Learning to kite board
We spent 4 days in Ylläs with the guys from Lappis kiteschool (check them out here http://www.lappis.fi/index.php/leijahiihtokurssit-helsinki-viima-kiteboarding/)
We had the choice of skis or snowboard, we were told that it was easier to get up and running on skis but I think because I'm a lot more comfortable on a board I thought I would feel better on that. We would be using a nice big frozen lake as our classroom for the wind, with some fresh snow it made the trek from the cars into the middle of the lake pretty labouring. All the good reindeer stews and hot chocolates from the last 3 months were making sure I sank just that bit further into the snow.
Learning the basics | 3m kite
We started off with the smaller 3 metre kites so that we could just get used to handling them a bit, my dad actually owns one of these so I'd used one before. They are nice and easy to get up In the air and its gives you a good understanding of the power and control needed. The wind wasn't particularly strong, but if you caught it right you could get quite a good bit of power from it, the other technique was to use the kites movement to create power by diving.
Next step | 12m kite
So next we pumped up the inflatable 12m kites, these were SO much bigger. We had to attach again harness to our waists that would also be attached to the kite. This was getting a bit serious. For the first few goes thankfully I had the help of the instructors holding on to the back of me so I didn't go flying in the air. The steering on the small kite is quote simple and it makes sense having to pull the different ends of the bar to direct the kite, but the big one also had this feature that you could also push & pull the bar back and forth. Took some while to get my head around. This is where I spent most of my time (see picture) eating snow.
Fingers crossed for wind
For the next few days I found myself praying for something that I'm normally not a fan of - wind! I had already noticed that Finland really didn't seem to get much wind...not compared to the UK anyway. But whilst killing time we came up with various ways to entertain ourselves...deep snow is perfect for practising the dream goal - a scorpion shot!
When the wind did pick up we strapped on our boards and spent hours face planting over and over again until something just clicked....I know that is no use to anyone learning but thats how it happened. Once you have lift off and manage to control it your away! Thats when the real run starts, its just a game of balancing the kite and making sure you're fairly stable on the board. Its surprising how far you can get once you're up and running. Both Matias and I didn't consider the fact that we hadn't learnt how to go the other way....so after dragging out kite and board back to the group we were both half dead.
Unfortunately our luck with the wind ran out so we had to cut the final day short, it was a real shame because I really felt like I was getting somewhere and was ready to try some small jumps! But hey you can't control nature.
Instead with the afternoon I grabbed my board and ran towards the Ylläs slopes that had been tempting me for days! Having skied a bit in Pyhä it was nice to check out some new slopes. Yllas was much bigger and had a lot more to offer, we had a great afternoon bombing around and later were treated to the Sauna Gondola. I'd never imagined sitting half naked whilst heading up the slopes but hey the Finns really will have a sauna anywhere.