“I think people are getting fed up with being inside and they want to go play outside,” Ducharme said. “And kitesurfing is just another excuse to be outside.”
“People who wouldn’t necessarily think about kiteboarding but love to ski and snowboard want to get out and ride,” said snowkite instructor Stanley Bocher.
Bocher, 30, started Pure Kiteboarding in August after COVID-19 closures wiped out his job as a card dealer at the Rideau Carleton Casino in Ottawa. He’s been an avid kitesurfer his entire life and had considered starting a business in the past. The pandemic provided a good opportunity.
He said he’s had no problems with provincial restrictions since snowkiting is an outdoor sport that can be done physically distanced. Bocher and his students mask up if they have to fasten equipment or exchange kite strings in close proximity.
Even when ski hills open again, Bocher isn’t concerned it will affect his business. “I think (snowkiting) is a different niche,” he said.
Abby Howard, 41, has had several lessons with Bocher on Britannia Bay this winter.
While Howard is still a beginner – learning how to control the kite before strapping on her skis – she said she’s enjoyed the experience.
“It’s exhilarating,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun, but you also have to appreciate it and respect that it is a sport that has a big learning curve.”
On a sunny winter day, with the kite in her hands, Howard said the feeling of “freedom” makes the activity even better.
“It’s very freeing and relaxing – that concept that you do what you want with it,” she said. “You’re not bound by the society that we have today – lineups and masks and rules.”
As well, “it’s really pretty to see the kites go by too, they’re all in an array of colours,” Howard said. “Even if you were to sit there and watch them, they’re very beautiful.”
Ducharme, who also works as a realtor in Gatineau, has been grateful to keep his kitesurfing business going – especially when so many other small businesses have been crippled by the pandemic.
“I feel very lucky, very privileged,” Ducharme said. “Tonnes of stores are really struggling and yet me, as a kitesurfing instructor, I’m taking almost advantage of this bad situation.”
What is snowkiting?
Snowkiting (also called winter kiteboarding or winter kitesurfing) is like summer kitesurfing, but done on snow or ice instead of water.
This content was originally published here.