Snowkiter embraces Whistler opportunities 

Czech man enjoying second winter in resort

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF PETR CHAJDA - Flying high Petr Chajda, shown in a 2016 shoot, loves snowkiting in Whistler.
  • Photo courtesy of Petr Chajda
  • Flying high Petr Chajda, shown in a 2016 shoot, loves snowkiting in Whistler.

Maybe you've seen Petr Chajda on Green Lake.

Or, last month, perhaps you spotted him up in Flute Bowl.

And if you've seen him, it was probably because of his massive kite.

The Czech man, enjoying his second winter in Whistler, explained he had wide-open fields in which to kite near his home, but when conditions deteriorated, decided to come across the pond for some new terrain.

"The last three years, there was nothing, so my friend invited me to Canada, so I just said 'Yeah, why not? There's no snow, so let's go to Canada," said Chajda, who has kited for roughly 15 years. "If I go kiting, I would prefer to go to mountains because the terrain has little mountains, little hills, little flats and at home, we ride around in the field because we don't have that many mountains."

While spots like Green Lake are fairly accessible, Chajda explained that more often than not, those interested in the activity have to make their way up the mountain. The bonus, he noted, is that once he's found a spot to do it, it's not too hard to conserve energy.

"These days, there are less and less spots with fresh snow, so you need to hike more and wander down the mountains. For snowkiting, we use fields or flat spots with small hills," he said. "You just hook yourself to a chicken loop and you just go up, down, left, right. There's not much energy as (compared to) if you were touring."

Flatter areas, like on Green Lake, are good for those just starting out, but Chajda said he's scouted out a number of spots in and around the resort to try when weather conditions are right.

"We get bored after a while just riding right and left, right and left, so here in the mountains, there are a few good spots," he said. "It's just all about the wind and the weather, if it's sunny and if the wind blows from certain directions, you follow these conditions and you pick the place.

"There are about three or four spots for every single wind direction I like to go where it's windy."

When up in Flute Bowl last month, Chajda and friends were filming a video of the action. Past instalments have garnered them upwards of 20,000 views, but Chajda explained they're fairly simple shots. The newest video is online at vimeo.com/206026435.

"They're just filmed on a mobile phone because I lost my GoPro in Mexico while surfing," he said.

While kiting in general is fairly popular in the Sea to Sky, most people in the region often tend to go to Squamish to kiteboard on the water.

"I don't think many of them do snowkiting because they are all skiers and if there's a powder day, they always go for touring over kiteboarding. It's understandable," he said.

Chajda said the promise of powder days can make it hard to wrangle friends to go with him, but he can usually convince someone to come along, take part, and also serve as a spotter for safety's sake.

He also said he usually keeps his tricks fairly simple with minimal risk, especially when on the mountains.

"If you fall from a big height to the water, it's not that painful, but if you do the same thing on the snow, even if it's powder (it is dangerous)," he said. "I like to do just grabs, simple things. But those tricks we do on water, we don't usually do on the slopes because it's dangerous."

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