One crazy start line... But not much carnage!
For the past few years the Red Bull Ragnarok has been the standout event in the snow kiting calendar. This year was no exception.
Imagine a start line with 240 kites, 20 knots and temperatures around freezing. Not the most inviting of scenes, but that's what competitors were faced with at the start of the 2012 Red Bull Ragnarok in Norway. The annual event attracts all kinds of kiteboarders from all over the world to see who's the fastest in the snow. This year the local boys took all three places on the podium despite all kinds of big names being in attendance. Faces like Ruben Lenten, Susi Mai and Bruna Kaija all fell victim to their lack of experience in the challenging conditions, leaving first place to local snowkiter Remi Meum.
Red Bull describe the event by saying,
"The name "Ragnarok" stems from an incident in Norse mythology, describing the last battle between the good and evil Gods, where only the heroes of the battlefield survive.
Red Bull Ragnarok imitates this myth in the respect that only a mere few snow-kite heroes will succeed. Endurance is paramount, and only the toughest riders will make it to the finish line."
The event sounds every bit as serious as they intend, and for most riders the most difficult obstacle to overcome is their stamina. Gear choice is also important, with rigging too small or to big a kite a worrying thought, especially since there's no chance to change mid race. Ruben Lenten got caught out with this last year when he rigged too small. This year he wasn't taking the chance and took a 13m in 20 knots. A recipe that didn't prove to be race winning, but kept him in the running and allowed him to finish in a respectful position.
Like every year, the action isn't just on the race course. Before the event started Ozone rider Marek 'Murphy' Zack put on a great show for the crowd, when he kited up a nearby hill then proceeded to boost off the top, gain height for a while using the updraft and then glided out over the entire crowd (and a house) while he was still around 30m up. Check out the video below, but don't try this at home!
Red Bull also released a great video of the event on their website. Narrated by Ruben Lenten, it shows how gruelling the event really is, but there's some amazing footage of the start line in there so check it out here.