Excelsior Brewing SnowKite Open

Time and time again, I am reminded that these events are really not about the wind, or the race, or the competition. What they are about is coming together as community, to share in some play in the wind, to tell stories, to BS beyond belief, to be silly, and to hang with our fellow wind riders. Yesterdays Excelsior Brewing Snowkite Open had a few misfortunate challenges and… the lake was filled with smiles.  It was sunny, it was breezy, we were all together…nothing could phase us.P1090677

It was about a decade ago, on this same weekend we had the last KiteFreeze on Lake Minnetonka.  Excelsior Brewing stepped up this year and brought Snowkite events back to the Twin Cities and Lake Minnetonka. They’ve been doing some other events throughout the year, including a fat tire race on the ice, ski races etc. so they have a lot of the logistics down.  It was a perfect fit and a passion of John Klick’s. Excelsion Bay is the perfect venue for sponsors with visibility from downtown Excelsior and access to the massive lake of Minnetonka.

It was sunny, it was breezy, we were all together…nothing could phase us.

Conditions were questionable as we approached the date.  A little bit of snow a few days before helped.  And the forecast bump up early Saturday morning made the difference between riding and not.  The wind was blowing at sun up and would continue on and off through mid afternoon.  Temps were warming up and we’d have sun on and off through the day.

P1090593Unfortunately right at the start time, the Sheriff said all cars had to be removed from the ice.  There was a collective sigh.  This winter’s warm weather has created new concerns for events on the ice.  After a short delay we were good to go again.  The wind had started to fluctuate from ridable to almost non existent.  It was a bit of work but riders made the journey out across the lake.  At times taking breaks, waiting for the wind to return, to get them up and going again.  At other times ripping along fully powered on their big kites.

Scott Chapman Photo

Scott Chapman Photo

It was absolutely beautiful out on the big lake.  The snow was flat and fast, the sky overhead was textured like a skin of white cracking to show the deep blue upper layer.   Moments were shared “out there”,  whether conversing across the silence out on the big lake with kites resting on the snow, or passing another rider on the opposite tack.  Something about sharing the challenge together was bonding.

As the afternoon moved on, the wind started to drop quickly.  Those that got a later start, were challenged at the end, and a few walked their kites through the gate…still a champion for completing the course.

For me personally it was about the energy in air.  So many smiles, so many high fives, so many hugs.  There were a lot of small groups of riders that formed out the ice and in the bar, I only had the opportunity to join a few and took a few shots.

The brewery was hopping post race.  Great vibe for sure.  Great music, great beer, general silliness.  Loved seeing significant others and children join their racer in celebration of their feat.

Looking forward to next year.  I’m hoping this will continue to grow into a signature event for us.

Big thanks to Excelsior Brewing, Gopher State Events, Slingshot Kiteboarding, Cabrinha, and EzTeez for their generous support of this event

A few shots from yesterday. Never enough time to get around and get shots of everyone…specially when I want to race myself.  There were a ton of other real photographers out there so hopefully we’ll see some of those come online in the next few days.   I’ve included some from Bob Schneider and Gopher State Events, and some from Scott Chapman’s drone as well.

About the author


Tighe Belden has been riding the wind for over 30 years. He has been active in the windsport community for over 3 decades, as an instructor, event coordinator, creator of Lakawa and now End of Session, and stokes people on the latest gear as a Tech Ambassador for Slingshot Sports.