The Redbull Ragnarok is supposed to be a tuff one, I can tell you it is (depending on which year you participate of course). The wind conditions at the Hardangervidda are always a big surprise. It can be really windy on one side while having lack of wind on the other. The challenge this year was a little of both; not to get blown of the mountain in the storm and not to get stuck in the valley without wind. Last year I was walking through some checkpoints, snowboarding downhill, dragging my kite to the next checkpoint, relaunching my kite a hundred times … This year, this year, you want believe it, prepared for everything. I was literally flying trough (over) the checkpoints… with a 5m (!). From zero knots up until more than 40 on top of the mountains.
“Welcome to the Redbull Ragnarok 2017”
Because of last year (2016) we (and I think a lot of other people) were prepared for a no wind, a climbing and walking race. Practicing your relaunch skills, your endurance, patient and snowboarding skills with a kite behind you. The forecast was the whole week changing and a little strange. From 50 knots to 0 knots, rain, sun, we have had it all the week before the event. I even practiced looping up and flying off the hill with the 15m Diablo. But also some powered runs with my 5m. I put some effort to become friends with the no wind valley and the big foil kites (with all that lines!), because of last year. I always have a little love-hate relationship with foil kites, sometimes they just do their own thing, I will never understand! The first time on skies and I must say even with zero wind you can go… BUT, with more wind a snowboard would be way more convenient instead of the skies. Well, we did subscribe for the skiing category this year. The first year back on race skies, a bit unsecure and with not that much preparation, because the whole winter I was kitesurfing in the Philippines… Lets go:
At the tourist center Haugastøl we had the race meeting the 1st of April. Unfortunately, it wasn`t a joke we really had to race this stormy day! Noooowayy! Down there we didn`t felt like there would be any wind up the mountains, but from out of experience and seeing the forecast it will be … windy, really windy!!!! A little scared what we would see up there in the mountains, we stepped in the bus heading to the competition area. Actually the wind wasn`t that strong (YET!) at the moment we arrived, just 5 minutes before the start the wind picked up and I was overpowered with my 7m. Not enjoying it at all.. the wind was just lifting me up and … I knew I wasn’t going to survive with a 7m (if it was more windy up in the mountains). Through all the 350 kites I made my slalom back and changed for the 5m. Even though the race was starting already.. I didn`t care. I followed the starting fleed into the valley trying to find the first checkpoint.
Due to that much wind we actually ended up….way to far upwind for the first checkpoint and we already met (the famous) checkpoint three once. Where it was really really (!) windy. In the famous pizza point and with a depowered 5m I slide downhill to find checkpoint 1. They warned us for the moss, actually there was almost no snow left at that mountain of checkpoint 1, it was pretty well hidden somewhere around the corner between the moss. The mountain was filled with kites everywhere crashing , dragging, flying, tangling… but I made my way through checkpoint 1. Pffiew, some more space. Checkpoint 2 was straight on the next mountain some km away. Slaloming trough the stones, made it to checkpoint two, an easy one. There it was soooooo windy as well and then … a surprise looking down a really steep slope. Trying to reach the depower, which was not working, someone popped up, saved me and pulled it for me (thanks). But we had to go down there? Uhh? Looks like it.. Looking a bit further down a saw all the released kites.. and then someone passing with 60 km /hour… how?(realizing he was on his second lap!!! – the winner of 2017) Before I noticed I already dropped myself down and with some speed I flew on to the next mountain…The famous checkpoint three again (!). Knowing it was really windy over there..
…There was even more wind now. Going uphill an being so overpowered… the snow and Ice were flying all over the place, I had to sit down a couple of times to wait and control my kite. To actually see something. Than the madness started, checkpoint 3 on that windy hill. Even more windy than the hour before we were there already. Slowly I came closer, seeing people sitting, releasing their kites, walking with their kites, giving up. I couldn`t go downwind, otherwise I was flying, and went more and more upwind, almost hitting the poles, cameraman and measuring material of checkpoint 3. With a lot of effort I made it through the checkpoint. Suddenly two other kiters loop through each other, just in front of me. I had two choices, sending my kite trough them as well, or steering my kite up. I had quiet some speed and I must say my kite was the boss not me. So I put it to 12…maybe not the best choice but at least no trouble with other people, just an adventure for myself. I was picked up by a gust and trough my skies uphill, braking I went spinning around under my kite, flying of the mountain.. off course I looped my kite by accident as well by not trying to hit the other two. Luckily I was saved by some camera and crew guys holding my legs and pulling me down while I was releasing my kite (which unfortunately was under my competition lycra!). They managed to get my skies of and get me back to earth. Still dragging behind my kite with some people on my feeds… and one faceplant later and I won the fight with my 5m & lycra thanks to all the help.
Normally I should have skied down to try to finish at least one round, since I like strong winds (and testing the limits). Now I think about it, have never been scared with a kite in my hands, but that time…I really hate it to give up on something if other people can finish. After flying around there I was too scared and the wind only seemed to be stronger and stronger. Still thinking about it, seeing other people coming up with a 8m.. I should have managed to go down as well.. My 46 kg couldn`t handle the 5m. Respect for the people who managed to complete the 5 rounds (or made it to checkpoint 3). Still thinking about going down and set up down in the valley again, if I give up now, why did I started at first?
Then I saw the orange 7m Enduro coming up the hill, so my mind said wait for him (I might have to help him). And that was the best of the whole day meeting each other there again! Having someone asking me why? Why do you have to go again, you don`t need to proof anything to anybody. Just be safe and have a really nice ride back, behind the snow scooter. That’s also a lifetime experience, thanks guys! 🙂
“Do you know the story of the #Redbullragnarok2017? Well that ended at checkpoint three. That doesn`t mean the game is over, it means come back with more experience see you next year #RedBullRagnarok2018! And checkpoint 3… can you be a bit nicer for us next time?”
Stort of the redbullragnarok2016?