Red Bull Ragnarok 2016: Calgarian takes world snowkiting gold in Norway

Calgarian Marie-Eve Mayrand has taken gold in the Red Bull Ragnarok 2016 world snowkite race in Norway after some intense competition.

Some consider it the world’s toughest snowkite competition

The goal is to complete five laps around 20 kilometres which can take up to five hours in gruelling conditions like blizzards, extreme cold, challenging terrain and snow. (Håkon Mæland/Red Bull Content Pool)

Calgarian Marie-Eve Mayrand won gold in the Red Bull Ragnarok 2016 world snowkite race in Norway after some intense competition.

What some consider the world's toughest snowkite competition, the event draws 350 kiters from 30 countries.

"It was not easy," Mayrand said.

"The first lap took almost three hours. I started behind a lot of people and was downwind. It took me 15 minutes just to cross the start line. I made navigational errors and even got lost."

This year the annual event was held on the icy mountain plains of Hardangervidda on April 1.

The goal was to complete five 20-kilometre laps, which could take up to five hours in gruelling conditions like blizzards, extreme cold, challenging terrain and snow.

Mayrand completed her second lap in 54 minutes, believed to be the fastest time ever for a woman on a snowboard.

What some consider the world’s toughest snowkite competition draws 350 kiters from 30 countries. (Daniel Tengs/Red Bull Content Pool)

Lack of wind can change everything.

Mayrand ran the last few hundred metres to complete her third and final lap.

In the snowboard category, only three women completed three laps while 11 finished only one lap this year.

Despite the challenges, Mayrand is feeling pretty good.

"It felt awesome to be the best in the world at snowboarding on that day among last year's winners and pro-riders that I admire and met there," she said.


Other Albertans take home medals

Peter Martel and Josh Barker, both of Red Deer, Alta., won first and third place respectively in the men's snowboard category.

Barker, who was diagnosed with Lyme disease six years ago, said the decision to try kiteboarding completely changed his life. 

"Standing on the podium at the hardest snowkite race in the world, I feel blessed for my beautiful wife Alyssa who has stuck with me through thick and thin, my two perfect children, my parents, family and friends for their prayers and support," he said in a release.

Martel, who came in third in last year's edition of Red Bull Ragnarok, said he had to deal with reduced visibility caused by a storm moving in, a crash and a broken steering line in order to snag gold.

"With my competition close on my heels, I had to react quickly. So I tied my steering line back together and continued," he said in a release.

Martel was happy to see his Canadian peers do so well.

"It made this individual sport seem more like a team effort," he said.

Red Deer residents Peter Martel, centre, and Josh Barker, right, celebrate their victories from the podium. (Håkon Mæland/MLandPictures Red Bull Content)

With files from Evelyne Asselin