The 12th Annual Grand Casino Mille Lacs Snow Kite Crossing is expected to attract top snow kiting men and women athletes from around the world, to compete in what’s considered the nation’s most challenging snow kite event. There will be several events from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 4-6 on Lake Mille Lacs, based out of Garrison.
Over the past 12 years, the Kite Crossing on Mille Lacs has attracted snow kite athletes to compete in its 28-mile race across the frozen expanse of Lake Mille Lacs. Races are on either a wakeboard type board or regular alpine skis, with a large kite “sail” harnessed to the riders for wind power. Last year, 104 riders competed.
The lake will come alive with kites with riders mainly from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Canada and around the country. This event is free for spectators to come along the shore or out on the ice to enjoy the colorful aerial displays.
Besides the two 14-mile Kite Crossing legs that define this event, over 75-100 participants will also compete in free-style events and shorter sprint races.
The sport started in Minnesota in the 1980s, and the first Kite Crossing was in 2004 on Lake Mille Lacs, the state’s second largest lake (14 miles wide, 20 miles long). Minneapolis-based event organizer Fleet 8’s Michael Fox, after 20 years of windsurfing crossings on Lake Mille Lacs, had the idea to apply the crossing idea to snowkiting. Today, it is the longest running snow kite event in the country, and, distance wise, the longest snow kite endurance race. There are 500-600 snow kiters in Minnesota.
For the competitors and families, there will be a welcome reception with live music Friday night, racing, events and large bonfire during the day on the lake Saturday and dinner awards party that evening, and more competition Sunday.
“With the sport showing continued growth locally and across the country, we are excited to again showcase the top snow kiters in North America in this dynamic sport, especially coming off the over 100 competitors last year at the Mille Lacs Kite Crossing,” said Michael Fox, of Fleet 8. “We have great sponsors, the competitors have a lot of fun in what is more like a festival atmosphere all weekend.”