One of the most anticipated and spectator-friendly kite events of the year is only a week away. The Kite Clash Canadian Freestyle Championships, held in breathtaking Squamish, British Columbia, will take place August 26- 28th, 2016. The weekend will include the Canadian Freestyle Championships along with big air, freestyle, and twin tip slalom that are open to all. Rebecca Aldous fills us in on what to expect, below.

Four-time British Champion Lewis Crathern has a world map on his apartment wall. On it are marks of where he’s kited, and where he wants to kite – Canada was on the “to-do” list. Last year he checked it off when six-time Canadian champion Sam Medysky invited Crathern to Kite Clash, the Canadian Freestyle Championship, hosted in the small British Columbian town of Squamish. This year, Crathern’s coming back for more.

“(The first trip) led to me wanting to go back. It is in my top three places to kite,” Crathern said, noting Cape Town, South Africa, and his hometown of Worthing are also in that group. “(Squamish) is one of the most visually breathtaking places I have been kiteboarding at.”

While the community – which was named after the wind by the indigenous Squamish Nation – has been renowned as a climbing destination for close to a century, Steve Tulk is aiming to pin it on the kiteboarders’ radars. Four years ago, Steve Tulk founded Kite Clash. Besides the Canadian Freestyle Championships, the three-day event hosts a slew of open competitions, from big air to the twin tip slalom cross. At the time of its conception, there were no Canadian national championships across the country, Tulk said.

“The key for me it to make the event better every year and try and get it out there that Squamish is an amazing kiteboarding location,” he said. “People don’t know about it so much, but it’s world-class.”

Nestled between the mountains at the mouth of Howe Sound, Squamish is located along the route from Vancouver to the Whistler ski resort, which held the Winter Olympics in 2010. A thermal wind rushes up the Sea to Sky Corridor, making for reliable riding throughout the summer.

Kite Clash takes place in the area called the Squamish Spit, an outcrop at the end of a dike that runs along the Squamish River into the sea. What’s great about the location is the proximity of the viewing area to the athletes, Tulk said. With the stands placed beside the water, kiteboarders are only a finger-length away from the fans as they fly overhead.

“The Spit is just an amazing venue,” Tulk said. “I think that there is no other place in the world where the kiters are just so close to the crowd.”

Crathern said he originally anticipated gusty winds because of the mountainous terrain but was pleasantly surprise to be greeted by steady wind. Last year, he took the top spot in the big air competition and snagged silver in the open freestyle event.

“That was my best freestyle session I have ever had. I have never ridden better than that,” Crathern said, before quickly pointing out he was happy his buddy Medysky won the first place title. The two became friends a few years ago while sharing a room during Cape Town’s Red Bull King of the Air competition.

Crathern plans to be in Squamish for two weeks, commentating and riding in Kite Clash, which runs from Friday (Aug. 26) to Sunday (Aug. 28). He’s excited to see if Medysky can hold back the “kids” this year, earning himself a seventh championship title. “Six years in a row is pretty amazing and he’s going for his seventh. That is a draw for me.”

To sign up for Kite Clash or learn more about the event, find Kite Clash Squamish on Facebook.

Sun 21st Aug, 2016 @ 3:00 am

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