e. snowbased kite surfing). But, a company called Kitewing has taken it old school and with a windsurfing-style sail for wind-boosted skiing and snowboarding, creating a combination that I can only call windsnurfing.
I've seen a few different wings show up recently in different forums and websites, so I knew it was time to post about the rad phenomenon. Unlike windsurfing sails, which attach directly to the board, the Kitewing is handheld and can be used across various terrains. Grab one for skiing or snowboarding on the snow, dirt-boarding on the dirt, ice skating on ice; surfing on the water, etc. etc.
The Kitewing requires winds of 10 mph or faster to get you moving. It will take experienced riders to speeds of over 60 mph and heights of up to 90 feet.
According to the Kitewing website, the original wing was actually invented and marketed back in the late-80s/early 90s. But it seems like it was slow to pick up because I haven't really seen any information about it until just recently. And I certainly haven't seen one at any ski resort or local snowkiting haunts.
The sport looks out and out fun, with the wing doubling as a wind sail and a hang glider for launching huge airs. It looks a little freer than snowkiting, which involves a multitude of kites, strings and harnesses locking you down.
Windsnurfing isn't for the faint of wallet. The wings I looked up all cost well over $1,000. But it sure looks like killer fun if you could find one for rental.
Right now it looks like distribution is limited to single retailers in a handful of states, but if this ever takes off, hopefully they'll be a little easier to find. Here's some nice video action: