Addictive sport features speed, winter cold

Subzero wind chills? Kevin Cline would say it’s a great day to go paraskiing.

“It’s an addictive sport,” he says.

It must be to get paraskiing aficionados out on cold winter days — days that turn even more frigid in bone-chilling winds.

“The wind isn’t so bad,” Cline says. “You have to remember, it’s always at your back.”

When the snow is deep and winds pick up, Cline and several other hardy winter-sport enthusiasts can be found on state land just west of Billings’ Zimmerman Park, sailing along on their alpine skis with colorful kites providing the energy.

Cline caught the paraskiiing (also called kite-skiing) bug six years ago and spends hours at a time during his visits to the site that transforms into a bustling prairie dog community in other seasons.

On this 30-degree day, he had already logged 28 miles under his yellow and blue sail before a friend, Dan Kennedy, arrived for a lesson.

Kennedy had one warm-weather session on water some time ago and was going to give the snow version of the sport a try. He was advised that it might be better for his ailing spine — leaning back to control the sail rather than stooping forward in downhill skiing or snowboarding.

To get equipped for paraskiing/kiteskiing or kiteboarding on a snowboard, new or used gear is available for under $2,000, Cline says, adding that with access to a ski area so close to the city, it’s a terrific winter activity.

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