Red Bull Ragnarok takes place on the plains of the Hardangervidda, a vast area with ideal conditions for snowkiting. The race format is a mass start, where over 350 snowboarders & skiers from over 29 nations gathered with their kites in the air about to embark on the huge challenge. With waxed skis for the deep soft snow, we all had our smaller kites. Guy got off to a great start and managed to hold his 12th position for the 5 hours. The course was ridiculous – long leg burning legs around gates that were on the ridge of steep mountain sides where winds were either blowing over 44knots with a snow storm or down in the valley dropping to 5knots & soft very sticky snow.
There is only 1 kite race like this and this pretty much describes it: “ 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”
For us, this was our 4th time to this inaugural event & it seems to become harder to complete the 130km course in under 5hours.
Without a caddy to help kite change, we decided the strategy of taking 9mtr foil kites with race bars for extra depower was a good compromise. Tom had his best one and half laps yet for any Ragnarok he has participated in: most of the time seen jumping off cliiffs & overhangs , as always making a game of the Terrain. Eric took an 8mtr inflatable & dialled into neally 3 laps in the 5 hours while also feeling frustrated that he could have used more kite in area’s.
Steph stared strong and had a small calamity with the kite on a steep ridge after gate 2, soon got back up in the game and then, like others struggled to find gate 4. Hidden behind a ridge and a long way downwind, the downwind snowkite to gate 4 was so Crazy fast amongst rocks and soft snow. Steph took the New North Ace foil kite in size 8.5mtr and finished the course in a heap saying’ I think I have hit the wall this time!” For steph, this challenge is totally strategic, endurance, mental, Physical & equipment driven. Decision making throughout the duration is crucial to decide whether to stay high & travel a longer distance or low for less wind & faster route. Also, with such soft conditions by the afternoon it was good tactics to get in the ‘groove’s now created by the sheer number of people using the plateau. Steph says ‘You are on your own out there, there is none to ask or buddies to help when your kite gets wrapped or someone crashes into you. You always need to be thinking one step ahead & look around to see what the other kiters are doing on each particular leg’. Next year I will use the GPS & have the co-ordinates of the gates plotted since it was crazy trying to find gate 4 & we all did way too much time looking for that on round 1. It is a long course so you can still win even if you have a kite mare or get lost as the clouds come inn. You really have to work with your mind & simply not give up since anything can happen in a 5 hour race”
As Guy says: ” this was the hardest Ragnorok I have done so far with such changeable conditions made the race incredibly challenging, with gusts of 44 knots at the top of the mountain and dropping down to two on the flat sections. However, it is not the one of the hardest snow kite races in the world for nothing it is meant to test you physically to the point where you cannot walk any more and mentally to the point which leaves you in doubt whether you can go for another lap”
Only 8 kiters finished all five laps, the winner was German Felix Kersten, who secured his second win in the men’s ski category with a winning time of 3 hours and 40 minutes – nearly 27 minutes ahead of second. This was neally 50km/hr which is an incredible and gives us all something to work towards. So, for 2018 we really hope to return to join this mass endurance event that puts us all to the test. A huge Thankyou to Red Bull Uk for their support, Haugastol for their huge hospitality and our partners Volvo, CAT Rugged Phones, Northkiteboarding & ION.