Words By: Stuart Penny Photos By: Sean Naugle
Hang around the riders of the North American Snowkite Tour and you’ll quickly learn that every snowkiter is searching for a “sickbird.” A day where the sky’s are blue (aka- a bluebird day) and the conditions are sick (aka- powder and steady winds all day). This is exactly what happened in the back country of Bonderant, WY. A little town just outside of Jackson Hole with a population of 100, although even that seems to be stretching it some. Small town or not, the goods got delivered on Friday, with deep powder and steady winds and it was hard to find anyone who wasn’t absolutely killing it. Saturday was just as sick, but with drifting clouds allowing the sun to poke through most of the day, and it does not get the coveted title of being a “sickbird.” Brad Gordon said it best, when commenting later, “this is one of maybe only twelve days a year, when all the conditions line up perfectly enough to be called a “sickbird” and it’s what a snowkiter chases every season.” I think a surfer would call it the “perfect wave” day and from my vantage point behind the camera, these guys were flat out “smacking the lip”, if you get my drift.
Speaking of drifts, there were plenty of them. Snowdrifts that is, and this pumped up crew was only too happy to shred them all! My favorite moment of the day was watching Luke Orton, blow up the powder on a cornice like it was the 4th of July. He wasn’t the only one either. I could name kiter after kiter that laid it down with fresh tracks, pulling the trigger on power loops, and pushing each other to give even more. I am so stoked that we are this early in the season and these guys are already setting such an aggressive pace.
Sunset on Saturday marked the end of this stop on the tour for both the snowkiters and the media team alike. Cinematographer, Bryant Swanstrom and photographer, Sean Naugle from Black Owl Media, were a pleasure for me to work with for our first time together and I look forward to continuing to film with these guys all season. They not only put it out huge for these riders during production to capture the action but their tireless attention to detail in post are giving this year’s media coverage a much needed shot in the arm and leg and neck and,…. well you get the idea. Look for Bryant to release a piece of the action later this week, but I must warn you. If you’re not already on the tour with us this year, you may soon have to be. Truly a lifestyle worth living as you will soon see.
The event ended Saturday night with everyone enjoying a little of that lifestyle in downtown Jackson Hole. Beer, pizza, and a few laughs seem to have been a perfect ending to the week before moving on to the next leg of the tour. Although, officially everyone is headed to Skyline, Utah for the next stop, don’t be surprised if you see these guys making tracks along the way. I’ve heard talk in the wind of a day or two in Idaho. Even on a scheduled day off, many kiters heading north of Jackson Hole today to enjoy a sunset session before heading out tomorrow. No rest for the wicked.