The Ragnarok Hat-Trick with a Silver

The Ragnarok Hat-Trick with a Silver

We join Marie-Eve Mayrand for the eighth edition of the annual Red Bull Ragnarok, the world’s toughest snow-kite race as she secures a podium hat-trick.

The eighth edition of the annual Red Bull Ragnarok championship that many consider the world’s toughest snow-kite race drew 250 competitors to the frozen wilderness of Norway’s Hardangervidda plateau.

Snow-kiters have to complete five laps over 25 kilometres, which could take up to five hours depending on weather conditions. Competitors must be prepared for blizzards, cold weather, difficult terrain, deep snow, and extremely strong to very light winds.

For the third year in a row, Canadian Marie-Eve Mayrand ascended the podium at the Ragnarok 2018, claiming silver in the women’s snowboard category. She won gold in 2016 and bronze last year. She explains her experience.


Agony: Which kite is right?

The forecast called for stronger wind in the morning that would die out during the day. Marie-Eve was not sure about the appropriate kite size – a decision compounded by the almost complete absence of wind at the rigging area. She pondered long till the red flag went up, signalling that the race would start in 15 minutes.

Settling on her 13M Ozone R1V2, she hurried to the start line to find she had arrived late, and was stuck at the back of the crowd. Five minutes before the start, the wind began to pick up and some competitors were contemplating switching to their 9M kites, making Marie-Eve second-guess her selection. But there was no time to switch.


Scrimmage at gate one

The path to gate one was hard. Kites were aggressively jostling to get through the tiny gate. Others were in tangles, complicating matters more.

Marie-Eve did not want to risk her kite getting tangled with another contestant’s – she knew how much time would be lost if that happened. She decided to relax while getting through gate one, and then to pick up speed. She was in tenth place through gate one.
Past gate 2, she put on speed to advance to fifth position.

Into the windless valley

Between gates 3 and 4, she entered the valley, where the lack of wind made it difficult to keep the kite in the air.

It was hard, painful and slow. It took a lot of time, looping my kite to go up the mountain and avoiding other struggling people,” she recalls.

Once she had conquered the mountain, she went through gates 3 and 4 and completed her second and third lap without incident.

At this point, I was enjoying the course, as I moved into second place. But despite maintaining the same speed, I could not catch up to Valeria Garaschenko (the eventual gold medalist). I had lost too much time at the start of the race,” she says regretfully.


Lap 4: The clock and exhaustion

The fourth lap went well till gate 2, where the light wind again made climbing the mountain a challenge.

I was able to keep my kite in the air, but I had tried to climb the steepest part of the mountain with almost no wind. I went back down and tried again on a less challenging part of the mountain. Even when I had climbed to the top, I saw everyone struggling. I had to walk through gate 2 to cross it,” Marie-Eve says.
While attempting to go through gate 3 in the valley, she didn’t see many kites up in the air. With only 30 minutes remaining in the race, and absolutely no wind, she started walking in deep snow toward gate 3.

And then … exhaustion set in.

My legs just gave away. I was worn out and couldn’t make it through gate 3. I waited for a snowmobile to come pick me up,” she says.

The Norwegian experience and beyond

It was a real honour to train and spend the week with my very talented Ozone teammates: Jonas Lengwiler, Marco Fey, Ronny Michael, Mace Smait, and Didier BTA. It was also wonderful to be at the event with Iain, Hannes and Stu from the Ozone corporate office, Marie-Eve says.

She congratulates her Canadian teammate Peter Martel who earned gold in the men’s snowboard category.

I have to thank the people who support me in this adventure: Ozone kites, Muller Windsports, Mystic Boarding, Lifesport YYC and my family and friends,” she says.

Congrats to Valeria and Aija Ambrasa (who placed third in the women’s snowboard category). Ladies in the snowboard category are getting faster each year. I’m very happy to see that the ladies are closing the gap with their male counterparts.

She smiles as she notes how she ranked ninth among all 120 male and female snowboarders.
She would like the opportunity to race with top women competitors in other events outside the Ragnarok.
While hoping to return in 2019, she has contrasting goals: either accept Steph Bridge’s challenge to compete on skis or be faster on her snowboard with a better start.


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