Red Lining the Fun Meter – 16h edition of the Montana Snowkite Rodeo
This year’s Rodeo was a fantastic experience of snowkite exuberance and celebration. For the dozens of like-minded kiters, who love snow and wind, we met up at the newly reopened Jackson Hot Spring Lodge in Jackson, Montana. There, the camaraderie overflowed and we partied nearly non-stop in the Lodge’s great room and in the hot springs.
The following day we struggled with cold temperatures and light wind at nearby Big Hole Pass. We made the best of it and by late afternoon had a roaring bonfire and a keg of Outlaw Brewing flowing in the cold air. That evening was another off-the-hook night of festivities at Jackson Hot Springs.
The second day was a completely different story. East wind filled in the Pass and we enjoyed a morning of free riding powder and Ozone kite demos before more serious activities started.
At high-noon the snowkite racing began and it was adrenaline-filled from start to finish. For the skiers, three laps around a fast and technical course saw multiple lead changes on multiple legs of the course. No one could be sure of the outcome. It was neck and neck racing and the ultimate victory was fair and undisputed. Three feet separated the winner, Duncan Browning, from second place, this writer. So much fun! The women’s ski winner, Jenny Milton, was third overall and she had a direct view of the competitive racing just ahead. Snowboard winner, Joe Irons, was not far behind Jenny.
Following the racing, a poker-run allowed everyone a chance to be a winner. The goal is to kite around the expanses of Big Hole Pass and pick up a colored card at each of five stations. A small cash buy-in was everyone’s chance to win the pot of gold. That night, at the Lodge, a fresh poker hand was dealt for each kiter and the winner was announced. Cash was handed out and the party continued!
A freestyle expression session was the last event of the day and with the sizeable kicker every boost and spin was judged for amplitude and purity of style. As close as it was, two friends, Josh Smith and Luke Orton, tied in the judges minds. Cash was king and the prize pot was split between the two victors.
As the sun slowly descended at Big Hole Pass, a handful of tireless regulars made lap after lap in the untracked snow that lay in deeply along the edges of the venue. It was a long day of free riding, racing, bragging rights and the enjoying the solidarity of the snowkite tribe.
Thanks go out the staff at Jackson Hot Springs for hosting this year’s Rodeo and to Ozone Kites for the selection of demo kites that brought smiles to the faces of everyone who flew them this weekend. For the new kiters who transitioned from two line trainers to flying the Ozone Access, they were the happiest kiters on the mountain.
See you at next year’s Rodeo!