Wednesday, April 8, 2015

RedBull Ragnarok KiteRace of Norway is Back!

James Pavoldi

It is on in Haugastøl!

Last year was an amazing event and though light winds kept a few of us anchored nicely for most of the day, it officially made the Ozone Chrono one of the most famous kites on the ice this year after taking 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place on the Hardangarvidda.


While Ozone definitely had it's moment on the podium, Flysurfer's moment may be a bit more eternal as their team rider, Alex Robin (15th), managed to put together one of the best videos to really capture the vibe of the Ragnarok experience and poke some holes in my tales of lacking wind... As you can see, he managed to find the wind and really run with it:


Videographer "Zobless" did the best job of capturing the pain at the first checkpoint. After years of watching Hardangarvidda horror videos of storms and overpowering wind, I remember tearing out of the gate and thinking "my gosh this is going to be easier than I imagined" but man was I forced to swallow a bitter pill when I ended up covered in sweat and making snow angels after about 30 'reverse hot carl' center-line relaunches in light wind. My biggest concern was getting overpowered with a 12M Cabrinha Switchblade but Zobless summed it up nicely - "Cronos (sic) took the lead, most of the others crashed. The wind was light and died a bit more right after start.":


Hopefully the conditions this year are a bit more like 2012:


For those of you arriving at Touriscenter for the party tonight, go outside and take a look at the rocky beheomoth across the street - This was the site of Rueben's 'jump' a few years back... Insane:


The weather on the race day in 2014, was amazing, if your goal was chilling out and getting some sun or a few rojo-vodaks on board. We got a few selfies in and barely had enough wind to get the old Team Whisky Tango flag turgid enough for a moon landing shot.

Whiskey Tango Kite Racing Team USA
Team Whiskey Tango, Red Bull Ragnarok (Jim Pavoldi and Jeff Bartkowski, USA)
The weather on the Hardangarvidda can change pretty quickly. After the race was over, I went back alone to an area on the opposite side of the road past the yellow lodge I knicknamed the "Hardangarvidda Hideaway". Heaven by the way, comes with tracked vehicles and the owner of the rig below was en route to a reindeer hunt and took some time to tell us a few stories... The sunshine we enjoyed here over some bananas and yogurt would be nothing but a memory in pretty short order...

Hardangarvidda Hideout, complete with heated troop carrier...
It didn't take long for the weather to change... The photo below was during a full day solo after the races where a tiny storm blew in and was enough to get visibility down to Game of Thrones / WhiteWalker creepiness levels... In the video, you can see that it's pretty easy to get disoriented and I noted that soloing definitely requires not only GPS, but a good map (with contour lines) and compass as this is not a good place to get lost and a 'crows flight' egress may not be possible... I took one surprising slide down a  pretty big slope, ass backwards, as I had no idea it was coming... Visibility was poor, but if I were focused I would have seen it coming...  Instead, I was fixated on wind speed as it was dropping fast and I didn't want to tent inside the kite if I got stranded out there as I reckon I was about 6 miles in and definitely was not going to hike out in the dark in ski boots.

Solo Snowkiting the Hardangarvidda in Norway after Red Bull Ragnarok
Jim Pavoldi, Solo Snowkiting in Norway

Jeff is in Paris now, having just proposed to his (as of now) fiancee and en route to Oslo as we speak. The proposal didn't delay him, but Air France's decision to lose his brand new Chrono definitely had some serious curve-ball potential. I am shanghai'd in New York City right now, en route to Miami and chewing through my lips with regret at not being able to get on the snow with Red Bull for 2015!

Good luck competitors!

Race vest, badge and 'proofing' transponder for the gates..

Norway Redbull Ragnarok


Hardangarvidda, Norway
Bring me back some cod shingles!
Update - The official 2015 teaser video and event description... Good luck out there today!

"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 successfully complete the course.

Red Bull Ragnarok will take place on the plains of the Hardangervidda, a vast area with ideal conditions for kiting. The race format will be a mass start, where each participant must complete five full rounds of the chosen course (one lap = 15-20km) using only their kite, and either skis or snowboard."